The paperback version of The Angel in My Pocket launched today. I’m thrilled. Writing the book involved digging back in to places that I had worked very hard to process and find a sense of understanding and comfort. It was difficult in the extreme. But sharing The Angel in My Pocket and learning of the reader reaction has been healing and cathartic on levels I had never anticipated. Thank you friends, family, readers, publishers, publicists, reviewers all for giving this book such a welcome to the resources available on grief. I’m touched and proud that this story has been so well received. Just as I had needed it on my nightstand 11 years ago, it seems others have as well.
AND YET, and yet, and YET…. On July 3, 2014, the day of the hardcover launch and now this morning, May 19, 2015, I am unglued.
It is a vulnerable place putting oneself out in memoir. It is a sharing of the deepest recesses of one’s soul and the honesty that the page required was not always easy to deliver. You, dear reader, know more about me than many lifetime relationships have ever known. Many dear friends and family members reported to me after reading The Angel in My Pocket that they had learned much about me in the reading of the book. I don’t tend to lead with vulnerable. Even when we believe we are open we tend to hold back. But not on the page. Not if we want to share the whole story as we experienced it.
But today I am undone. Today the tears won’t stop and I’m back ‘in this sweet madness, oh this glorious sadness, it brings me to my knees’ (Sarah McLachlan). Though it brings me joy to have The Angel in My Pocket impacting many others on their journey, today, privately, I am feeling the ache of loss and letting go fresh.
It never does go away. Nor do we really want it to. The lessons we learn and the growing take the space of much of the sorrow but the wounds are always there.
The celebration of the success of the book is also a reminder that without the death of my daughter at the age of six my story would have been very different. Much as I am proud of my path and much as I have grown in every way imaginable from the loss, the grief, and the finding the way back to life, at the end of the day I just wish I had my daughter Charlotte and not an angel.
Here is what I didn’t expect from publication of my story. Readers rather early on responded to the part of the book that is actually about living. It was written as a lookback from a place that I had found back in the land of fully embracing and loving life. It was written as an example of the transformative power of grief. There was so much guilt and shame in allowing myself permission to decide to live despite this gutting loss. It turns out many of us have want to give ourselves permission to be ok one day. After all that suffering don’t we deserve to survive and thrive? Don’t we? Don’t you?