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Grief and Gratitude: The Unfinished cheer of getting published

So here I am. Finally. A "published author." I know perfectly well that I don't need the quotes because I am, indeed, one. My wellness handbook, "Workplace Wellness Wins: A Handbook of Healthy Habits for the Busy Employee" emerged as the culmination of years immersed in the study and practice of wellness disciplines: yoga, kinesiology, biomechanics, meditation, mindfulness, fitness, anatomy, and knowing more about the nervous system after my diagnosis. It is infused with the esoteric wisdom inherent to a yoga teacher's journey.

Yet, this book is more than a product of solitary exploration. It is also a result of all the wellness-related conversations I had with my dad, and (heated) arguments with my mom about her health. It contains unwritten emotion that I had that last night I spent with my sister, Chime, which was when she actually got anointed by the priest. The book carries with it the frustrations I held watching my best friend, Zoe, neglect her health over personal and professional circumstances, that one time while scolding her, I actually said the words, "If you keep going like this, you'll be dead before you know it!" With my best friend, Natalie, as my witness, I meant those words with every weight of my being. But I had no idea that they would come true 3 months later, just 3 days after Chime's passing.

In short, what my book really wants to say is, TAKE EFFING CARE OF YOURSELVES!

All that to say, people have been very supportive, and I have images of friends and loved ones proudly clutching my creation. Yet, amidst the congratulations, I find myself unable to fully revel in the triumph.

I often get asked, "Are you just so happy now?" or "How excited are you?" or "You must be so happy with the outcome!" And while generally, the answer is a superlative, I find myself not being able to reach the pinnacle of my pride and joy. Because Chime isn't here to witness it, and I can't hear Zoe's voice telling me she would buy my first book in bulk (which she would so do if she were still alive).

I had no idea how much it hurts to miss Chime's moral and verbal support. Every time I made a social media post, Chime was always the first to react, 13-hour difference be damned. I always knew she had my back and I know she knew she had mine. I also had no idea just how meaningful Zoe's support was. She would often tell me, "You are a pioneer of this and that..." For years, I just took her words for granted, not really needing to fully understand what she meant by "pioneer." Well, if I told her now that Barnes and Noble and Amazon have confirmed that there is no other book out there like mine, she would repeat herself for the 55th time. And I would do anything to hear her say that to me again!

It finally dawned on me. Every life event Joen and I will have from here on end, good, bad, or ugly, Chime and Zoe will no longer be a part of it. They won't be able to see it, opine on it, share their insights about it, or even celebrate it. There will only be silence. A void. If you knew Chime, she would have proudly touted my book to all who would listen. There would be vocal fireworks as she sings my accomplishments to the world. Do you know how awesome it felt to have that kind of support?

In the same grain, do you also know how much it sucks not to have that anymore? It sucks. It majorly effing sucks. No one will ever come close to that kind of unconditional presence.

This will not be my last book. In fact, I have already outlined my second book and the third. I just have to remind myself that I would not be here had it not been for THEIR kind of support. They are a huge reason why I've been able to do the things I want to do. They buoyed me to get here and I just didn't realize it. They were, and will always be, integral to my journey. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

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