Still in Shock: Walking Dead’s Season Finale

NOTE: This post contains spoilers regarding the Walking Dead’s Season 5 finale.

It has been more than 12 hours since I finished watching Walking Dead’s Season 5 finale. I have slept. I have guzzled coffee and done quite a bit of that whole Monday thing.

But nothing works. I’m still somewhat in shock.

At the end of last night’s episode, I was staring at my TV with this strange, unfamiliar expression on my face. After a moment, I realized it was actually a smile.

Smile? Season Finale? Walking Dead? I’m not used to those going together.

TWD are masters at manipulating our emotions. I expect them to rip my heart out and gnaw on it like a zombie with fresh meat. I was still reeling from Beth’s death when it was suddenly time to begin mourning Tyreese. Hell, I’m still not sure I’ve recovered from Hershel.

I was certain that last night’s episode was going to hurt. It was the season finale. Norman Reedus had been quoted as saying we should have our tissues ready, and a Huffington Post article proclaimed that Daryl himself might be the character on the chopping block.

The voices in my head carried on a conversation that went something like this as I watched the episode:

“Wow. Morgan! Yes! Oh, wait. Daryl and Morgan just realized they have ‘The Rick Connection.’ Now they’ll kill Daryl and Morgan will have to be the one to tell Rick he’s gone.”

“Sasha, you’re losing your shit. You’re taking naps in zombie piles. Normally I’d bet on you in a fight with Gabriel any day of the week, but you’re clearly whacked. Maybe he’s going to kill you. Oh shit. Here comes Maggie. Maybe he’s going to kill her …”

“Oh Glenn, no. Don’t do it. Don’t be the the ‘I can’t kill him’ guy. Time for you to pull a Rick. Think about Tyreese. Nice guys don’t finish last on this show. They finish dead.”

“Abraham and Eugene just had an ‘I’m sorry I told the biggest lie ever’ and ‘I’m sorry I almost beat you to death’ moment. And they’ve both really grown on me these last few episodes. Shit. One of them is toast now.”

“Rick has a zombie on top of him. Oh well, that’s nothing, really. They wouldn’t kill Rick. Unless they would. They’ve always said no one is invincible. Oh, shit. Not Rick …”

And so round and round went the who-gets-it Russian Roulette game in my head. When the episode ended and everyone in the group was still breathing, I was stunned. And I’m still stunned.

Well played, Walking Dead. You have trained us well. The last thing we expected was for the most notable death in the season finale to be Dr. Douchebag. You kept us on the edge of our seats. After the show, I had a drink to celebrate. As far as Sunday night TV goes, that usually only happens when I’m watching football.

The gang is all still here. And we don’t have to worry about any of them kicking it until at least October.

If TWD was looking to surprise me, it sure as hell delivered. That was the last thing I expected. I kind of feel like I got punked, but in a good way. Kudos to the show for a new kind of adventure.

Advertisements

Ding-Dong, Go Away

I can’t say the grass is getting green just yet, but spring is in the air nonetheless. Instead of leaving work and heading home in darkness, I walk into a few more precious hours of daylight. The light coat I wore to ward off the morning’s chill is slung over my arm, no longer needed in the warmth of afternoon.

Once home, I leave the door open and crack the windows, letting in the gentle breeze and the soothing sounds of birdsong. I wander about barefoot, relishing the thought that pretty soon I won’t have to wonder about the fate of all those socks the dryer eats. There won’t be any socks to dry.

I live for fall and spring. Winter’s bitter cold and summer’s swampy heat both turn me into a bitchbag. July, August, January and February are like loud, overbearing friends who sometimes make you smile but more often zap you of energy with their drama and noise.

But October, November, April and May? Love them. They are those lifelong friends you can hang out with and not talk at all. They are a breath of fresh air.

So as April approaches, I take time to feel gratitude. I walk barefoot in my living room and think of the hikes I’ll take before it gets too hot, the flowers I’ll plant, the leisurely outdoor meals I’ll have, the writing I’ll do while sitting on my deck. I feel energized and inspired.

And then YOU knock on the door.

Like an animal trapped in its lair, I am caught. Because I have the door open, so you know I am here. Your eager eyes are peering through the screen door. You knock lightly and flash a hungry smile, even though you’ve had a glimpse of that deer-in-the-headlights look on my face already.

You come when I am catching up on Walking Dead or Vikings or Shameless. You come when there’s a book in my hand. You come when I am pecking away on my laptop. You make my fingers freeze over the keyboard as I think “well, shitweasels and douchecanoes.

It doesn’t matter which of those things I was doing – any of them are better than talking to you. You see that in my eyes, and plow forward anyway. That’s how you (steam)roll.

“Hi! I wanted to ask you a few questions about your internet provider and tell you how (insert random company here) could give you faster service AND lower your monthly payments!”

Or:

“I’m from (insert random gas and/or electric company) and I’d like to tell you how much better our services are than (insert local huge energy provider that can be a pain in the arse but is ultimately always reliable AND leaves me the heck alone).”

Or:

“Would you like to talk about The Lord today?”

I don’t know what it is about my street that draws door-to-doorsies. It is an uphill, dead end road boasting a relatively small number of homes. We haven’t gotten trick-or-treaters in ten years. Why would they trudge up the hill when there are a buttload of flat streets with more houses so close by?

That always bummed me out. I like trick-or-treaters. I wouldn’t mind some little ghouls and goblins. I DO mind salespeople, but my street seems to inspire rather than deter them. Probably because unlike the kids, they’re driving instead of trudging uphill.

I don’t know anyone who likes door-to-door salespeople. I know they are just trying to pay the rent, mortgage or college tuition and that most of them don’t put on their sales-face thinking “Yee-haw – I get to go bug the shit out of some folks today!”

I try not to hate them. But they just won’t GO AWAY.

You interrupt a critical, hot-main-character-might-get-whacked moment in my TV binge-fest to tell me about your super-fast, top-notch internet services? Go away, because I’m about to use my current internet magic to tweet about what a douche you are. Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones is talking about the God of Tits and Wine and you show up telling me that your version of God will save my soul if I just keep my own tits covered and stop drinking so much wine?  No thank you. Go chase down that internet services provider dude who was just here and save him.

I actually WAS frustrated with my internet provider a few years back and decided to switch. I did some research, chose a company and was nearly fed up enough to make a call. Then a representative from the company I had chosen showed up at my open door on a balmy spring day.

He was polite. He was nice. But I axed my plan to switch providers and am still with the same company. Because screw that. No matter how bad I might want what you’re selling, if you show up at my door trying to get me to buy it, I will either go without or get it somewhere else.

I am an introvert. I extrovert all day at work because I have bills. I go out and socialize with friends and family because I love them too much to let my deprived inner hermit keep me from seeing them. But that’s all I’ve got. My home is my sanctuary. It is where I recharge in peace, quiet and solitude.

If you invade that space and force me to extrovert enough to politely tell you to row your douchecanoe on up the road just because I had the audacity to open the door and let in some fresh air, I will never buy your shit. You and your company now have a Scarlet Letter.

Only the “A” stands for “Asshole.”

Cryin’ in My Coffee

It was a Monday morning, and I was in tears.

Yes, I am one of those Debbie Downer people who isn’t too fond of Monday. I don’t hate my job. Sometimes I almost like it. But if I’m honest, there’s a list of 100 things I’d rather do than go to it. I read all the “Happy Monday!” positive thinking posts on Facebook and do my best to go down that sunshine road myself. I tell myself to be thankful for having a job that makes Monday, well … Monday. Then I realize that I’m also thankful for my cat. I love him. A lot. That doesn’t mean I bliss out on gratitude every time I scoop his litter box. Why would I? There’s poop in there.

If having a job is the cat I’m thankful for, Monday is the poop in the litter box. Even so, while its arrival makes me utter phrases like “douchecanoe” with astounding frequency, it rarely reduces me to tears.

Lee (my partner, for those who don’t know) had gone out and gotten me a cup of coffee from the nearby Farm Store. When I make my own coffee, I skimp on the creamer in the name of being calorie/health-conscious. When he makes it for me, there’s none of that. It tastes like heaven and there’s steam rising off the top.

That tearful Monday morning, I had a beautiful cup of Lee-coffee warming my hands, and all I was doing was bawling over it. How could even the Grand Mistress of Monday Haters not be soothed by the fact that someone loved her enough to go fetch her coffee to kick off the week?

All I can say is that while the Grand Mistress of Monday Hating was grateful, she was also heartbroken. You see, our coffee pot had given up the ghost that morning. Without warning, it had just up and died. That’s why he had run out to get me coffee before rousing me to face my Monday. No one who has lived with me ever wants to face the decaffeinated version of me while it tries to prepare for a 9 am meeting.

I admit I’m an over-emotional person. Dog food commercials can make me cry. But normally I’m not so self-centered that I’ll lose control over the loss of a replaceable convenience item. Especially not since losing Mom. Nothing puts not sweating the small stuff in perspective like losing that which is not replaceable, and which you’d never want to replace anyway.

The broken coffee pot wasn’t tragic because I’m addicted to java, or even because it was Monday and things tend to set me off just a little easier on that poop-scooping day of the week. It was a tragedy in my little world because Mom had given me that coffee pot to me on our last Christmas together. She had also given me my love — ok, addiction — to coffee. Growing up, I knew that if I tried to have a conversation with her before her second cup, she would glare at me like an angered Mommy Dearest even though in reality she was the gentlest, most giving mother in the world. When I grew up, I inherited that pre-coffee face just like I did her eyes.

Coffee and Mom are intertwined for me. She had picked out that coffee pot for me, her Bitch-From-Hell-Before-Her-Java offspring. Now she was gone, and the coffee pot was broken.

And so I sobbed over my nice warm cup of Farm-Store java, the kind of choking, soaking sobs you sob when grief is raw and fresh, even though Mom had been gone for 8 months. That’s what happens when grief blindsides you with an unexpected blow. You can armor up for the things you know will hurt – the holidays and anniversaries and just-yours family traditions that now have big holes in them. But those random moments in life where normally everything is OK and suddenly you realize that no, everything is different forever and ever? Those get you, and so you sob.

So that’s what I did, and then I got up and got ready for my meeting. And here’s the thing:  Those moments get you, and they hurt like the day you got the bad news and like all the awful things that happened after. But then you cry them out and you breathe and when it is all done, you might even feel just a bit more whole again.

I can’t use the coffee pot Mom gave me anymore. But she’s still with me every time I drink a cup, no matter where it came from. She is in the steam rising off the cup and in the Pre-Java-Bitchface I make before my first few sips. She is, and always will be.

Love You Mom. Like a Dog.

Sometimes You’re Here

Dear Mom,

Sorry for being away so long. But as I’m sure you know, it hasn’t been completely for lack of writing. I’ve been cautiously trying on my freelance training wheels and taking them for little spins. It is a small step towards getting my head back in the “write” place.

I plan to continue “your story through my eyes” here soon, but what I wanted to share in this visit is just how much you’ve been with me in the last few weeks. I’m always feeling your presence in beautifully unexpected ways, but I think my recent “sightings” have been my favorites.

You see, it is always obvious to me how much of you lives on in different ways in Jamie and Jordyn. But recently I’ve been realizing you are here in ME, too. That’s probably because we’ve had such bitter cold weather, along with quite a few snowy and icy days – the kind of days I end up spending stuck inside with myself. Those kinds of days are built for introspection.

I remember our winters together well. Our hangouts at Hawley’s would usually go from weekly to monthly in January and February. You HATED the cold. You went into hibernation mode in much the same way I do (well, as much as I can around work, anyhow) when the temps soar into the 90’s.

We’ve always been self-entertaining units, you and I. We could lose ourselves for days in books and movies and the internet. We lived in our heads enough that unlike some, we could go long periods without leaving our homes beyond venturing out to our yards for a little fresh air and nature. In that way, even though you hated the cold, you (and I) were built for snow days.

I have a love/hate relationship with that aspect of myself. I love that I can figure out a way to be not just content but happy and entertained wherever I am. I love not needing a lot of money to enjoy myself. I love that when plans I’ve looked forward to fall through, I may be disappointed but can quickly figure out other ways to occupy myself. Sometimes, though, I wonder if I miss out on a lot of fun because it takes REALLY wanting to go somewhere and do something to get me out of my own head and into the world. When you can entertain yourself easily, the stresses of making plans and getting out and about compared to the ease of just “doing your thing” mean you have to push yourself to go live sometimes.

So that part? It kind of sucks. But I have been ever so grateful for it this winter. As I’ve spent cold icy weekends and snow days away from work reading and writing and enjoying my own company, I’ve been highly aware that my ability to do so comes from the introverted, reflective side of my personality that I inherited from you. I smile when I think about how you’d call or text to tell me that a Harry Potter marathon was coming on, or about some unknown author you’d found on your Kindle. I feel your guidance in my mental meanderings almost as if you were here to talk with me.

We had a really nice day last Saturday – sunshine and highs in the 40s. I went to visit Mommom and saw two of the fattest robins I’ve ever seen pecking around in the one patch of her yard that wasn’t still snow-covered. I realized spring is not far away at all, and that too made me think of you.

You blossomed like one of your flowers when the weather got warmer. You couldn’t wait to start gardening, to have your morning coffee on the deck, to have our family grown-up Easter egg hunt.

I felt just a hint of that blossoming when I saw those robins. Because although I love watching the snow fall, and am like a kid when it comes to getting a day off or work-at-home day because there’s white stuff on the ground, even I am starting to get a little cabin fevery. If the itch to get out and are bout it hitting an introvert like me, I imagine the extraverts are going absolutely bugshit.

They are calling for temps in the 40s and 50s this week, with no more snow in sight (well, other than the shit-ton currently on the ground).

I feel you in that weather forecast, watching and waiting for your flowers – and your family – to begin coming out of hibernation after a brutal winter.

You are waiting for us to bloom.

Love you Mom. Like a dog.

Sharing Your Story

Dear Mom,

For Christmas, Jamie got me, Jordyn and herself each a copy of a book called “Healing After Loss.” It is a daily meditation tool of sorts – a different thought on grief and moving forward for each day of the year, written by a woman named Martha Whitmore Hickman, who suffered the loss of a child.

Today’s page was about “sharing your story.” It talked about how in sharing the story of  your grief process, you may unknowingly help someone else who is or will be going through their own loss. It also talked about how sharing the story of your loved one – their life and your special moments with them – helps keep them alive and soothes both you and others who loved them through fond memories.

I think I have done a pretty good job in this blog of the former. I’ve written several pieces on losing you and the roller-coaster that has been the aftermath.

But I haven’t done nearly as much on the latter. I haven’t shared your story, or painted much of a picture of who you were in life other than our last year here together.

Perhaps that makes sense. I had to get those grief-thoughts out there before I could dig deeper.  That grief has been like wearing a heavy winter coat on a 90-degree day. It smothered the stuff underneath. Only by shedding it can I let those other things out to breathe in the cool fresh air.

I am slowly coming to the point where I can once again feel that air on my face. So I plan to spend the next several entries on your story.

To so many, you were James’s wife, Pam and Jamie’s mother, and Jordyn’s grandmother. Mom. Momma. Mommy. Nee. Granny Bean.

But before you were any of that, you were Sabina. We so often see our mothers only through our “post-me” lenses.  I was the first to come along and turn you into “Mom,” but you were so many things before me or even Daddy were on your radar.

So this is a little of what I know of you before me – before any of us.

– You were born in Pittsburgh, and although your family relocated to Baltimore when you were still a very little girl, you carried the town and The Steelers in your heart your whole life.

– You had three sisters – Natalie, Dorothy and Cindy. You loved them all, but while Natalie was much older and Cindy much younger, you and Dorothy were so close in age that I think of you as “almost twins.” Knowing that my aunts carry you in their hearts and that their landscape of memories includes all these pre-me moments I could never carry on for you in any way that does them justice has been a huge comfort to me.

– You lost your dad before you came to Baltimore – you were so young that perhaps you didn’t know him nearly as well as you would have liked. He was mostly pictures and stories and other people’s memories, but I always sensed that in your heart he was still somehow your hero.

– Your childhood was not an easy one.  That is not for this blog. But the person it made you is. You were fiercely determined that your daughters and granddaughters would experience a different kind of childhood, and we did.

– You saw yourself as an awkward kid. I never saw you that way, but you told me you felt like all your features were too big for your frame. “Big eyes, big ears, big nose in a skinny little face on a skinny little body,” you’d laugh. And then you grew into them and you were stunning. Not just stereotypically pretty, but soulfully beautiful. Especially those “big eyes,” with those never-ending eyelashes. When I was a kid, the way you said you felt about your looks as a girl gave me hope. I’d look at my beautiful mother and realize that one day all my parts that I didn’t think fit quite right would click into place and work together instead of against each other too.

– As a teenager, you went after what you wanted. You were smart and serious and you wanted to go to a Catholic girl’s school instead of a public school, so you worked and rode public transportation to make it happen. How many teenage girls would put so much extra responsibility on themselves to go to a school where there were NO BOYS? Surely not me!

– Many of the happier childhood memories you shared with me included trips to visit your Aunt Annie and Aunt Genny. I also remember stories of your mom working at a book factory, and of Aunt Nat, your oldest sister, getting married and having her first daughter Kim when Aunt Cin, your youngest sister, was pretty much a toddler herself. Aunt Cin wasn’t crazy about the idea of a new baby and tried to throw Kim in the trash (sorry Aunt Cin!).

– Your first boyfriend was named Milton Dodo. I have no clue if I’m spelling that right. I always pictured him as looking like Crispin Glover as young George McFly in Back to the Future, and once you told me I was kind of right.

– You wanted to be either a nun or a brain surgeon. I came along and you became “Mom” instead. When I’d whine to you about how much farther along I’d be with my writing if I didn’t have to work full-time, you’d remind me that if it weren’t for me you’d be wearing a habit or carrying a scalpel and say “that’s just life.”

I told you I wasn’t sorry I’d kept you from becoming a nun, because again – NO BOYS, but that I was sorry about the brain surgeon thing. Then one night when we’d had a few you gave me a laundry list of all the changes you’d make to our brains (mine, Dad’s, Jay’s) if you had become one, and I told you I was no longer sorry about that either. I so love that we could always talk and laugh about some of these things so many mothers and daughters I know would consider off-limits and maybe even hurtful. We shared a warped sense of humor and had a foundation of love and understanding that allowed us to be real.

– You met Dad because a close girlfriend of yours who went to school with him fixed you up. He was “that guy,” the one running around having fun and getting in trouble and doing what he wanted, while you were preparing for the nunnery or medical school. You fell in love with him and his parents too – one of my most powerful memories from our talks about your pre-me world is how Mommom and Grandad treated you like a daughter almost from day one.  I’m really glad you chose Dad over the nunnery. Even if we do have souls and mine would have ended up popping out somewhere else in that situation, I can’t imagine any other family that would have put up with me.

I could go on, but that’s enough for now. The story of a beautiful life is best told in chapters.

Love you Mom. Like a Dog.

 

 

 

 

Ordinary Worlding

Dear Mom,

I can’t believe how much time I have let get away from me since my last posting.  Take work, add a healthy dose of holidays and a great run of AFC football craziness, and time flies.

You have been with me every day, of course, so you already know the reasons behind the empty echo chamber that has been my writing lately. And you also know they aren’t all bad, or even mostly bad.

One of the themes in our conversations over the years was how to live a good life. Because you were my mother, you were proud of my ambitions. But they frustrated you, too. I have always been one of those “all or nothing” people. If I was chasing after a goal, it became an obsession. Every waking moment not being spent on that goal felt like a waste of time.

When my goal became to write and publish a book, and to do a butt-ton of other writing besides, that mindset became a little overwhelming. Those are long and arduous endeavors even when they are labors of love. And when you have a full-time-plus job in the kind of field where your work doesn’t always – or even usually – end at the moment the clock says the office is closed, tackling such a big project can completely fill the rest of your remaining hours.

While I was going full-speed ahead on the book, I felt happy. More than happy. I felt drive and purpose and determination. For some, those are the definition of happiness.

But in that way that only a mother can do, you saw something missing in me even when I was on top of the world. You saw that I resented anything and everything that took me away from my writing world. Working. Cleaning. Eating. Sleeping. Taking care of other obligations. Hell, sometimes even doing fun things that weren’t related to writing felt “off.”

I wasn’t capable of being fully in a moment that wasn’t spent wordsmithing. Even if my body and some of my heart was there, my mind was far away.

You saw that, and you called me on it. And we’d talk about how I didn’t mean to be that way, it was just that I felt like my life wouldn’t be complete until I was where I wanted to be. It wasn’t good enough – I wasn’t good enough – unless writing enabled me to quit my job and become a full-time author. I was trying so hard to free myself from my existing obligations so I’d have more time for the things I loved that I forgot how to enjoy the limited free time I DID have.

You liked that I wanted something more. You hated that I couldn’t appreciate all I had until I got it.

“You have to learn to be ordinary in an extraordinary world.” You told me that over and over again.

At first, I didn’t like that advice at all. I didn’t want to be ordinary. I thought it was your way of trying to nicely say that maybe I didn’t have what it took be a writer, and I’d be a happier person if I pulled my head out of my butt and got on with other things.

Then you got sick.

It was over that time – those awful and wonderful and beautiful and ugly moments that we had left – that I started to understand what you really meant. During that time period, I didn’t think about my book or any other type of writing much at all. How could something as inconsequential as finishing my book or writing a blog matter when we were all fighting for your life?

It couldn’t.

And so in those months, freed of all thoughts of what I wanted for my OWN future and focused completely on yours, I truly learned to live in the moment.

The obligations that annoyed me, like going to work or the grocery store or cleaning? Those became precious moments of normal living. My office was no longer a prison that kept me from writing. It was a place where a band of kind coworkers looked out for me and supported me. It was a place where I could solve problems and get little bits of something done – how good that felt when everything else was spinning out of control!

And the times we had together? When you felt good, they were beautiful and I wanted them to go on forever. I didn’t care if I never typed another sentence as long as we could talk and watch some football and eat some wings in your living room, and you were laughing and truly enjoying the game and the food was tasty to you instead of making you feel sick. Even the bad times – the doctor visits and procedures and days you felt like shit, mattered in a way that nothing ever had before.

I spent the first few months after you went away in a zombie state. I worked and ate and slept and cleaned and did things with friends and family, but most of the time I was hazy. I was functioning, and that was enough. If I crawled out of the protective mental bubble that was allowing me to do that much, I was afraid I crumble into a lost little ball of freakitude. I didn’t think about writing, and I didn’t care that I wasn’t thinking about it.

Gradually, with your spiritual guidance, that has changed. I am present in my life again. My laughter is real more often than not, and so are my tears.  I feel true frustration at work when I have a problem to solve, because I care about getting things done again. I feel true satisfaction when I get them done. I feel love and appreciation for family and friends and animals in a deeper sense than ever before, although I always did value them above all else.

I am feeling the urge to write again, in bits and snippets. I took a leap of faith and shared the first part of my book with a group of readers. I began playing with the unfinished bits in short spurts and stretches, when the mood struck. I began thinking of other things I’d like to write and jotting down notes.

But this time, those goals have a different priority in my life. They are not all-consuming. I spent most of my holiday break cleaning and reorganizing my home, because it needed to be done and I wanted to. The old me would have resented the hell out of that – it was supposed to be WRITING TIME, damn it! The person I am today enjoyed the act of doing it as well as the end result.

Everything matters now. Life isn’t something that takes me away from my writing. Writing is just one important component of my life.

It is struggling to find its place again, but I feel like that is so much better than when it was shoving everything else that mattered aside.

I am learning how to be more like you – “ordinary in an extraordinary world.” Your life was cut short, but you embraced every moment you had with grace and acceptance and love and enjoyment – and sometimes frustration and annoyance and pissed-offitude too.

You lived seeing the importance in everything around you, and seeing every moment and task as where you were supposed to be and what you were supposed to be doing. You tried to love them all.

That sounds ordinary, but it made you …. and your life … extraordinary.

That’s what you were trying to tell me. That’s how you were pushing me to be. Not because you didn’t believe I could do anything else, but because you knew that only those who live that way can truly have a life.

Writing is finding its place in my new outlook. That feels good too, but no better than the way every other puzzle piece is fitting.

And I’m OK with that.

Love you Mom. Like a Dog.

 

 

 

I Saw A Ghost

Dear Mom,

I have a confession to make.

You know that book I wrote? The one that consumed all my time and attention for a year? The one that I scribbled scenes for in committee meetings and babbled nonstop about over drinks at the bar every weekend? The one that filled me such inexplicable pride when I wrote “The End” the Christmas before you got sick? The one that actually had me teaching myself how to query agents and going to writer’s conferences and learning about self-publishing?

Mom, I’ve done absolute jack shit with it since you went away. If I’m being completely honest – long before that. I barely touched it the entire time you were sick.

I could give you a million excuses.

Time. But time was always a struggle with the demands of my job, and it didn’t stop me back then.

Heartsickness. I miss you, and some days just doing what I need to do to be a functioning adult with a day job exhausts me. But let’s face it – we both know writing is a healing tool for me, so that one doesn’t fly.

I’m at the hard part. Writing my story was FUN. So freaking much fun. Editing is not. Editing is more like doing math, and I always hated using that part of my brain. But every writer has to suck that up at some point if they ever want their work to be more than something that takes up space on their hard drive.

I’m afraid of rejection. Publishing is scary. As long as I don’t get to the point where the book is truly ready to publish, I don’t have to face the possibility that I suck. But I knew that going in too.

To each and every one of those points, you’d tell me to stick it up my ass. You were always good at pointing out when someone was making excuses rather than diving in and taking a challenge.

The truth is, I think my biggest block at the moment is not having you. I wrote this book, but you were almost as much a part of the process as I was. I shared bits and pieces with many friends, but you were the one and only person who knew just about everything. You read the most excerpts. You knew when I had a good writing day and when I was in a slump. You fell in love with my main character just like I did. Your thoughts helped me keep him and many of the other characters real … or as real as they were going to be given my topic.

You made me believe I could do it. You cheered me on and were so happy for me when I was in that place that writers go when a story has grabbed them by the imaginary balls and won’t let go. You were with me through the manic joy of the storytelling process. You laughed with me and commiserated with me when I was struggling.

You were a reader your entire life. I owe you my love of the written word. We always fell in love with the same books. So when I tackled writing my own, my guiding principle was  “if Mom had this book in her hand, would it be so good she couldn’t put it down?”

I so wanted you and I to go through it going out into the world together. I needed you there if it failed, but more importantly, I WANTED you there if it succeeded. In my wildest dreams, it paid off all our debts and our entire family lived happily ever after. Maybe reality would have been more along the lines of all our friends bought a copy and we made enough money for a nice dinner somewhere. That would have been OK too.

But the idea that you wouldn’t be here when the book went out into the world? That never crossed my mind when I was writing it. It was unimaginable. And now it just doesn’t seem right.

The truth is, there is a part of me I try not to acknowledge that is beating the shit out of myself for that. I started too late. I didn’t write fast enough. If only. If only. If only.

All those what ifs have squashed my determination. The urge to work on the book comes now and then, in tiny spurts that fizzle out as soon as I remember something I need to do for work or notice that the kitchen could use a good cleaning.

The part of me that says that since I didn’t “get er done” in time for you to see the doing I shouldn’t let myself experience publishing and succeeding or failing without you has been winning. I don’t want to fail without you here to hold my hand. I don’t want to succeed without you here to say “that’s my daughter. Now take your Momma to a tropical island.”

I’m not writing this just to whine to you. I really do need one of your “suck it up” tirades more than ever, but since you can’t give me one I wouldn’t put you through just listening to me bitch and moan.

See, I have a friend who started writing a book.

He’s had this great story idea stewing in his brain for a while. It is the kind of story that you and I always loved to read. He’s got quirky characters and a unique plot line and let’s just say this shit could be really, really good.

The thing is, unlike me, he is not someone who always dreamed of being a writer. He mulled the possibility over as a potential retirement hobby down the road, but he’s not there yet. He was never one of those people who felt compelled to write or go crazy, like I am. But he got bit by a damn good story bug, and it has him totally infected.

I have a lot of writer friends, but most of them are far away and we just communicate electronically. We sought each other out because we were looking to connect with other writers. Otherwise, we’d never have known one another.

There is just something different about seeing a friend you met for completely different reasons (in this case, work) catch the writing bug and dive in headfirst.

He comes to me with the fledgling first chapters. We talk about story lines and plot twists. We discuss what is enough description and what is too much. We envision what his characters look like.  He can’t wait to go home and start writing again.

And the whole time, he freakin’ GLOWS. I’ve always heard that pregnant women glow. Perhaps they do. But a writer in the throes of a good story coming to life? Those crazy bastards are bright purple neon, baby.

I know, because I used to be one. I used to blind myself in the mirror with that shit.

And when I see the way he looks when I’m reading a chapter or when we’re talking about his book, I see a ghost. The ghost of that girl.

In a way, it feels a bit like how we were when I was writing my book. Only he’s me, and I’m in your role.  Nothing I’ve tried since you left has made that part of me want to wake up until now. But over the last few days, I’ve felt her coming back to life. She’s yawning and stretching and has a long way to go to get her energy back. She probably has a bit of amnesia. But she’s still there.

I still don’t want to do it without you. But somehow, I think this experience is helping me get the strength to do that. Not the strength to finish the editing and go through the crazy train of publication. I know I’ve got the balls for that, when I’m ready. I’m talking about the strength to forgive myself for not doing it while you were here, so that I can.

A year ago in October, I was watching you start a horrible journey that we would all walk with you, until you had to turn onto a path that was only wide enough for you to go alone. This October, I am watching a friend start a wonderful, amazing journey that I took myself a few years back, and it is bringing me joy and a desire to fuel my own tank and at least start taking a few day trips.

I have to believe you have a hand in that.

Love you Mom. Like a dog.