Simple everyday tasks, sights and sounds spring a wash of overwhelming emotion, good and sad.

The rooster’s crow from next door takes me back to the macademia nut farm where we spent our third wedding anniversary. Every morning that cock would crow from a nearby roost announcing the sun’s arrival over the Hawaiian horizon. Sleep interrupted on another morning, John rolled over and groaned. “When we get home, I’m roasting a chicken.”

No worries, neighbour. I prefer seafood. Your rooster is safe with me.

I steam a trio of plump Digby scallops, follow a downloaded recipe for white sauce aka bechamel, one of French cuisine’s “mother sauces”, and boil a small pot of fettucini as close to Chef John perfection as this mere kitchen mortal can get. Pleasure with the taste and my ability to create it dissolves to tears. “I did it, John,” I say out loud and substitute my napkin for a tissue.

The compostable bag collapses under the weight of damp fallen leaves. I curse my husband for leaving me alone with an old house that needs repairs and the ankle-deep autumn waste from shedding maple trees.

Bereaved survivors who read “Heartland” told me I had described loss and the aftermath of it as though I had lived it. I had not. Yet. The love of my life was alive when I wrote of Darien’s pain at losing his.

John protested Ali’s demise but understood that this unusual twist of tragedy in a romance novel was necessary to move the story along.

As I must now write my story of loss and its aftermath in real life.

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