goodbye

The Hardest Parts To Write

I had planned on writing this post a week ago after sending my finished edits to my critique partner. At 11:52 PM on Tuesday the 24th, I made it to the last line in DREAM CATCHERS. Victory swelled through my mind. But alas, somewhere between that moment and today, life got in the way. 

Looking back on some of those final sentences, I'm trying to find the truth in the above quote: "Sometimes there is power in letting go." For my characters, I know this must be true. And when I sent the latest draft of the book, I felt that surge of power in letting it go. But alas, amidst the devastation from the weekend, I am struggling to find the truth for myself. At 11:20 PM on Sunday the 29th, our beloved dog, Sully, took his final breath. 

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So while I'd planned to pen a post on Sunday detailing what it was like completing this last round of edits, my thoughts were consumed with the well-being of my first fur friend. I'd worked that morning and returned to find my sister crying. The rest of the day was filled with this same kind of sorrow. Disbelief. I sent a message saying we didn't think Sully would make it through the night, and even though the words existed, they didn't feel real. Sully had already been through so much, but he was always there. 

Always. 

We took turns laying beside Sully, emotion swelling in waves. My sister said something about loss, and I typed a note in my phone: "it's the moment you realize there is a lifetime of people to lose." We waited. We prayed. We stayed with him the whole day. We stayed with him after. It didn't feel real. 

Now I've written about real and unreal within DREAM CATCHERS, but this was the first moment I'd felt myself stuck between both. I closed up a box of cereal and half-expected Sully to lift his head like he always did at the sound of food. But he didn't move.

Even now, it's the quiet within the house that returns the sorrow in waves. I breathe through it, because I hate crying. But Monday, that's all we did. My whole family stayed home from work, and we took our beloved fur baby to the Pet Heaven Funeral Home for cremation. There was silence. There was quiet. There were no words. And even as I try to write this into a post, I'm not sure about the words, because they don't seem like enough. 

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Sully filled an emptiness in our lives for fourteen years, though there is never enough time with people you love. And Sully loved us like only the purest of hearts can. He had the happiest of personalities, and he's left a void in our lives. I know there are different moments that we struggle with most: the memory of Sully's last walk, just a week before his passing, the strangeness of dinner without his begging. But the morning is the worst knowing he won't be waiting in the living room to greet us. 

And there will be other things. He was always there to keep me company while I sat on the back patio reading, or writing. I think he might've known more plot details in future books than any other human in my life. He was the best of companions and a fierce friend who we will miss. 

While drafting this post the following week, I thought I might talk about endings. Bonnie Goldberg reminds: 

"Endings are the hardest parts to write. This is because they are false. Nothing truly ends; it transforms." 

Within her words I remember ending DREAM CATCHERS, because for too long, it was the hardest thing to write. And in that story, I've written about endings and goodbyes, and I think those words might be most true now as I think about saying goodbye to my first dog. Like I said, it is a hollow feeling. Death leaves an emptiness, and goodbyes leave nothing but echoes; unreal. Attempting to find the words to say a proper goodbye to a dog who meant so much is one of the hardest parts to write, but I'm trying. 

While I know this post details very little about completing my edits, I think it is important to note that sometimes life gets in the way of writing. And sometimes it drives us to find better words. To process. Revise. Mourn. To go on grieving.

I'm not sure I'll ever understand. And I know we'll never be able to fill the void of Sully's passing, but as we relive memories from the past, I'm reminded about the power of storytelling. I know we won't forget.

To Step Foward

Yesterday, I had my last official class at Buffalo State College, and I must admit, leading up to that final class, I couldn't wait to be done! In fact, I just wanted the semester to end as quickly as possible. When I got to school, it had that weird finals week vibe where there is hardly anyone on campus, and those who are seem too preoccupied with finals to even act like human beings. Those of us who have had to endure finals week understand the kind of feral beast, which starts to emerge when papers pile up and final exams erupt left and right. But this semester, I didn't feel any of that. I was just excited to be done.

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I was thrilled when the clock hit 3:30 so I could leave Rockwell Hall, and leave behind my undergrad. Even packing up my bag for the final time felt like no big deal. It was't until I was out in the hall standing with my new fall friends, talking about next semester that I realized what was happening. Someone said, see you later, and I said, I'm graduating. And this sentence felt so weird in my mouth, and then everyone was hugging me, and congratulating me, and I realized I might never see these people again. Now of course we can talk on Facebook, but that doesn't mean we will, and I knew there was something so different about this last day and my last day of high school, but I couldn't figure it out. In fact, it took me until now to discover that difference.

You see, in high school, I'd known people most my life. They saw me go through my awkward phase, and they know every embarrassing thing that'd ever happened. But in college, my peers were people who loved the same things, who accepted the fact that I loved Harry Potter and books and words. To them, I was just a writer, not that weird person who writes. And I knew I would be leaving that behind. I would be leaving those people, but also leaving behind a piece of myself. I changed so much in college, and I knew I would be leaving the pieces of that changed person behind. I knew it as soon as I read the quote below:

"You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place, like you'll not only mis the people you love, but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and place because you'll never be this way again."-Azar nafisi

My freshman year of college, I was insecure, afraid to make friends, and unsure of the future. For too long, I'd hid behind books and good grades.

But now, I'm confident in my writing, knowing my words make me unique. My stories are worth telling. I'm not afraid of meeting people and making friends, because I've learned how great people can really be. Of course, I will always have the best friend from high school. He will always have my past and my future, but my college friends have a part of me that I will always cherish.

I'm still unsure of the future, but not in the same way. I'm not scared of it anymore. I just know it will take me where it wants, and I'm okay with that. I still love books, and I still get good grades, but I don't use them to hide.

Next month, I will be starting graduate school, and while I'm somewhat nervous, I know I'm ready. I can't wait to sit down and actually read, to write without the constant homework and papers and tests hanging over my head.

I'm ready to be a writer.

Because that's what I've always been, even when I didn't know it. In college, I was able to find my voice as a writer. I wrote a book and have almost finished the second one and I've written papers and poems and a plethora of short stories. In college, I was able to really call myself a writer, to accept that my words were important; they will always be important.

So now that I'm officially done, I realize how much I've changed, and I couldn't be happier nor, more excited for the future. But I know I will never be this person again. Things will change a second from now and a day from now, a month and a year from now, and I just hope I remember this person I am, because I think she's pretty great! I hope I remember how this little story started and how it's grown while I work toward getting published because I really want to share it with you, invisible reader. And I hope someday I can meet you and talk to you about books and the future and words and even what it's like to graduate.

All best,Kayla King.png