Monday, April 16, 2018

Like a Pressure Cooker

Monday morning again. I have a short time in the quiet of my office as I have some daughter duties to tend to this morning. I will return as quickly as possible and take the hours left to me. Headliner has gone to print . I am very excited about that. I have participated in this process seven times now but the thrill has not diminished in the least and I can't wait to hold the finished book. I am proud of the work we all have done. I love the cover and I believe in the story.The story is a simple one of love, loss and struggling to make sense of it and find your way through. Just before bed last night I happened upon Willie Nelson's new release entitled 'Something You Get Through'. His voice is faltering a bit, his face shows a life lived and his words spoke deeply to me. I have always bristled at the phrase " getting over it" when it comes to grieving. Some may say by writing another book about loss I am stuck in the not getting over it. I beg to differ in the loudest possible voice. I can only speak for myself but I believe it is the getting through that counts.Now the getting through looks different for everyone and I can only speak to my own experience. At this point nineteen years after loosing Zac my grief is often like a pressure cooker. Certainly not as often as it once did but now and again the grief builds up, presents itself in dreams and blows off the lid.At those times the pain and fear and panic is as strong as it was in the first moments, days and months. The methods of getting through are learned, the belief you can rally is established and the lid is placed back on.I am so thankful for that and accept the reality of what my getting through looks like.Just as being Zac's mother for twenty years gave me immeasurable gifts ,navigating my way though loss has given me blessings as well.It is not up to me to question why and all I am truly left to do is my best and call witness to the journey. Perhaps in doing that I can in some way encourage others.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Books Don't Write Themselves

It is a writing day, a wonderful stretch of hours ahead of me, writing day. I say often just how much I appreciate these days.My mind is juggling lots of feelings this morning. Scrolling down my FB feed I see many people wearing hockey jerseys to support the Humboldt Broncos .My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends, the surviving players, the first responders, the medical professionals , the bus and the truck drivers.This loss is devastating on so many levels. Not being a hockey playing family I have no jersey to wear and no hockey sticks to set out but my heart is with the country. My heart is with anyone facing loss and suffering.I do believe a caring heart does not shy away from giving voice to the heartbreak and challenge of dealing with loss at any level.So today I take the gift of telling a story. I love how the story unfolds and changes as I give it the time and attention. Taking what I feel , what I know, what I observe and combine it with what I make up is such a joy. Books don't write themselves is a common saying around here as is Sunday suppers don't make themselves, Bathrooms don't clean themselves, etc. Broken hearts don't heal themselves either. Healing and surviving loss takes hard work, love and support , time and truthfulness, crying and talking, hugging and hoping, simple acts of putting your feet on the floor and taking one difficult day at a time. Life throws the loss in with the love, the joy with the sorrow, the unimaginable with the astounding. And I try to write books that mirror all of that. So many books so little time.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Morning After , Thirty Six Years Ago

My baby girl turned thirty six yesterday.Meg was my second born. Her brother Zac was a delightful three year old who was waiting for a brother or sister. We were living in a small shed-like building we'd built on our property dreaming of building the big house some day.Stories of those 'pioneer days' are the stories we still tell. When Zac was given the job of telling his Grammie we were getting a new baby her response was" Don't be so ridiculous".It was ridiculous to some that we believed we could have two kids in a ten by ten shed with a sleeping loft. I had designed a macrame crib that I began constructing to hang over Zac's bed in the corner. Probably not CSA approved and the reality of this plan hit me when Meg was about three weeks old. I hit the road with my friend Marilyn looking for a trailer to buy accepting the shed life was going to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. We bought a trailer and moved it onto our property living in it for five years as we built the big house.But my thoughts are on the morning after. The night before when we'd dropped Zac off at Mom and Dad's and started in to the hospital in a snowstorm. Burton got Dad's tractor out of the garage and towed our truck to the top of the driveway. Crazy! Then we began our trip in to Saint John not giving me a whole lot of time before the delivery of a 9 lb 4oz beautiful baby girl. Megan Joy.And what a joy she has been. Her dad loves to hear the phone ring and then hear me laugh knowing it's our girl I'm talking to. Oh how quickly thirty six years goes by.So many stories , so many memories , blessings , challenges, joys and sorrows. Happy Birthday beautiful girl!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Happy Easter

April again. This is a month of so many facets. The sun is intensifying , the ground is muddy but drying. The birthdays and anniversaries are many and hold joy and sorrow. A new book waits in the wings. Summer seems closer and possibilities endless. Yesterday was Easter.Family gathered at Chapin and Brianne's beautiful home and it was amazing to see the generations from 85 to six months fill the house with love and promise.Answered prayers and bountiful blessing echoed in that home and this morning I am processing it all.This is a month for me that always requires a huge amount of processing . I do acknowledge the pain of it but so gratefully acknowledge the blessing of it as well. This is the nineteenth year we have been called to mourn but I am confident we will be carried through the struggle with as much grace and wonder as the past years afforded us. Oh how I wish Zac were here to take in the beauty and wonder of the blessing of our growing and changing family.This morning I sit in the quiet comfort of this April day and let it all settle and be.The beauty, the bounty, the blessing; the sorrow , the struggle , the heartbreak.April.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

And Now it's Tuesday

Me again. I know I just wrote yesterday and I don't usually write two days in a row. But on this gorgeous, sunny, bright Tuesday morning I feel the need to write again. I might just be avoiding the task at hand which is to conduct a peer review of a book for TWUC or I might just feel the need to tell about my good news. I have lots of good news happening and some of it I can't talk about in detail yet so here goes.Burton got up first this morning so I wasn't woken up by my old dog Biscuit sneezing at my closed bedroom door. That is usually the way he alerts me to the fact that he has to go out to pee after his long night's sleep curled up on Paige's bed. He is a creature of habit as are we. As I contemplated getting up to face this beautiful sunny day I thought about how much I love mornings and the deeply established routine of my retirement , second career days. Mornings hold such promise, such potential and the gift of time that I dreamed of for so many years. Coffee, breakfast,journal writing, a bath in my new beautiful tub and getting to my office. I love it every single day it happens and feel grateful every single day. On the days I have to leave my house I miss the wonderful feeling being home brings. Yesterday I waited patiently for the news conference to take place in Halifax at 1:00 announcing the shortlists for the 2018 Atlantic Book Awards. I had been contacted almost two weeks ago regarding the shortlisting of The Memory Chair for the Ann Connor Brimer. I kept it quiet only telling my close family and one or two friends. The second I saw it online I shared the news. Six years ago I went through the lead up events , traveled to St. John's NFLD and won the Ann Connor Brimer with my first book The Year Mrs. Montague Cried. That was an unforgettable thrill.This time I know what to expect but it does not lessen the joy I feel to be shortlisted. Congratulations Charis Cotter and Sheree Fitch my fellow nominees in the category and all the other authors and publishers in the Atlantic Book Awards lineup.As I sit in the solitude of my office I acknowledge that none of the accolades or awards would be possible without the day by day slugging away at this keyboard. This is the true gift. My mornings, my afternoon walks and my words, sentences, paragraphs and pages come one at a time . Sometimes we get acknowledged for the work and that feels wonderful but so does this . My home, my office, my days are the gift beyond measure.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mother /Daughter Book Club

It is a beautiful Monday morning and I awake with a grateful and eager heart. Spring is creeping in one small step at a time but it is arriving. I look forward to stepping out on my back deck and welcoming each day as the weather warms up. We are hoping to do some outside renovations and the chaos and eventual completion of that is exciting to me. This winter saw the collapse of my beloved arbor made for me by a dear friend the year of our 25th anniversary. I will miss its presence but will reclaim the space and decide later how to accommodate the huge kiwi vine that used to wrap around it. Change is the constant that is for sure.Yesterday I hosted a Mother /Daughter book club at the Saint John Central Library. I arrived about five minutes early, set up and waited.I wrote in my journal while waiting, remembering two previous library events , one attended by two girls and one where nobody but my cousin Jan and I showed up. I was hoping for at least something in between two and nobody. Then I heard a voice down stairs asking where the Mother / Daughter book club was meeting.So seconds later Tanya and her daughter Emma walked in the room and we had a book club. We sat for an hour together talking about and reading from The Sewing Basket.Emma , a keen reader was generous and kind. Tanya offered much to the discussion and observed that though a small book The Sewing Basket was packed with lots of relationships. In the re-reading and discussing passages I saw things I wasn't even aware that were there.I talked about the writing and how characters surfaced and changed and developed as I wrote. I love The Sewing Basket for many reasons,one being that my daughter loves it and it was wonderful to meet two others that love it too. A full room would have been great but the two that came after hearing my CBC interview were more than enough.I gave Emma a copy of The Sewing Basket because she is a reader who likes to keep books she loves close by . I am so happy that my third book has found another home.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Happy Birthday Gladys

How quickly the weeks , months and years go by. I am so happy to be in the quietness of a morning in my office to reflect a bit. The snow has not begun but school has been cancelled which really doesn't affect me at all but seems like a reprieve never the less.Today is a writing day.My work in progress is rolling along and I see being able to finish it by the middle of May.Spring has arrived even though the weather seems to be fighting it. March is a scrappy month. April approaches again this year bringing nineteen years of missing Zac and learning how to be in the world without him. Mom and Dad will come back from their winter in Florida. Mom will see her ninetieth birthday and we will continue to find our way through her savage disease, no longer having the gift of carrying on a conversation with my funny, anxious, loving mother. Monday I attended Gladys 95th birthday party. She sat in the middle of the large room at the Dr. Snow home and welcomed her well wishers. She looked radiant. In spite of some physical decline her mind and spirit shine brightly and grace all who know her.I look ahead to another book launch , market season, Word Spring , award ceremonies , royalty cheques and lots more. Summer will come and we will welcome our girls. Changes and blessings are on the horizon. Yesterday on my walk I paused to give thanks for the past , the future and the very moment of the present. I stood looking up at a beautiful blue sky surrounded by a pristine, bright, white snow cover and breathed in the present moment. Our weeks , months and years are of course made up of those present moments. May we be truly mindful of each one and the blessing of those moments tied together giving us the life we've been gifted with.