Monday, July 21, 2014

NECON/INTERRUPTED

Left to right: Rob Davies, Myself, Jacob Haddon, Dave Thomas
This past weekend, I attended the 34th annual NECON - a speculative convention that is, in many ways, a Mecca for speculative fiction writers - in Bristol, Rhode Island. 

Sorta.

I rode up with Lamplight editor Jacob Haddon, and we talked about tons of stuff - writerly stuff, industry stuff, personal stuff - and the ride itself was almost worth the trip. Soon as we arrived, however, a slight monkey wrench slipped into the works.


I Skyped home to talk to my wife and the kids. I was expecting to see my daughter and son crowding the screen, jubilant and excited. What I saw, however, is the last thing any traveling husband wants to see: my wife, pale, sweating, in pain, and crying.

Long story short: she'd just thrown up twice, experiencing severe abdomen pain. Guesses ranged from appendicitis to gall bladder infection, and I was six hours away, having just arrived at NECON, and powerless to do anything.

Abby's nausea lessened, and the pain eased. Once I made sure her sister and mother were standing by to help her, we decided to wait until morning for her to visit our family doctor. I then went out and tried to enjoy my first night at NECON as best I could, and I managed okay.

The next morning, Abby woke with a moderate amount of pain. She made arrangements for the kids, then headed to the family doctor. I spent the morning finishing a short story, checking out the dealer room, watching panels, trying to enjoy myself as best as possible.

Around 1:30, Abby called me with the news that our family doctor believed it to be appendicitis. She then went to the hospital to await an official diagnosis. Meanwhile, I was stuck. Jacob was graciously offering to take me home, but he'd driven a total of 12 hours to NECON, and I didn't want to make him do that. Then, in the ultimate measure of grace, good friend Ron Dickie - from Canada, on a direct return path past my house - offered me his car.

That said, I then waited for a final verdict. Around 2:30, I decided not to wait any longer. If Abby called me with the news she DIDN'T have appendicitis, I could always turn around and return to NECON if the diagnosis wasn't serious. However, if I left before hearing and it WAS appendicitis, MAYBE I'd make it home in time for the surgery.

I packed off around 2:30. Around 4, Abby called me, confirming the diagnosis. I motored my way home and walked into the hospital waiting room at 8:30 PM. Ten minutes later, the surgeon came in to tell us the procedure was done, and Abby had come through it fine. She's resting comfortably now, and on the mend.

SO, how do I feel about all this?

Well, most importantly, I'm thankful Abby's okay. Also eternally grateful to Ron for the use of his car, and for the deluge of well-wishes and prayers offered on Facebook. Underneath that? 

I'll be honest and admit there's some emotional turmoil, though it's beginning to simmer down. I'd been looking forward to this for weeks, returning to NECON for the first time in almost four years, under special circumstances. So, I was pretty gripped by "I feel bad about missing NECON, but feel worse about feeling bad about missing NECON, because that makes me pretty selfish, right?"

Things are starting to get back to normal. Madi's got basketball camp, I've got a writing schedule to keep, Abby's mending, and soon, we'll be heading out to vacation. One thing I can say for sure: it was wonderful seeing everyone again, even if for only a short time, and I'm now committed to saving funds in order to attend NECON 35.