All that survives after our death are publications and people.

So look carefully after the words you write, the thoughts and publications you create, and how you love others.  For these are the only things that will remain.  -Susan Niebur

I was reading WordPress’s Blogging Through Breast Cancer post Wednesday morning and remembered Susan Niebur’s blog, Toddler Planet, which I always enjoyed reading.  She passed away from metastatic breast cancer in 2012, but her blog lives on.  Since it’s chock full of resources, I shared the link in the comments section of the WP round-up post.

The day before, my ex-husband became a father for the fourth time.  He and his wife welcomed another son to their family, but while she recovered from an emergency cesarean, he headed to a children’s hospital an hour and a half away to be with their son.  A crushed umbilical cord led to his arrival three weeks early and a host of problems.

These two things might, at first glance, seem unconnected, and maybe they are, but I make weird connections between things (and I usually ramble while I’m doing it), so bear with me.  See, I couldn’t remember Toddler Planet’s address, so I had to Google it in order to share the link.  While I was there, I decided to revisit a few posts, which is how I stumbled across the quote above.

I first learned about my ex-husband’s situation from his mother.  Our son, Bubbles, was supposed to visit my ex Tuesday after school and then return later that night, a situation that clearly needed adjusting.  My relationship with my ex and his family over the last six years hasn’t always been great, so I was surprised when ex-MIL said she would keep me informed of Little Guy’s progress.

I was more surprised that I found myself thinking about them quite a bit that night and again the next day (and then again yesterday and today).  My ex-husband, his wife, and I have a complicated relationship, so the amount of thought I’ve devoted to them in the last three days has been much greater than I’d anticipated when I promised my ex-mother-in-law that I would keep their family in my prayers.  Concern has replaced anger and bitterness, things I’ve held onto more tightly than I really care to admit, even to myself.

All that survives after our death are publications and people.

I’ve been considering my own legacy lately, and this week’s events have just been more food for thought.  Will I be remembered the way I’d like to be remembered?  Or will I be thought of as a bitter, selfish person, too consumed by hurt and anger to truly see what’s important in life, what really matters?

It’s always been my dream to be a famous author, but I fear it won’t happen.  Sure, I’m revising The Lokana Chronicles for the zillionth time, but there’s still no guarantee it will ever be published.  I worry that when it’s all said and done, the only publications to bear my name will be a couple of anthologies, a volume of crappy poetry, and this little blog.

I’m working hard to prevent my legacy from being a mountain of bloody manuscripts, but when I get writing, I become laser-focused.  I block out everyone and everything.  It’s important to me to be able to show my kids that their dreams are achievable by accomplishing my own, but am I really succeeding, then, if I shut them out in order to make my dreams a reality?  I don’t think so.

Balance is something I’ve never been good at.

Letting go is another thing I’ve never been good at.  See, I’m a dweller – once something sticks in my head (or my heart), it tends to stay for quite a while.  I carry with me a lifetime of anger and bitterness, old wounds and trust issues.  I’ve tried to bury them, but they always manage to find their way to the surface, usually when I’m stressed.  I’ve never handled stress well, either, because I never learned how.  Sometimes I think it may be too late.

All we are is dust in the wind.

But what this week has shown me, again (because I never seem able to learn things the easy way), is that life is just too fucking short to let fear and anger rule your life.  (It should be noted that this is a lesson I am constantly learning.  Maybe one day it will finally break through my thick skull.)  I’ve pondered whether others in my life have learned this lesson this week, but whether they have or not really doesn’t matter, and it’s taken me a couple of days to figure that out.

What matters is, have I learned it?

Because if I have, then I can begin to heal.  I’ve realized over the past few days that whatever wrongs I may have suffered in the past are just that: in the past.  This has enabled me to truly empathize with my ex and his family (of course, so has my own experience with a baby in NICU).  I thank God that Thumper’s birth day troubles were much less severe and I pray that their little big guy – he was 10 lbs., 9 oz. at birth, despite being three weeks early – will pull through all of this with no permanent damage.

No one should have to watch their child fight for life.  No one.

Now the question remains: Will I be able to grant the same forgiveness to others that I’ve been able to grant my ex?

I think so.  I think it’s already begun, as a matter of fact.  It’s such a relief to be able to put down some of this heavy baggage, to let go of the past and focus on the present.  The idea that we should turn the other cheek has surrounded me this week, from Kristen Lamb’s “Confessions of a Recovering Jerk” to my Enterprise rewatch to a phone call this morning with my aunt.

If I’m going to create the kind of legacy I want to leave, then I need to learn how to truly forgive and how to stop dwelling on old hurts.  Because in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.  Publications will fold, manuscripts will crumble, but people live on in our hearts and our minds forever.

If you would like to help out my ex and his family with their expenses, check out the GoFundMe campaign that’s been set up for them.  He’s had to take time off from both of his jobs to be with his family during this difficult time, and living an hour and a half away from the hospital little Zack is in hasn’t helped matters.  Anything you can give will be appreciated, even if it’s only your thoughts and prayers.

(c) 2014.  All rights reserved.


12 thoughts on “Remains

  1. healingoils2014 says:

    So much to process and think over in your post, but my first reaction is to think carefully about what I write and put online. Someday it may be all that’s left of me.


  2. M T McGuire says:

    That’s harsh. For all of them and for you too. But if any good comes out of it, maybe it has a purpose. I hope everything turns out OK for the little guy. I’ll be thinking of you all.




    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Harsh, indeed. And thank you. He’s being kept quite hydrated at the hospital, but as a result, he’s gained two pounds in the last three days and looks very swollen (you can kind of tell by looking at his left leg in the photo above). He’s holding steady at the moment; I’ve got my fingers crossed he improves soon.


  3. Tricia Drammeh says:

    I will keep your ex and his family in my prayers.

    Thank you for sharing this post. I know it’s painful to be so honest when it comes to your own baggage or flaws. I think letting go of anger is something a lot of people struggle with, myself included. Most people seem to have recurring issues they struggle to overcome. I think it’s admirable that you can recognize issues you would like to work on and that you can take share your struggles with others. I have no doubt that you will leave a beautiful legacy in your children and in your writing. I enjoy your blog and have often been inspired by it. To inspire others is a wonderful legacy, Kay.


    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Thanks, Tricia. They can use all the prayers they can get, I think.

      Recognizing issues I struggle with isn’t always the problem – actually overcoming them is. And I always feel weird sharing things like this with others, but maybe that’s because I come from stoic stock. Still, there are a lot of topics that still seem to be taboo, and that taboo will never disappear unless people are more open about those topics, so maybe me blathering on about things will help someone else somehow. I hope so.

      I’m glad I can inspire you (and hopefully others). You’re absolutely right that inspiration is a wonderful legacy. 🙂


  4. Roger says:

    The fact that you air these personal thoughts and wishes ensures that you will be remembered, as a kind and thoughtful person. As for being a famous, successful author – why not? Keep going.


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