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A Friend of Mine is Dying

I read somewhere that there are two things that make time stop: when your baby turns one week old, and waiting for a friend to die. I’m waiting now. I know that for the rest of my life, the summer of ’08 will be the summer I waited for a best friend to die. She’s at home now, not in pain, battling to stay awake as floods of people visit to say their goodbyes. She is too well loved.

And the days have taken on a heaviness that grinds them to a halt. Stopped time is not such a bad thing. It is a gift, really. I catch myself wondering how it must feel to be the dove swaying in the redwood of my front garden. I squint my eyes and see the sky in reflecting water on the beach and dislocate, so that I seem to swim in the sky and sea at once.

I am very present. I count the days, each one a gift. I practice this present/presence and find it calms me. The shouts of fear dim and I can focus. On her eyes. Her husband’s words. Her children’s questions.

Writing Tip #2 refers to a stillness exercise. This is very simply closing your eyes for 5 minutes and counting slowly with each intake of breath 1-10, then 10-1. It releases the editor in us and lets the genie of creativity out of the bottle. The trick is to keep the editor (“I can’t write. I don’t know what to write. It’s no good. I’ll never get it published . . . blah, blah, blah”) occupied, so that the artist child in us can create with reckless abandon.

Funny, this season of waiting. I have rarely written as surprisingly. I know a stillness as I, with time, stop still.

Writing Tip #4–Write Away! Close your eyes. Imagine the sound of your fingers tapping on the keyboard. See yourself typing away. Remember the last time you finished something and got it out the door. Be very present. What do you hear? Now keep your eyes closed and touch-type away. (If you have to peek, focus just on the keyboard, not on the screen.)

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