and then there were two

i couldn't sleep early, early this morning, so i walked from bed to bed just to watch my sons dream.  i perched there, on the edge of their bedspreads and crinkled sheets, imagining them transforming before my eyes: fourth grade, sixth grade, ninth grade, senior...gone.

the hole in my heart at that moment felt large enough to swallow itself whole, jagged edges slicing the beating flesh the whole way down its never-ending throat.

i thought, this is how my mom must have felt when i went off to college, and when she lost a little bit of herself and never quite recovered.

of course, she drove to see me whenever i needed anything, and we talked at least five times per day and i went home often, stayed there five weeks during winter break, all summer every summer, and moved home (well, to an apartment near home) upon graduation.

i realized how it didn't matter how old i got, i still needed my parents. 

they're who i call when i have a question. important questions like: how long should i put the meatloaf in the oven, or not so important questions like: what's the weather supposed to be like tomorrow?  (because calling my dad is way more time efficient than turning on the news or checking my phone for that information).

in the weeks after my mom died i laughed with my cousin (not so much ha ha laugh as much as i'm dying somewhere inside my chest laugh) about how we need to create an AskMom app, because there are just so many questions to ask a mom like: how much money should i put in this wedding card, mom? or what are the kids supposed to wear to this event, mom? or what does grandma need for her birthday this year, mom? or who's having Easter this year, mom and am i supposed to bring anything, and will you call her and tell her for me? or my son has a fever, mom, so i should call nurse direct and call you right back? or who do you want to win on the bachelorette, mom?

my uncle's mom died this past weekend and i went to the funeral, though it was at the same church my mom's funeral was not three months ago, and i realized that whether you're 38 or 60, you'll miss your mom when she dies, because a mom is a mom, and you are always her child.  my uncle's dad passed away a few years ago, too, so now he's parentless.  alone in the world.

it's just me and my dad now, no brothers and sisters.

and then there were two.

one of the grief booklets my dad got from the hospital or nursing home said something about how losing your mom is like losing a little bit of your identity, and that is true.  because she knows me like no other. she's the one with all the stories about when she was pregnant with me, when i was born, my first steps, my first words, she knows i liked bananas when i was little (noooo waaay! gross!) and remembers the stories about me in kindergarten.  she remembers way too much about my middle and high school years that I've forgotten (probably for good reason) yet she held onto it all.  she's the only one to call me by my middle name and the only one i could tell when i was humiliated, or could gossip to about someone who really, really pissed me off without feeling like i was committing this huge sin or worried that what i said would be passed all around town and get me into trouble.

so when she died, i lost it all.

anyways, all this went through that horrible, terrible throat of my heart that swallowed itself when i realized that i might be like my mom was when my kids grow up and leave the house. i might need to prepare for that so that i don't lose myself completely and so that i can be around throughout their college lives and after to still be that mom they need.  so that i can be there for their kids, and watch them make their first communions and attend their weddings and babysit for them and live to be 90+ like my grandma.

once a mom always a mom.  i need to remember that while watching my little ones grow up overnight.


my summer reading list...so far. what else do you recommend?

my reward for finishing my spring grad class was

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i devoured it.  for me, it was a cross between two of my previous favorite novels: shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and Sophie and Carter by Chelsea Fine. it was real.  simple.  as a writer it helped me to focus my next story on the two main characters without overcomplicating my writing with details.  granted, elanor and park had a cast of well-developed side characters, but the narration was so simple and full of direction.  definitely a great pick for my first summer read, and the kick off to a summer of writing.

two other novels i read this summer were written by friends and are posted for you to enjoy at Swoon Reads.  you should definitely check them out and when you find how much you love them, rate with hearts.  you can also leave feedback for the authors in the comments section.  they'd really appreciated it.  if you choose to do so, you have until the end of the month to make your votes count.

Book Cover
click to read!
Five clues. Four teams. Three hours. Two winners. One kiss.
Olive never thought her crush on Ethan would end like this!
As a thank you, popular rich-girl Jewel invites Olive to one of her exclusive parties. Only this isn’t an ordinary party: it’s a nighttime scavenger hunt.
Cryptic clues, ridiculous riddles, shared selfies, dangerous dares–no one has ever played a game quite like this before. Each winner receives an amazing cash prize–money Olive desperately needs to pay for her coveted college entrance audition.
When Jewel assigns teams, to Olive’s delight (and horror), she’s paired with Ethan, the irresistible boy she’s been secretly crushing on for five years.
More comfortable with books and academia than boys and adventure, can Olive win the hunt and Ethan’s heart?

Book Cover
click to read!
Dorothy’s on vacation in Hawaii with her family. Arash is there for a high school band competition. When they meet on the streets of Waikiki they only have 12 hours to discover each other and the beautiful beach city of Waikiki at night. But Arash says he knows a way that’s guaranteed to make them fall in love. In 12 hours they’ll know if he’s right. All they have to do is answer 36 questions.
If you’re looking for a heartwarming story about falling in love; if you’re curious whether 36 questions and their corresponding answers really can lead to love; if you adore the little moments that lead up to love, then “12 Hours in Paradise” is a story you won’t soon forget.

of course my next read will be fangirl by rainbow rowell, and after that i'll read the heir by kiera cass.  what else do you recommend i add to my summer reading list?


it's so hard to believe

im sitting here, thinking i am free to begin writing again. school is out for the summer, and while i still have a classroom to pack up, my nights are free to read and write.  but as i place my fingers on the keyboard, my heart expands, filled with the pain of grief, and reminds me that my mom is gone and i've never started a novel without her being alive across town before.

i realized how many of my novels deal with parent-child relationships, and i always wondered how to paint the mom for the readers--for my mom if she ever read it.

now she won't.

my mom died this past march at the age of 64.  im 38 and i'm not ready to not have my mom. my kids are 9,7, and 3.  she was supposed to watch them make their first communions, graduate, get married.  i don't remember my grandpa that died when i was 2. 

now they won't remember her. and she loves them so so much.

i've started at least fifty blog posts in my mind these past two months.  i wish i'd actually written them.  my dad started seeing a counselor, and talks to dozens of people at church every morning, so he's spilling his guts numerous times per day.  im not a talker. 

but i am supposedly a writer. 

maybe writing would have helped to release the pent up grief i stuffed away to finish the school year, preparing 25 first graders to become second graders, to be an ear for my dad who can't stand his evenings in an empty house, to swallow my pride when the principal at my school told me she hasn't been able to keep up with me these past few months.

has everyone forgotten that i lost my mom?  it's only been two months.  i haven't even let myself believe it's real yet. i know it's real, but knowing is different than believing.

im wondering how long i can go on thinking that maybe she'll call or stop over.  that maybe it's not really forever.

the other day my three-year-old visited my dad and asked where nana was.  "is she still dead?" he asked.  exactly, i thought.  that's exactly it.  i made it two months.  i made it.  i'm ready for this test or whatever it is to be over now. i mean, i can't possibly live like this for the next 40 years of my life.  i can't be expected to. it's so horrible. it's so painful.

a few weeks ago my husband asked me what was wrong when he saw tears dripping down my cheeks.  what's wrong?  really?  i yelled, "how would you feel if you could never see or speak to your mother again?  starting right now, what if she just up and vanished from the face of the earth?  what if you went to her house and found her purse sitting at the end of the bed, her blue watch next to the Kleenex box in the bathroom, her flip flops on the floor next to the curio cabinet and two closets filled with her clothes--but she was nowhere to be found?"

the last memory i have of my mom is when i carried a box filled with what used to be her body to a small, hollowed out rectangular prism and then slid her inside before the cemetery man locked her inside until Jesus returns.

that's what's wrong.

so instead of typing away at a new novel, im writing this.

maybe it will help.