“Was writing your book cathartic?”

Having recently released a memoir and going out to speak about it with other people there’s one question I can count on being asked at almost any venue:

“Was writing this book cathartic?”

The first few times that I was asked this question I had to pause before my response. I wanted the answer to be a solid ‘yes’. Surely digging that deep, pouring my soul onto page after page of what ultimately became a book must be cathartic. In the writing of the book some aching and wounded part of me had been healed; negative thoughts dealt with and then released. Perhaps even some pressure valve of the soul had blown off some steam and left me quiet, relieved, rejuvenated? A bit lighter?

But here’s the thing. Writing the book was not at all cathartic.

Not. At. All.

Choosing to write a book about my journey into grief, through it, and then out the far side, required going back and re-living every painful experience again from the very beginning: sitting next to my daughter when she took her last breath; telling her siblings that their sister had died; saying goodbye to what had been my daughter and hello to a backpack filled with woe deepening into more woe, and questions begetting questions that would burden me day in and out for years. During the writing I had to revisit those long months where I struggled to find a belief system and a faith in God, or at the very least a sense of providence. It required re-opening the conversation with myself and others about what happens when we die and where do our souls go when they release from our bodies. Or do they actually go somewhere?

While I was in my early stages of grieving the death of my daughter I wrote privately in my journals about all of these things. At that time I was trying to make sense of my head and my heart. Those writings in the moment lead to insights and glimpses of a comforting future. Those writings along the way most certainly were helpful. Personal writing while I was immersed in my suffering was my safe haven. The journal writing that became the seeds of my memoir was most definitely helpful. It was probative in nature. I raged and I railed and worked through my many issues surrounding love, loss, and life after death. Those writings ultimately guided me to a place of comfort. Those writings at the time left me quiet, relieved, rejuvenated. Yes, even lighter. They led me back to a place of truly embracing life and living and those writings along the way were certainly cathartic.

But going back into grief retroactively to set together a narrative and a story worth sharing?  No. That required not just dipping my toe back into those cold shark infested waters but fully immersing myself in the ocean of grief in which for years I had worked to stay afloat and then learn to navigate. That was not cathartic. That was deeply painful and yet a necessary part of the process.

I chose to share my story when I had been successful in working my way from the depths of sorrow back to a state of living and embracing life. Until that point it seemed the writings would not be of interest to anyone other than me (or perhaps my children at some point in the future).

Writing in and of itself can bring us a great sense of understanding ourselves and the world around us. If we write our innermost thoughts we must be honest. We must write as if no one else will see what we write. When and if we are transformed in our journey and brought to deeper levels of awareness then perhaps those words become worthy of sharing. But by the time we sit down to write a book to put out in to the world the work of the soul has been done. Generally the early work is the cathartic bit.

All that said, writing saved my life. Being fearless with what may come out on to the page in any given moment was an important ingredient to getting to the meat of the matter. The mighty pen pulled me through. When it felt it was time to write for someone other than myself it was me who pulled the pen across the pages. That was difficult. That part hurt. But I would do it all again in a heartbeat because sharing our stories ultimately keeps us connected, growing, living, surviving and thriving.

Note: This post initially appeared as a guest post for Daisy Hickman’s Sunny Room Studio.  I re-post it here for those of you who may have missed it on her site.  Check out Sunny Room Studio for some inspiring wisdom and writing by a talented group of writers.

Holiday Playlist for December


In the spirit of my monthly theme of  seeking Comfort and Joy I’d love to share with you some of my holiday music favorites. The list below represents a holiday playlist that has been the staple in our house since my youth. The lighter selections have been curated du
ring the course of my adult years. I hope you enjoy some of these recordings. They are playing on ‘random select’ in our house from the day after Thanksgiving until December 26th. It is heavy on the classical recordings as that was such a large part of my childhood but Bing Crosby certainly lightens things up and the Carols get us all singing along.   Enjoy!

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DANCE MUSIC OF THE HIGH RENAISSANCE by Boston Skyline Records. From the vault, Master recordings done in the 1950s and 1960s of Renaissance music played on period instruments
CAROLS FOR CHRISTMAS Volumes I and II Arranged and conducted by David Willocks with the Royal College of Music Chamber Choir and the Royal College of Music Brass Ensemble RYKODisc
THE TRADITIONAL SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS by GSCMusic The Mantovani Orchestra, The Gregg Smith Singers, The Dorothy Shaw Hand Bell Choir, Fort Worth Chamber Ensemble, The Texas Boys Choir, George Bragg, Conductor
HANDEL MESSIAH Philips Digital Classics Margaret Marshall, Catherine Robbin, Anthony Rolfe-Johnson, Robert Hale, Charles Brett, Saul Quirke, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists conducted by John Eliot Gardiner in London 1982
THE BOYS CHOIR OF VIENNA, CHRISTMAS VOICES AND BELLS Audiofidelity
THE BOYS CHOIR OF VIENNA, THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY Laserlight
BING CROSBY’S CHRISTMAS CLASSICS Capitol Records
BING CROSBY’S CHRISTMAS SONGS MCARecords
JAMES TAYLOR AT CHRISTMAS Columbia
HAVE YOURSELF A TRACTOR CHRISTMAS BMG
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS by Vince Guraldi Trio Fantasy Records

Thanksgiving High-Low Gratitude Challenge

IMG_7282We have a tradition in our family of playing a simple game at dinner.  We go around the table and everyone shares the high and low point of their day.  One is not allowed to say “I had no high” or “I had no low” as the high and low is a way of bracketing the day.  If one of us had a spectacular day on all fronts then the swing might not be as pronounced (High:  I got an A on my Math test.  Low:  We had mystery meat for lunch at school).  We began to play this game when our kids were moving into the sullen years so that they would participate and share.  It’s remarkable actually what you can learn from just the high and low of someone’s day.  It’s also remarkable how we ourselves can grow and thrive from considering the silver linings of each of our experiences.  The stuff of resilience is made of this.

The month of November holds my favorite holiday:  Thanksgiving.  It is a non denominational holiday and includes everyone.  The entire day is all about what’s important:  community, food, sharing, gratitude.  There are few things I love more than gathering around a well set table with biological and chosen family, friends old and new, a few non US citizens and a few stragglers.

In our house we have a Thanksgiving guestbook in which each guest signs and writes what they are thankful for that year.  Over the years it has been great fun to look back through the entries.  Even in the dark years I see that each of us found some way to find gratitude.  I do believe it has served our family well.  I do believe this is a key to moving through life’s up and downs.

This month I’d like to invite you to join me in a game.  Through the month of November I’m going to post daily my high and low from the previous day along with a line on what makes me grateful about each experience.   If you choose to read my entries you’ll find out a lot about the way my heart and mind works (for better or for worse) and I’d love to learn about yours as well. My not-so-hidden agenda is that we will all be reminded of just how much there is to be grateful for in these crazy lives of ours.  There is always a reason to find gratitude.

I’m going to make November about being present to the lessons and the gifts in all experiences.  There’s a lot to let go of.  There’s a lot to hold on to.  High Low with Gratitude helps keep it in perspective.

This is not a competition.  This is an exercise in personal insight.  It is my belief that through the expression of gratitude one’s sense of well being goes up in tandem.  Let me know what you think and I do hope you will join me each day or drop in randomly.

So here goes (and I will post this on my Facebook Author page each day):

DailyHigh:  Attending the Festival of Altars at Dia de los Muertos in the Mission of San Francisco (in full sugar face costume replete with pink accents and Charlotte’s prayer card hanging on a ribbon pinned to my skirt).  (Dia de los Muertos is a traditional Meso-American holiday dedicated to the ancestors; it honors both death and the cycle of life. In Mexico, neighbors gather in local cemeteries to share food, music, and fun with their extended community, both living and departed. The celebration acknowledges that we still have a relationship with our ancestors and loved ones that have passed away.  The skulls and white faces that participants wear are done out of reverence for the deceased to make them feel welcome upon their return visit.  It is not grim at all.  In fact, the scene is both somber and celebratory. Garfield Park was filled with alters for the candlelit evening.)IMG_7253

 

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Daily Low:  Walking through the candlelit event and missing my daughter Charlotte.

High Gratitude:   Learning about how other cultures honor their deceased gives me perspective on my own loss

Low Gratitude:  I’m grateful to be able to settle quietly into my dark spaces with the knowledge that I won’t stay there forever

The Umbilical Thread

photo I know tomorrow my abs will be sore.  Not from yoga.  Not from crunches.  I know that by attending my son’s kart race in Sonoma I will be terribly sore the next day.  This has become my familiar routine.  I perch trackside on the grandstand watching Cabot hurling and winding his way around the course at 120 mph with his bottom ½” above the ground in a steel framed open kart.  With each turn I move right along with him.  I feel the g-force.  The  grooved pavement rattles my spine from sacrum to occiput at the apex of each turn.  I am conscious of my breath.  My toes curl inside my shoes and my hands open and close as he flicks the paddles on the steering wheel, shifting the gears every second or two.   Though I don’t know how frequently he should shift I often notice as he whizzes past me on the track that our hands are moving in unison.  It isn’t that I worry about him getting hurt (although that fear is always just beneath the surface) it is more that in the intensity of his focus on the course I, too, am able to tune in and in that moment comes an awareness of my continued attachment to him. I’m not talking about mama love here and I’m not talking about helicopter parenting.  I’m talking about basic neurochemical biology (?)  As if an imperceptible spider-thread extension of the long since severed umbilical chord winds its way through the curves of the course along with him.  It tangles and twists as he makes his way around the track.  It tugs from my core to him.  Lean right, lean left, hunch forward on the straightaway.  Like it or not, I’m right there with him. Though the umbilical cord connecting child to mother is cut within moments of our children’s births I’m not sure we ever fully sever the flow of life force between the two.  We carry some essence of our children inside of us through their entire lives.  It is my belief that our children carry bits of us inside of them as well.  This does not end with the transfer of DNA and the exchange of chromosomes. DSC_0345 At a recent race my son was ahead in his final and most important event of the day.   I was elated yet sat still despite a racing heart and adrenaline coursing through my veins.  When he was taken out by another driver in turn 3 I felt his frustration, disappointment, self recrimination and anxiety as he tried in vain to start his kart then struggled to pull it off to the side to safety with only milliseconds to spare another collision.  Other times when he crosses the finish line to the checker flag my chest swells, I feel his elation, I feel his pride at a job well done.   Win or lose, I can sense his measured breathing through the passes, the ups and downs and twists and turns.  He is trained to do this.  Unwittingly I follow along and unless I’m quiet I often don’t notice that it’s happening.  These are all a part of his experience and yet I feel them to my marrow as if they were my own.   Physical and emotional.  We take it all on.  To say it is vicarious seems a disservice and muddies his journey.   I am not living through my son.  It is more than that.  It is his life yet as his mother much of what he experiences transmits straight back to me.   I feel his life whether I like it or not.   It travels along that twisted and imperceptible cord right from his gut to mine.  And there it settles occupying the space that 18 years ago he filled.  Who knows if he wants it to.  Who asked me if I wanted to take that on?  But it’s there. 209TVRoom 2

Always. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How does one hug a house?

209ExtFrontHow does one hug a house? How can I embrace a home that embraced me at a time when I most needed it?  

Yesterday I wandered room to room, tracing the outlines of the french door windows, running my hands over the door handles and the fixtures in the bathrooms, breathing in the smell and the energy of each space. I’m taking in each and every bit of this house that was here when I arrived and was what I fell in love with, and I’m taking in all the changes I made to make it my perfect nest.  

This cozy healing place was perfect for me all alone and yet it expanded perfectly for the children. Everywhere I rest my eyes triggers memories of  beauty and love, some tears but even more  comfort.  And Joy.   We danced on the sofas and coffee tables after dinner.  We snuggled by the fire.  We baked at the holidays.  

A lifetime of art from preschool to master filled the walls and shelves.  All treasures.209TVRoom I healed here. I loved here. I wrote here.  I laughed deep belly laughs and I cried large alligator tears.  I was so wholly happy here.  So full.  

The house is now empty.  The treasures are waiting for new walls and shelf space in a new home on the far coast.  The new home is ready to receive us and hold us as this one has.  But before the hello,  I am stuck in the goodbye.

Tomorrow I will no longer live here.  All of what this house has been in this lifetime now must be stored in my heart and carried in my soul.

Tomorrow I will  no longer be able to touch it. I want to hold this house the way it has held me tight.

Because tomorrow I will no longer live here.

A letter to Charlotte on the 10th anniversary of her passing

Dear Charlotte,GlobeBSukey

This time of year the weather turns crisp and clear and visibility seems to go on for miles.  But there is a chill to the wind and carries along with it the message that summer is ending.  These days now make me melancholy as they remind me of the day that you died.  I don’t need a calendar for this.  I feel it in every fiber of my being.

Sweetie pea, today it is 10 years since you died.  You would be 16 now.   In those 10 years we have suffered and ached and been stuck and unsure.  We lost faith for a while as everything we’d ever relied upon to be true and just and safe was called into question.  It was gutting and it was awful.

But Charlotte, what I want to tell you this year on the 10 year anniversary of your passing is that I’ve also changed since that day in August 2004 in positive ways that I never though possible.

Charlotte, two of the most profound life experiences for me were the day you came into the world as my daughter and the day you left the world as my daughter.  On the day you were born I remember gazing at the miracle in my arms and thinking life was complete.  A daughter.  You came in screeching and howling and we all knew you were a fighter.  Fiesty and full of life.  You were that way your entire short 6 and a half years and though you challenged me at every turn I admired your intensity.  The day you left this world you left quickly and quietly and yet the black hole that was created in my life by your absence became a shrieking and sucking force that came close to pulling the life out of me.  But Charlotte, what I am proud to tell you today is that ultimately it didn’t.   That was not going to be your legacy.

Within days sweetie pea, literally days, it was clear there were just three choices:  I could die.  I could exist.  Or I could live.  Choosing to live seemed impossible yet something inside of me knew that it was the only true course.  It wasn’t easy Charlotte.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  But it was the only real option in my book.  And it was the best way I knew to carry you with me and honor the life you had while you were here.

See Charlotte, I learned how to be a warrior from you and your siblings.  A mother’s love turns her into a warrior.  You taught me to be fierce and protective of you during your short life.  To let you do much for yourself because it felt so much better when you figured it out on your own even though the process was frustrating and difficult. I watched in awe and with pride as little you found your way in the world.   I watched as you did this and I marveled at your wisdom.   Since your death it has felt to me a bit that the roles have reversed. It was my turn to grow.  I felt you there watching me.  Nudging me along.  I felt as though I had a warrior angel rooting for me and making sure I stayed positive and true and learned to find my own way.  Thank you for that.  Because of that I am a better parent, partner, friend, citizen of the world.  It sounds like a curious legacy for a deceased child, doesn’t it?  Yet it makes perfect sense to me now.

I wanted to die when you died Charlotte.   But I didn’t get to.  I had to choose to live.  I’ve felt you sitting on my shoulder and wrapping your arms around me during the tough times along the way.  And you and I both know there were some exceptionally tough times.  But it’s been 10 years Sweetie Pea.  While I’d give anything to have you back I’ve found ways to live with the loss. I’ve learned to find a new relationship with you as a wisdom being or an angel.  I’m reconciled with life and death being just points along a continuum.  You are gone, separate, and yet still nearby.   I look to you for guidance and comfort as often as I look to God.  Now that I am open to it I see signs of you everywhere and when I sit quietly outside as I’m doing now I know that you are not too far away.  Are you listening to the gulls calling to each other over the cliffs?  Are you watching this magnificent morning with me?  I feel that you are.  That is comforting.  Separate, yet still nearby.

With all the hope and the promise, courage and inspiration I have been fortunate to have found these past ten years I will continue to move through life and be present to all of its beauty.  I’ll be there for your sister and your brother and I’ll continue to grow and to honor you by fully engaging in life and love.   I’m deeply grateful for the gifts that I have received from working through grief these last 10 years.  But as you also know Charlotte, all that said, I’ll still watch the sun set on August 18th and wish that rather than having you in my pocket that I had my arms around you, stroking your hair, chatting about your day and planning for tomorrow.

Blog Hop– Writer’s Writing

Blog Hop:  Writer’s on Writing  May 12, 2014

sukeys-first-signing

Writing is generally a solitary pursuit.  For most it requires quiet and for many (hello easily distracted mommy) it requires isolation (hello library cubicle facing the wall).  As such, it has been a great comfort to also have found a community of writer’s who work actively to support each other’s progress both on and off line.

I met Laura Munson, New York Times Bestselling author of ‘This is Not the Story You Think it Is’ when I attended one of her Haven Retreats for writers in Montana.   I attended the retreat to put some final spit and polish onto a part of the manuscript of The Angel in My Pocket that I was giving me a wee bit of trouble.   I had heard she coaxed great work out of her attendees and met them each at their level (me, at that moment, feeling rather stuck in the basement).  At her retreat I found more than just a thorough and thoughtful editor.  Laura is fiercely devoted to anyone who comes to Haven to take a powerful stand for their creative self-expression and she works her magic both on the page and off during her retreats.  It is no surprise to me that Haven was just named one of the top five retreats in the US by Open Road Media!

Last week Laura invited me to participate in a Blog Hop about Writer’s Writing and I could not resist.  Here are my answers to the four questions posed to participating writers.  Next week the three other writers whose bios are below will answer the same four questions on their blogs.  I’m honored to share the page with these talented folks, each of whom happens to have a rather unique sense of humor and outlook on life.  I look forward to sharing their responses with you next week and my responses are below.  Please feel free to leave comments.   I really enjoy hearing from you.

 What am I working on/writing?

I’ve just completed a memoir, ‘The Angel in My Pocket’ (Viking, July ‘14).  It is the story of finding my way through the depths of grief and back to a fully expressed life after losing my middle child at the age of six to a sudden high fever.  In the book, I explore loss and resilience woven through a backdrop of
 the legacy of my family’s deep cultural roots in New England.

How does my work/writing differ from others in its genre?

Fairly quickly it became clear to me that I was grieving in a different way than others. I struggled initially with a numbness that was only slightly less crippling to experience than the full brunt of sorrow. I was filled with questions about what happens when we die, where we go, how the soul does or does not continue to exist. I tried to understand grief before I allowed myself to feel it. When I finally descended into the grief I felt alienated and as though I was doing it all wrong.

I wanted to know the possibility existed to survive and even thrive after the crippling blow of losing a beloved child. I became determined to learn and grow as a woman from the grief rather than stay mired in it. Although I would never be the same I could re-build strength in the broken places while also acknowledging the full weight of my sorrow. I found no books that gave me hope that that could be my outcome. I told myself that if I emerged on the other side as I desired that I would share my story in hopes that it would give assurances to others walking through personal crisis that they too could have a similar outcome. My experience seemed relevant to me not just for the experience of grief but for any game changing life event that knocked one flat. I took notes and wrote my way through the sorrow with an eye towards sharing it later if my story ended the way I trusted it would. It did and I have.

Why do I write what I do?       

My way of coming to terms with the vicissitudes of life has always been through writing.  I have found that on the blank page, with pen in hand, I can rage and rail, write circles around myself and yet one thing has always been true for me: If I keep writing, eventually the truth of the matter for me will emerge. The gift I receive through writing has always been peace. With each small gain of insight and release of troubling thought it travelled back up my pen, spiraled around my fingers, hands and arms and settled deep into my core.   I hope some of my writing resonates with you.

How does my writing process work?       

At the age of 12 a family friend gave me a black leather-bound artists sketchbook to use as a journal that I have to this day. It was the first of many that I have kept and in those books I explored the world of emotion and the landscape of my world through writing by hand. Although inefficient in this day and age, there is a palpable connection for me between the formation of words with my own pen on the page and the ability to access the full spectrum of emotion. The pen and paper remain my best tool. When I need clarity I have found time and again that the best way for me to understand is to write. The most honest pieces of my work are born out of writing sessions when I am hunched over a table, lightly clasping a pen and allowing the small muscles of my hand to form the shapes of the letters on paper rather than clickety-clack-ing them out on a keyboard.

Prior to The Angel in My Pocket most of my writing was in essay format, personal and probative in nature. As is likely no surprise to anyone, I was utterly lost when my middle child died unexpectedly and suddenly at the age of six. My perfect world was turned on its head and nothing made sense any more. Plunged into the depths of grief and an existential crisis, I was filled with nothing but soul-searing pain and questions. Writing was one of my lifelines and the journal entries and prose that I created in those early days of grieving were the early seeds of my book. I have written the past few years to pull the sorrow from my bones and and release it.

 

Next week’s Blog Hop Bios:

Ana Hays’ writing is published in the anthologies Nothing But The Truth So Help Me God—51 Women Reveal the Power of Positive Female Connection and Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul. A former columnist and editor for Maui Vision Magazine, her writing has also appeared in Walnut Creek Magazine, Sybase Magazine, Touching Lives and other publications.

When she’s blogging, Ana writes about life’s curve balls, travel, and Avy Tails, stories told from the point of view her Australian Shepherd. Her Authorly Advise blog shares writing tid-bits from author interviews.

Ana is the founder of Write On Writers creative writing workshops inspired by the Amherst Writers and Artists method, and she leads workshops in Menlo Park, California where she lives with her husband, Ed and Avy, their prolific dog. To read more about Ana and her blogs, visit: www.anahays.com

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Yve Sturman.  Full time cop, part time writer and comedian. She is devoted to the idea that a person’s past does not define their future and she seeks to write works that inspire the human spirit. Currently actively blogging at “How not to be bored” and working hard at her first memoir, she also enjoys music, good food and good wine. But beyond anything else she is committed to her journey and where that road might lead her. 969278_779349972081496_435427090_n[1]

 

Jonathan Soroff, according to his twitter feed, is “a columnist, narcissist, braggart and one man mardi gras”.  For 20 years he has been the lead columnist at Improper Bostonian Magazine and has written for everyone from The Boston Herald to People to London’s Royal Academy Magazine.  He is the creator of It’sMyLifeGetYourOwn.com.  Jonathan Soroff’s first book ‘Crimes of Fashion’  (June 2013) is a brainy and catty romp through a fashion empire.

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Insulating myself today

sukey-bikeMost days I revel in nature. It has been a sanctuary and s safe haven for me all my life and most especially in the years since Charlotte died.
But for some reason starting early this morning when the morning Dove started to coo it disturbed me and bothered me to my core. I focused instead on man-made and more controllable sounds like the consistent and dull sound of the fan whirring on my bureau.

I lingered in bed for a while and wanted to Just feel the blankets wrapping around me. I wanted to be swaddled and covered and not exposed to the day.

I showered and afterwards when I toweled off I was Aware of my nakedness. The cool morning air on my skin bothered me. I rushed through putting on lotion and getting dressed when I usually linger in a state of being half clad enjoying that freedom.

I’m now about to head to town and buy myself a breakfast pastry and a coffee. I’m on an island where biking is a wonderful way to get around and I love taking my bicycle wherever I can and whenever. Town is very close. I’m resisting getting on the bicycle because I don’t want to feel that much a part of nature. My natural inclination is to get into the car, slam the doors and be insulated again from the world.

The desire to be insulated and protected from nature is a highly unusual state for me
I rented this cottage that has no air conditioning no heat and very minimalist furnishings. It has many windows with excellent cross breezes to cool it. It’s right near the ocean and I can hear the birds all of the sounds of the natural world and very few made by man. I did this deliberately and yet now I find this morning it is grating on me and all I want is to be swaddled and insulated from all of it.

Considering that this is the anniversary of Charlotte’s death I am sure it is completely related. Life and death and the cycles of life moving on are most abundantly clear in the natural world. While it has been a place of incredible healing for me I found out all too early and all too painfully about mother nature and how life can come to a complete halt very quickly and sometimes without explanation.

Swaddle me. Protect me. Comfort me. I am alone but I’m not lonely. I want to be swaddled and protected and yet I am glad that I am alone. I am comforted by myself and by the knowledge that I am deeply loved by many. But in these spots deep and reflective grief I find I am best served being alone. It recharges me and allows me then to get back to the business of life and living
I have not yet decided whether or not I will bicycle or drive into town.

The one part of nature that I seem to be able to embrace today is flow. I will just go with the flow and try to embrace that.

NANTUCKET, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES • 64° SUNNY
Created in Day One


Anniversary of Charlotte’s death–letter to friends

charlotte-tractorBelow is a copy of what I posted on Facebook on August 17,2013.  It was the day before the anniversary of my daughter Charlotte’s death which is a painful day, second only to her birthday, for me.

Nine years ago on August 18 I woke up to a crisp, sunny morning just like this. I got the children ready for camp but my middle child was not feeling well. I kept her home. Six hours and a trip to the emergency room later she had died From a high fever that was unexplained in its origin. Tomorrow is the anniversary of nine years from her death.

Grief is not linear–it moves in different directions on our emotional spectrum. The most obvious and easy of the emotions to access are sorrow and anger for me. At this moment I feel neither of those although I know they will come in cycles at some point in the next 24 hours. Right now I am back in the disbelief. The disbelief that my beautiful healthy young child basically vaporized nine years ago. Disbelief that it could’ve been happened to her, to our family, to me.

She was a beautiful girl and full of life. I’m sorry you did not meet her. On these days of extreme emotion I often find I am at a loss for words and mere feeling. Both will return in time.

Thank you to you, my friends and my family–close and acquaintance. Each of your presence in my life has made a difference. Each of you has made a difference by liking, commenting, sharing, responding or interacting to many of my posts over the last years and for sharing yours with me. Periodic glimpses into your world have made a big difference to me as has being able to share my experience with you–not just the sorrow but also the humor that has gotten me through. Many of your comments and feedback have influenced the pages of my book. It won’t be released for another year but it has been an enormously cathartic process in it’s writing for me. t’s a funny Facebook world out there. I am glad to be a part of it and I am thankful to have you a part of my facebook world.

Charlotte loved pink and had a great flair for her own sense of fashion. If you feel inspired to wear something pink today or tomorrow please do. And if you see somebody wearing pink on the street maybe have a thought about my sweet angel moving amongst us with her golden hair and green eyes paying a visit to us mere mortals.

Writer’s Retreat

I signed up to attend a Laura Munson Haven retreat after completing my first book (The Angel in My Pocket. Viking. Release July 2014). The process left me creatively and emotionally exhausted and I was looking for inspiration for my next writing project. The scenic setting on a quiet lake in Montana along with the small group of talented and thoughtful attendees made for an extraordinary learning experience.

Laura is a pro at teasing out the most essential elements of each of our works and voices. She encouraged gently but firmly and called us all to be our best all within a very comforting and secure environment

I left Haven brimming with ideas. My heart soul and mind were all better having attended a Haven writing retreat.

Laura gives deeply of herself to each of her retreat attendees. I feel honored to have spent four days in her care and my writing is much better for the experience