When I wrote "Not Every Closed Eye Is Shut," I was going through many of same emotions, trying to put my life back together after my husband passed away. I had just finished writing the story, "Forever Mine," in 1994, and then buried my partner for life that same year. It was a hard time, raising my daughter on my own and trying to make sense of each day we spent without our anchor. My daughter and I traveled north to Niagara Falls and then to Canada, more so to do the things we had planned to do as a family before illness struck. We used that time to heal. After a year of quiet solitude, a good friend from work invited me out. I learned then that my husband was right about me. I had led a very sheltered life. I had been protected most of my life, even with him. He would say that I was book smart ... not street. I used to laugh when he made that statement. However, it became a rude awakening for me while I faced the hardships of dating, dealing with the wagging tongues and the well wishers, who really didn't wish me well. Then, there were those would cared too much. So, I took many of my experiences and allowed my mind to flow where I felt life should have been channeled, whether it was a mistake or not. It felt good to write it down. Thanks to my family, who encouraged me and my writing instructor for Memoir Writing Concepts, "Not Every Closed Eye Is Shut" was written. Although, she stated that I should have written it in memoir: first person, writing it in third person just seemed right. It gave me closure and allowed me to move forward. Everyone of us has a story to tell. We write, using our experiences as a guide. Like Julie, I dared to dream I had a future.
The main characters in "Not Every Closed Eye Is Shut" are Julie Douglas and her daughter Alexis, Gena: Julie's sister, Claire and William Bennett: Julie's parents, Eva: mother-in-law, Kacy and Glen: social and work friends, Marcus: potential suitor and Steve: a love from Julie's past. I know it a long list, but they all come in contact with Julie and they have a very subtle impact on the decisions she makes. In the passage that follows, you will see the beginning of her struggle.
Not Every Closed Eye Is ShutJulie stood in front of her family at the Douglas Family reunion in Covington, Ohio, staring into the faces of relatives she barely knew. Julie was an independent, but lonely woman after her husband, Chandler, had passed away nearly three years ago. She had been widowed quite young and many of her relatives felt she should become part of the permanent widows pool. Even her mother-in-law, Eva, didn’t want her son’s memory to be shadowed by a sordid affair with another man nor did she want her daughter-in-law to find love again. It was hard on Julie to remain the person she was, strong, amiable and dedicated to her work.
Today, she announced that she wouldn’t make it to the next reunion. Furthermore, she was planning to take a cruise, travel the country and to spend lots of time with her only child, a daughter. So far, she had been told that they were expecting her child to be with the family on all the holidays thereafter. It left nothing for Julie to do but come and sit, watch the gifts being passed over her, while she was expected to shower the family with expensive trinkets and things. As it was, the women spent more time talking about her, saying things that were reminiscence of Julie flirting with the menfolk, when it was the men who had tried everything they could to spend time with her. She had grown tired of it all.
On the last visit, her sister-in-law Lydia, asked with a mark of sarcasm, “So sister dear, when are you planning to get married? I know the men have been knocking on your door since my brother died.” It was a blunt question. However, Lydia was intent on asking more questions to see if Julie was involved with someone…somehow. But, all probing questions were brushed aside. Julie refused to comment, mainly because she hadn’t found anyone worth her time. Plus she knew that these questions were a way of sullying the love she shared with Chandler. It was heartbreaking knowing that they didn’t approve of her from the start. Maybe, it was because they didn’t have a hand in selecting his bride, like they wanted to. So, the in-law syndrome began the moment they heard about Julie’s and Chandler’s elopement.
Yet, here in the presence of Chandler’s family and friends she finally disclosed her desire to move on with her life. “I know you think I’m being selfish, but…I must live my own life, not the one you have planned for me,” she stated carefully.
“She’s only playing.” Marshall laughed, causing the rest to do the same.
“Besides, dear, what will you do?" Eva asked coolly. "You can’t possibly think that you can raise my grandchild without my guidance.”
"Not Every Closed Eye Is Shut" is Julie's journey. It shows the determination and the struggle of one woman, whose focus is to proctect and raise her own child. Julie realizes that her understanding of love, life and truth is not the same for those who try to possess her. Love is not supposed to hurt, as some might think. She wants what every woman wants and deserves: love, honor and trust , something she had and lost.That is ... until one man from her past wakes the passion in her heart, allowing her to feel free to love ... again.