It is pitch black outside my window. Candles are merrily glowing, white lights twinkle on red walls, and chinese lanterns cast soft light from the ceiling as I sit at my computer and write.

It’s a cozy scene, though I should mention the fact that it is 8:30 am and the sun still isn’t anywhere close to making an appearance. Welcome to the decreasing light situation that is Anchorage in late October; all those candles and sparkling lights and lanterns described are not luxuries, they are necessities- my tool kit for survival during winter’s dark apocalypse.

I am definitely a girl who needs the light.

Speaking of light, I am being intentional about finding some this weekend both in sky and in spirit after spending the week editing my grief book like a mad woman. Over twenty hours of pouring over page after page of a thick, printed document with a fine tooth comb.

It is round one in what will be a three part editing process, but this round is the biggest, requiring the most revamping, rewriting and reshaping, so it is ready to send out to a few people who have agreed to read it in advance and write blurbs of support for the book cover.

It’s only going to a handful of others, but even, so, I still have a sense of anticipation and realization this project is about to get bigger than just me. A small circle will now also read these words; is it ready? Am I?

Yesterday I had the thought that if something were to happen to the manuscript (which it won’t since I’ve paranoid-idly saved it in 3 different locations), I couldn’t write this work again. It’s brave work, raw work, authentic work, and I absolutely believe that it has something to say, which may help others with their own grief- but I don’t think I could, or would, do it again. It has been a heart stretching undertaking to hold so much space for all the pages and stories it contains.

The waters are too deep, too emotional, too filled with everything black and light and gray that represents my seasons of loss and all the growth and heart change that has come since. So much of it is still so close to my heart and still so close to where I now find myself on my time line. It’s not a reflection or remembrance that’s taken on the kind of soft, nostalgic tints we find in old photographs; it is a story that has been told as I go, a graphic novel of love that bleeds all over the pages even as it heals.

Love is the essence of this story and it is the question and the answer. And I can see throughout the chapters just how much emotional territory I’ve covered in the last 9 months. It may just look like a book on grief to some, but to me, this is the map for how I sailed the ocean, arrived in the new world, and safely crossed its terrifying, harsh elements.

It’s my book of soul, and this week reading the becoming in the pages has been undoing.

I wondered, as I was busy editing and swimming in my oceans of words, about the wisdom of writing a book on loss while one is still processing their own. It hasn’t even been a full year since Brent, am I ready to have the most tender parts of my heart shared? Willing to be so vulnerable that I allow other people into my world?

Generous enough to be this open in the hopes it may help others find healing in their process? Healed up enough to share what is most wounded and beautiful and aching and true inside of myself?

And then I realized none of those questions really matter, because at the end of the day all any of us can do is listen to ourselves and proceed with life as best we know how. Each of us has our own way of going about life, each of us our own requirements of soul that must be met. They can be rather insistent and pressing and challenge us to do brave things, whether or not we feel ready.

When I listen to my own requirements of soul, my heart has a way of cutting through all the mental chatter and making clear what is evident to her. And she very clearly states:

Write the book.

So I have.

Nine o’clock and the light is slowly beginning to change. It’s gone from black midnight to steely twilight to an increasing stone blue cover that promises daylight is on it’s way. It looks like it is going to be a gray day, but that’s okay, there are other ways of finding light this weekend. Costume parties and walks in the woods and adventures in the mountains and working on stacks of colorful art for the book that bring softness and warmth to the pages; I thought it would make the book even kinder, a touch of color and brushstrokes and shapes that reminds:

No matter how deep is the present darkness, there will always be a return to the grace of the light.