On Death and Taxes

This should be my favorite time of the year. Bright sunlight, reflected from pristine snow, makes the whole world come alive. Each day lasts longer than the day previous.

The air is crisp. Neither mold spores nor pollen pollute the air. My allergies are happy this time of year.

I have plenty of time to write. From April until December I travel the convention circuit, but December through March I stay at home. I concentrate on writing novels and short stories. I do have to devote at least a few days to tax accounting during the second week of January. My estimated federal taxes are due by the 15th of each fiscal quarter, and state sales taxes are due by the 20th of each month. But the rest of my time is free to write.

Unfortunately, I am reminded every day of January of the losses of significant loved ones in my life. Both of my parents died during this time of the year fifty years ago, and my beloved wife Gretta died on January 31st, almost four years ago now. It seems like just yesterday Gretta and I drove down to Hot Springs on our last vacation together. A few weeks after we returned, Gretta suffered a massive heart attack and left this world.

A few months after Gretta died, I began writing fiction again. I had stopped writing novels and short stories entirely while Gretta was ill. We both became medical researchers and explored ways to extend life, maintain or improve the quality of life, and help others as well as ourselves live longer and better. I entered academia and earned several advanced degrees. Gretta finished her bachelor degree, enrolled in graduate courses, and became a Certified Reiki Master Teacher and a Certified Reflexologist. We started a healing practice and established the EnTrance Center, Inc to teach others what we had learned. I wrote journal articles and lesson plans. Neither of us had time to read or write fiction.

I continued to practice and teach hypnosis for more than a year after Gretta died. Then I closed the EnTrance Center and returned to full-time fiction to save my sanity.

I stopped drinking and began smoking again. I wrote my heart out and sought to re-establish my career as a novelist. I attended science fiction and fantasy conventions. I found Lizza (Elizabeth Aisling Flygare) and our long-time friendship developed into love.

But this time of year I can’t help but think about Gretta. Lizza obligingly plans a vacation to Florida during the last two weeks of January while I ruminate and brood over Gretta’s untimely passing, put my heart and soul into my writing, and pay Uncle Sam and various state Governors their due.

Needless to say, this is no longer my favorite time of the year. It is the coldest part of the year in more ways than one.

Everybody has lost, or will someday lose, a person they love. Death is a natural part of life. One cannot exist without the other. Kind of like God and the Devil. Two sides of the same coin.

I write extensively about death in my novels and stories. Death is my stock in trade as surely as if I were a serial killer, a homicide detective, a forensic scientist, a combat soldier, or an assassin.

But my novels aren’t only about death. They are also about survival and hope and redemption and rebirth. They are about love and hate and human frailties and follies and the ability to forgive. They are about forgetting and remembering. They are about personal growth and overcoming adversity and continuing onward and upward in this life and beyond.

My tales are an affirmation that spring follows winter, that trees will bud again and flowers will bloom, and death follows life and life follows death ad infinitum.

As surely as death and taxes, life endures and thrives.

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