Monday, January 09, 2006

The Aliens Have Landed

When I started this blog, I swore I wasn't gonna make it all about me. You know, the 'I had cornflakes for breakfast and a bunion on my big toe' kind of blog. I wanted to talk about concepts and motivation (or lack of it) and 'big picture' kind of things. So here's where I break my own rules, because the kind of day I just had falls into the 'truth is stranger than fiction' category.

A little background: my sister lives in another state, but she's been in town for the last two months caring for her mother-in-law, who was recently diagnosed with liver and kidney cancer. I won't go into what a sweetheart she is or the sacrifices she's made (she gave up her job, her family and put her life on hold so someone else could go gently into that good night), but needless to say, she's special. Anyway, the inevitable happened and her MIL passed away with my sister by her side.

It was the next day the weirdness began. 9am found my sister and me at the mortuary, making funeral arrangements. That in itself might not seem strange, but I'm currently working on a series of books about a reluctant psychic who talks to the dead, and several scenes take place in funeral homes. Since I'd just written a particularly vivid scene in which my main character meets a rather vindictive spirit in the ladies room of a mortuary, I found myself crossing my legs and keeping them crossed rather than venture into the real ladies room by myself. When that sad business was finished, I took my sister to the beach.

Yes, the beach. The freezing, windy beach. She built sandcastles and joined the Polar Bear club while I supervised, bundled in warm clothes. I could see the stress of the last two months drain away, replaced by goosebumps and sand between her toes. On the way home we stopped by a bookstore so she could buy a gift for my husband, whose birthday she'd missed while being an angel.

It was a book on aliens, because, well... because my husband has a strange sense of humor, and so does my sister. But that wasn't all. We spent the rest of the afternoon making special birthday hats out of aluminum foil, pipe cleaners and duct tape. Ain't we pretty?

Let me recap: morning at the funeral home, afternoon at the beach, evening making hats for an impromptu alien birthday party. Out of tragedy came comedy, just like those famous drama masks.

Sometimes you just gotta laugh.

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