Sounds hopeless, doesn't it? Lamott is right, though, we are all going to die, and we'll have struggles in between. Who wants to read a novel that only reminds us of grim reality? Unless . . . unless that book shows us how to live in the face of the grim reality. And, I don't mean merely survive, I mean dance in the hospital gown with your butt hangin' out; bling out the body cast; put baseball cards on the wheels of your wheelchair; tattoo your bald head kind of living. Now, I admit, some of those are a little out there, but I used hyperbole to point out there are ways to do more than just survive in the face of adversity, and that's what Lamott is talking about. Use your characters to inspire us, to help us want to keep moving forward when the news is bad. In fact, I'll use my own real-life daughter as an example. Every day of her life is a struggle, but she does the best she can to make it a joyful struggle. My favorite quote of hers is: "God is good even when the news is not," and she has room to talk.
Born with cystic fibrosis, a chronic and fatal illness, she's fought her whole life just to stay alive. Then, at 29, she was struck with the first of two malignant brain tumors. Now, at 38, she has developed diabetes, arthritis, and gastroparesis (paralysis of the stomach) in the past two years. She has a backpack she wears most of the day that holds the liquid nutrition that sustains her through a j-tube in her intestine. She's in pain much of the time, and yet, she chooses to live, really live. She homeschools their teenage daughter, she crochets,she visits friends, she attends her daughter's cross-country meets and fencing lessons. She plays games with her family. She laughs. She has fun. She lives with joy. Does she know she's dying? Yes. Just like the rest of us, but that's not the story. The story is in how she lives!