As the parents of twin boys, my husband and I have tried to instill in our children the difference between right and wrong, while fine-tuning the delicate balance between holding their hands and encouraging them to fly.
Thank you to Therafit Shoes for inviting me to guest blog: Yesterday we dismantled a life. My siblings and I gathered together at my late mother's home to sift through her belongings. Seventy-four years of stuff cramped the walls and drawers. When I walked into her closet, I expected to find rows of blouses and bottoms, but the hangers were bare, our sister having already generously given away the clothes to the nurses who cared for Mom in her final weeks. The floor, however, was covered in shoes.
Last night we had a pre-Valentine’s dinner with two other couples. It was the perfect setting: a local Italian restaurant, good food, good friends, and a few bottles of wine. Why did we celebrate the night before? I’ll tell you. I’m. Not. Fun.
I’m a woman and stereotypes say that I should love seasons with names like Spring, Summer, and Fall. Football I tell you. Football is my favorite season. Tonight’s game in New Orleans marks the beginning of a new NFL Champion and the end to my favored season. Admittedly, I dab at my eyes when ESPN plays their highlight reel with all the season’s biggest plays: the huge upsets, the triumphs, the passion, and raw emotion.
Today I took my thirteen-year-old son to the orthodontist. This particular office is the hub for thousands of neighborhood kids caught in the trappings of orthodontia. The waiting area is teeming with parents and teens; the office is an assembly line of open mouths and flailing arms. Surveying the room, I was struck by this: every person—adult or child—was on his or her phone. I observed this for a solid fifteen minutes anticipating some interaction. There was none. Now that modern technology has made having a cell phone the equivalent to a portable computer, it is no wonder these devices have become extensions of our limbs.
The year is coming to a close. For my family, it has been a time of great highs and great lows. 2012 brought life to my first novel (February 15), our twin sons became B’nai Mitzvah (December 8), and death befell my beloved mother (December 10). For me, this whole year came down to these pivotal dates.
One of the questions I’m most often asked at a book signing is how much of What We Leave Behind is based on my real life experiences. The answer is this: I write what I know. Beginning with an idea, I embellish, tweak, and toss it around. There it simmers. The meat—memories and experiences—are the heart, and the fictional elements season and flavor.
This was a tough week. My mother is very ill. She has pancreatic cancer (15 months in) and although statistically she is already a survivor, the grim reality is startling at times. When someone you love is sick, the balancing act is tested and whiplash sets in when you are forced to “live your life” because you don’t have the luxury of hiding under the covers when young children and responsibilities loom.
Last night I had the privilege of joining a local book club celebrating their 38th year together. These women had a complete list of books they had read over the course of marriage, birth, careers, divorce, illness, loss, grandchildren, celebration, hurt, happiness, and laughter. The books were challenging, literary works. I was humbled to be amongst an expansive list of such impressive authors. One of the ladies whispered to me, “It’s all about relationships, coming together and coming apart, being touched and feeling something. That’s the essence of living. That’s why we read.”