Today is my book signing. A day I celebrate my book and all the hard work put in to get it out there, into the world, forever. Wow. That’s so cool. It will also be a day I celebrate without Peter. I think he would be proud of me. I think he would be applauding me from the background. I think he would be helping me, calming me, reassuring me. But I don’t know and that’s another sucky part in all of this, the not knowing.
Before you say, oh he would, let me tell you, Peter didn’t fully support my writing. Oh sure, he gave me half hearted ‘oh good’ ‘s, and read over some of it. But he wasn’t that cheerleader on the sidelines, doing back-flips over my successes. To him, I think, writing was too abstract for his engineering mind. If it didn’t pull down a steady income, or won a Pulitzer – which in turn produced income – writing was more of a hobby, like his skiing or hiking. He knew my passion for it, and equated it with his passion for being on an open road with his motorcycle. I had day jobs…all my books were written while working full-time…and in those, he showed his interest.
Writing just wasn’t one of those things Peter held me up on. He supported me, in his own minimal ways, but cheered me on? Encourage me? Gave me attagirl talks? No. Not really. Over the years, Peter clapped a bit when I finished writing fifty thousand words every November – Nano Month -, he gave out a little ‘woo hoo’ when my books were picked up, and he read one of my two books. All of this type of support was given to me with qualifiers like ‘you still have to pay for XYZ though’ or ‘romance isn’t my thing’. After he died, friends and family members would tell me ‘he talked about your writing’, and I bit my tongue to add ‘but not to me’.
In a marriage, you can have separate interests, removed from your partner. At least we did for twenty-eight years. I knew going into the marriage with him we were two totally different people with different interests, beliefs, and thought process. His desire to explore and build was opposite of my head in the cloud thinking and fingertips on keyboards. Yet what did keep us together for twenty eight years was our common bound of parenting, morals and humanistic views on life. That glue never came undone. And, yes, we had a very strong physical attraction to one another.
I can’t say it didn’t bother me, the low interest I received from Peter regarding my writing, because it did. It always did. But I wrote anyway.While Peter was alive, writing was one of those things I did in our marriage for me. My passion was, and continues to be, so strong for it, so I took any open window to go through in order to get it done. I carved out time at four o’clock in the morning before work to write for a few hours before I had to head to my day job. I brought my laptop in to write during lunch breaks and spent Sunday afternoons at the library to write. I wrote whenever I could and during times that would not interfere with my daily family or work life. And, eventually, I stopped sharing this part of me with Peter, only doling out bits and pieces when necessary. It wasn’t really okay, yet, it was okay. I had final products. I had strung together words that told a story. I had filled up the part of me only writing was able to fill.
In the ending months of Peter’s life, his support for my writing did grow with my new book. Unlike my first book, Peter did read this one, Wanna Bet and actually told me he liked it. I mean, he was still not the cheerleader on the sidelines, and he still wanted it to generate an income before he could fully applaud, but he was softening. Our last argument was about communication, the old you said/I said debate. During it, to prove a point I heard him incorrectly, he spit out “you have this creative mind and all these voices of your character in your head”. It was the first time I heard creative and any talk about my characters, who yes, can be very real to me sometimes. I let all my anger drop and felt the swell of gratitude for his recognition of my writing.
Maybe Peter was my cheerleader after all. Maybe he wasn’t the one applauding, rather the ones who holds up the pyramid and get overlooked. After all, he was a very unassuming man. Or maybe, he was growing warm to the idea of my writing. Maybe after a second book he started to see that part of me. Or, maybe, just maybe, he would never fully understand my passion for writing and I would have to continue to be okay with it because in the end, I was in love with him. I not only loved him, but was in love with him because he was good, and kind, and gentle, and brilliant.
I will never know exactly what Peter would do today. Although on this day, on the day to celebrate my second book, I will carry him with me and with him, the hope he is there with me. I will thank Peter for giving me what he could, and the financial support given me for my pursuit of writing. And, because I will never know, I will let go of all the what-ifs, and should-haves with Peter and my writing. Then, after all of this, I finish that ending with Peter and start a new book for me in my passion for writing.