by Kitty Felde
I used to think that I needed to clear my plate before I could sit down to write. Bills had to be paid, phone calls and emails had to be returned, and any emotional or physical turmoil had to be addressed before I could clear my head and give myself permission to sit down at the keyboard to write.
I used to think that way. And then my brother-in-law jumped off a freeway overpass. I discovered that chaos demands the written word.
My mother used to say April was the cruelest month. Everything bad happened in April. It must be genetic because I found April to be awful as well…though in recent years, my horribilis mensis shifted to March. The month started off in its usual rotten way – stomach flu, a cracked tooth. And then the jump.
The brother-in-law had been the sole caregiver for his wife, a woman my age who’d had a stroke six months earlier and was left with dementia. He kept saying everything was fine. A visit to their house proved that it wasn’t. Both were taken to the ER. She was shifted to a psychiatric hospital, he was released. Twice. And then he jumped. He survived, but broke just about every bone in his body.
And then the stupid minutia began. We couldn’t find the house keys, which meant we couldn’t lock up his house. The police threatened to tow his car, but the hospital wouldn’t give us his car key. The insurance company demanded the wife be moved, but the new hospital couldn’t find her.
But in the middle of the tornado, I found myself carving out an hour here and there to write, to spend time with my fictional Mendoza family, researching snakes and basement windows and scenes about learning to drive and partisan politics. I NEEDED that other place where I could control the chaos.
It will be a long process, picking up the pieces. But once things settle down, I’ve learned a lesson I’ll long remember: the emails and bills and self doubts can wait. I have something more important to do right now. I need to write.
Kitty Felde is author of The Fina Mendoza Mysteries series of books and podcasts. Welcome to Washington Fina Mendoza will be released in July, 2023 by Chesapeake Press. Her ensemble play A Patch of Earth, a courtroom drama about the Bosnian War, is now available on Amazon.