Thinking Thoughts: Monsters and Grieving

Every day, for several months now, my thoughts have been filled with disease; the invisible monsters that attack healthy, vital members of our families and our communities. Unstoppable monsters that seem to thrive on suffering and despair. Perhaps to many this seems an over dramatic point of view on the subject of disease, perhaps just my odd way of viewing the world we live in and the world as it connects to the stories I write. All these things may be true, but that is not stopped these thoughts from claiming so much of my mind that sometimes it’s hard to think of anything else.

In the 80s and 90s the monster that haunted the circles of people that were my safe haven was AIDS. It was this silent killer that snatched away the most loving, most gifted, those that had the greatest lust for life. I and many others watched helplessly as those amazing people slowly faded away. I hated that monster. Raged, wishing there was some magic sword or some powerful spell that could defeat the monster and save the people I loved. Of course it never happened. There were a lot of other diseases around during this time, but AIDS was the beast in the shadows that hunted the people that meant most to me back then.

Since then, maybe my circle of friends has changed, or maybe there’ve just been so many more advances around AIDS, but I don’t see the results of this monster quite as much as I use to among those dear to me. And when I do, survival doesn’t seem as hopeless a wish as it used to be when I was younger. That monster is still there, but lately especially, another type of monster seems to be growing stronger and stronger. Another monster seems to be threatening and claiming so many good people in the communities I’m part of. Cancer. This is the monster that fills my thoughts every day lately. This monster that has taken away many strong, loving, vibrant women this year alone, leaving big holes within their families and their communities where once these wonderful women existed. I’ve seen the most fearless women I know tremble like frightened children in a thunderstorm at the mention of this monster. Once again there’s no magic sword or powerful spell to defeat this monster. Once again we are helpless to save those we love.

I’ve never been good with helpless. I’ve never been good with bad things that happen to good people for no reason. What I can’t explain in the mundane world I often try to explain in the fiction I create. This is no different. It’s possible these thoughts plagued me more now than before because this is when I’m introducing the concept of the militant Fae into the world of the Guardian Circle. These are beings believed to be the cause of such diseases as AIDS and cancer, among many other diseases that are hard to fight or incurable. Maybe it’s childish, the need to have something to blame, some great villain to explain away as being the masters of the monsters, and to give hope that one day they might be vanquished. Even so, childish or not, it’s what I need to do. Natural Rebirth is the novel where I’m introducing the militant Fae as future antagonists, and as something for the magical community to unify against. For this reason I am dedicating Natural Rebirth to two women who the monster that is cancer has touched recently.

The first is Pam Rehberg, a professor who shared decades of knowledge and experience in costuming with countless students, and who showed incredible love and compassion for myself and other students when we were struggling with what life throws at us. The second is Sandra Moran, an anthropology professor and an author who has not only pushed young minds to stretch beyond what is familiar and commonplace but whose writings and humor have touched so many deeply. Pam Rehberg walked on to join her ancestors last month, to many of us besides those closest to her, she left us rather unexpectedly. Sandra Moran’s cancer diagnosis was a punch to the gut to family, friends, and her fans alike, as did the news that the doctors estimates she has about three months.

Both of these women have given so much of themselves to those around them, and have shared knowledge and stories that will have lifelong impacts on so many they’ve touched along the way. That’s quite a legacy to leave behind. Dedicating this novel that I’ve worked so hard on over the past few years to them; it seems like such a small, insignificant way to honor such amazing women, but it’s all I have to give. Maybe someday a person touched by these women, or touched by these stories may become the one that finally defeats this beast.


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