There are some moments that are so defining for you as a writer, moments that seal your fate, and you can never shake that moment off. This moment for me was a phone call to my sister-in-law. She and I had been very close and shared all our darkest secrets, our love of writing, religion, and folklore. We were so alike in so many ways, and I think I was crushed when she moved away, and became so involved in her family's life. I was jealous. Because she was such a good friend to me and I could always rely on her for the truth, the kind of truth I needed from someone. We used to laugh that we were both mystics. I think that's true. This book will be dedicated to her, because she loved the idea of it.
Life can be so cruel. She moved away, and it was probably at a time when I could have used a really good friend. The same was going on for her. But she had her loving daughters, so I shouldn't whine. But she got sick, very sick, and was soon dying. I couldn't believe it. I had so much going on in my own life at that time that I couldn't believe that the one person who was my mystic half was dying, far across the country and I could do nothing for her. I could hardly talk to her and I didn't. I pulled away, because she was so sick and she barely made it through most days and as I have said, she had the ones she really needed, the ones she wanted in her life and I knew and understood that. But one day, Fred and I were riding around in the car, and I just thought of her and had to talked to her. So we pulled over and I called her. And we talked. I remember exactly what we talked about and how it all came back to something that really took hold of me on this story. She died a few days later.
At her funeral her daughter told something that gave me the shivers. She told me that when her mother got off the phone with me, she turned and looked at her and said, "It's time. I am going to die. Janie's called." And she did die, two days later. I was thinking how we had really never said goodbye to each other. We had only talked about things we loved and each other. We laughed. This song is about that, how life goes on, and it also gave me the title of my book.
After she died, I watched my father die a slow miserable death that had been coming on for years, and then my beloved Aunt Belle died, and then my own mother died, followed by a beloved cousin who was my gardening buddy. Those were grueling years of suffering and loss. I never wrote a decent word in those blight years, for that is what I call them.
But lights do stay on and we pass through sorrows and then go on....