So I won an award. Well, my book, Undercover Heat, won an award. But I had a little something to do with it, so I’m gonna take at least a bit of credit.
Over the course of a long weekend in early October, I attended the InD’Scribe Conference in Burbank, California, which culminated with the awards ceremony and my one, glowing moment in the spotlight.
I’m not gonna lie; it was pretty cool.
I also learned a few things, and I figured I’d share them here, in case you find yourself in a similar situation, and in need of a bit of advice. So here we go…
- Shoes are important. Even if you don’t splurge on a ball gown (I didn’t), it’s entirely okay so long as you have a killer pair of red heels. And be sure to call them out on stage. Bonus points if someone special (like your husband) bought them for you.
- Wine is also important. And expensive, if you buy it at a hotel bar. I recommend finding the nearest liquor store and stowing a few (not mini) bottles in your hotel room. And then hide the wine glasses you stole from the hotel bar in the mini fridge, so the housekeeper doesn’t snag them.
- Sleep is important, especially when you’ve travelled through multiple time zones to get to the event. Take one evening off – just not the one of the awards ceremony.
- Impromptu speeches are sometimes the best speeches.
This was my first awards ceremony, but not my first conference. I went anticipating meeting new friends, learning new stuff, and generally expecting to have a good time. The awards ceremony wasn’t even on my radar until I was dressing in my little black dress and super sexy red heels. Even then, I felt like I was going to cheer on my friends as they won their awards.
When they announced my name, I was so shocked, everyone laughed at me. (That’s okay, I like it when people laugh.) When I stood in front of the microphone on that stage with three other gorgeous ladies wearing sparkly dresses and great shoes, blinded by a spotlight and realizing I now had to speak, it went something like this…
“Ohmigod, I can’t believe I’m up here! Is my lipstick okay?”
And then I went on to thank my editor, who had a huge hand in justifying the award for this book. The hero, Quinn, from Undercover Heat was a broken man at the beginning of the book, and after the first round of edits, my editor informed me that he hadn’t grown quite enough to satisfy her need for a happily ever after with two characters who have gone through hell and back to get to each other. It was one of the hardest edits I’ve gone through, which says something because my editor puts me through the wringer every damn time I give her another book.
After a bit of blood, sweat, tears, and a lot of wine, Quinn and Kyra morphed into what they are today–the hero and heroine from an award-winning book–and I give my editor ridiculous amounts of credit.
After profusely expressing that particular gratitude, I went on to thank… everyone. True confession: This event is put on by InD’Tale Magazine, but the conference is called the InD’Scribe. When I turned around to thank TJ, the founder of InD’Tale, I wasn’t sure whether to say “InD’Tale” or “InD’Scribe,” and I was standing in front of an audience with a spotlight in my face… So I panicked and said, “Thank you everyone,” and swept my arm to encompass the entire room. Crisis averted.
And then I ended my off-the-cuff speech with, “Lastly, I’d like to thank my husband for picking out these fabulous red heels.”
That’s right, the hubs got a little kudos, because yeah, he’s got good taste in shoes. A few years ago, we were on our way to who knows where, when I said, “Hey, let’s stop and look for shoes. I need a pair of sensible navy pumps.”
My husband heard, “shoe store.” And while I was off in the corner searching out the boring but necessary shoes, he headed off to the “fun” section. A few moments later, he walked up to me and said, “You should get these.”
I said, “But those aren’t navy. Or sensible.”
“Yeah, but they’re sexy.”
Hard to argue with that logic. So we bought the heels. And if I do say so myself, they go rather nicely with the Rone Award for my contemporary romance, Undercover Heat.
Happy New Release to MIRROR, MIRROR! This book has something of a convoluted history, which made this particular release day all that much sweeter.
I wrote this book several years ago as a result of an anthology call. The publisher was looking for novellas about urban legends. So I wrote a (funny) story about the Legend of Bloody Mary.
Two weeks after I sent it to the publisher, the acquiring editor reached out and asked me if I could turn it into a full length novel. I of course said yes! I then worked my butt off to add about 40k words before resubmitting.
And then I waited. And waited. And waited. Every few months they’d reach out, reassure me they were still reviewing, and to hang tight. So I did. This was a pretty successful publisher and I was convinced this book-with that publisher–could take my career to the next level.
A *year* later, they finally rejected it. That was last fall. Too late for me to get it edited, commission a cover, and release during the Halloween season, since there are definite Halloween undertones.
I love this book–the original, novella-length version–and after months of contemplation, I decided I still wanted it to be published. I was still convinced it was worthy of your reading eyes. I spent another couple months trying to decide whether to offer it to another publisher or to self-publish. Ultimately, I decided on the self-publishing route. That way, I knew I could control the release day and the price. I got to use my favorite editor and cover designer, too, both of whom did an amazing job (in my humble opinion).
So here we are, finally. MIRROR, MIRROR is available for the world to read. I hope it’s a thoroughly enjoyable few hours of your time. I’m so happy to introduce you to this book!!
We received my daughter’s school pictures today. It’s a day I’ve dreaded since March. Not literally because it was her sixth grade pic – for such an awkward age, I think she looks pretty darn cute, actually.
The school pics are proudly displayed in side-by-side, 8×10 inch silver frames. Each year when we receive new pics, I open the frames, look through those from years past and then add the new one to the front. Then I replace the frame in its place of honor, near the backdoor, which sees way more traffic than the front, so they get a lot more views that way.
This year, I have only one to update. My son’s seventh grade school picture is the last one we will ever have. It won’t change. He’s gone forever. My daughter’s pictures will update each year; she will grow and change, and he won’t.
When I placed her updated picture next to his, it didn’t look right. They were almost three years apart in age, two years apart in school. Now she looks only a year behind him. Next year it will be her seventh grade pic, then eighth. At some point, she will look older than he does. She will move on to high school. Senior pics. Graduation photos. College. Hopefully, a wedding photo, then family portraits with her own kids.
And all we’ll ever have of my son is his seventh grade school picture.
I’ve had this conversation with my dad, who asked what I thought he should do with the photos in his own home. My husband and I have also had this conversation. None of us had an answer.
And now the day has arrived, and I need to make a decision, for my own state of mind. I looked through his school pics, thinking maybe I’d just replace the seventh grade one with an older one, one from elementary school, when he still had that utterly adorable baby face, when we could not in a million years have imagined let alone predicted his life would be cut short at thirteen.
It still didn’t feel right.
And then I thought about the plethora of baby pics. You know how it is in the first few years. You take a million pictures and save every one. I found an 8×10 from when he had just turned four, and my daughter had passed her first birthday only a few months prior. One of my favorites. Possibly the favorite.
I slid it into the frame in front of the school pics and replaced it on the shelf. And you know what? It works.
Since March, I have consistently referred to my life as “our new normal.” We were forced to learn to live in a world without my son in it. We abruptly changed from a family of four to a family of three. To having a son and daughter to only a daughter. My daughter went from being the youngest to the only child. From hiding in her brother’s shadow to being thrust into the spotlight. The center of attention; a position she had mostly attempted to avoid for the first ten years of her life.
So much has changed. We had to figure out babysitting for the summer. We decided to move her to a different school, in an attempt to shield her from students who knew my son and for no other reason other than curiosity would want her to relive that day, that period of her life. The catalyst to all this change.
The house stays cleaner, the laundry piles less. Our grocery bill is smaller. Our snack drawer is leaner. Our go-to meals have changed, as my daughter isn’t as big a fan of homemade tacos and Frito pie as her brother was. There’s no more arguing over pizza night. It’s Hawaiian, end of story. Unless you want to add boneless wings.
On the weekends, I now have the house to myself (well, the dog and I) for hours and hours in the mornings, whereas Brady, like me, was an early riser.
The sounds of bickering are rare in our house these days. There is no clamoring for the front seat anymore. Car trips are easy. Airplane trips are financially feasible. Choosing a restaurant, no debate. Family time is pretty much whatever my daughter wants it to be.
It’s so different from five months ago, yet it’s now… normal.
Today, someone else pointed out her normal. Her son has seizures. They never know when they’re coming or how severe they’ll be. They leave her son exhausted and her emotionally drained. “But it is part of our normal and we are trying hard to go about that normal,” she told me.
And then I thought about another friend whose son has a severe peanut allergy. It’s “normal” for him to read food labels, everywhere, no matter what or where he is. He’s eleven.
Then there’s the friend who is in her twenties, whose mother was her best friend, and she recently lost that best friend to cancer. Her new normal is living without her best friend—and growing her relationship with her dad.
One of my daughter’s friends is being raised by her grandparents. If you ask her, her life is pretty darn “normal.”
Another friend has MS, was diagnosed only a few years ago. When the disease wears her out, she gets annoyed, but otherwise, life is just… normal.
Just like the rest of us. Sort of skews your definition of the word, doesn’t it?
It took me a few moments to realize why I was crying on the second day of school. Who cries on the second day of middle school? Hell, most parents don’t cry on the first. Kindergarten, yes. But middle school?
Unfortunately, this situation is anything but normal.
You see, on March 15, 2016, the last time I would ever speak to my son while he was alive, I drove him to school. Middle school. We were in a rush, because he had to be there by 7:15 for jazz band practice, and I was running behind. I pulled up in front of the school and slid the gear into park and said, “Don’t forget to turn in your math homework.”
“Have a good day. I love you.”
“Love you, too. Bye.”
It was our final goodbye, although I didn’t know it at the time. I cannot tell you how many times since that day I have felt grateful that we weren’t sniping at each other; that I wasn’t upset about something he’d said or done, that he wasn’t mad at me for some parenting thing or another. It had been a normal day, like any other. Until it wasn’t.
Fast-forward five months to today, and we’re rushing to get out the door (largely because my daughter is not and never has been a morning person, one aspect that is 180 degrees different from her brother). As we’re driving down the road, heading to school, she is rearranging the supplies in her backpack while I’m trying to coax her into eating the Pop-Tarts she snagged on the way out the door. I know her; if she doesn’t eat she gets hangry, and they don’t do mid-morning snacks in middle school.
And then we’re at the school, and I’ve pulled up in front and dropped the gear into park. “Have a great day,” I say. “I love you. See you after work.”
“Love you, too. Bye.”
And she’s off, heading toward the building, determined to get to her first class on time. I shift the car into drive and cruise through the parking lot toward the road, and I’m waiting for traffic to clear so I can turn, when the tears start. “Why am I crying?” I say out loud as I dig a tissue out of the console.
That’s when the memory of that day in March hits me.
Other than the first day of school every year, I’ve never driven my daughter to school. She has always taken the bus. I didn’t start driving my son to school until halfway through seventh grade, just a few months before it all ended. He didn’t like his bus driver, and I literally drove past his school every day, so it wasn’t an inconvenience, other than his school started a bit later, so he usually had to wait outside the doors until they would let the students in, because I had to get to work. He insisted he didn’t mind.
Now, my daughter is in a new school, and while it is slightly out of my way to drop her off before heading to work, it’s only a mile or so, and her school starts early, so it works out to be exactly when I would leave for work anyway.
So I get to relive that horrible day in March, every school day, for the foreseeable future. I haven’t told my daughter this, and I don’t plan to (luckily, she doesn’t read my blogs). She doesn’t like it when I cry, so I do my best to hide it from her. My therapist says I shouldn’t, that I should show her it’s okay to cry. But I don’t, because I know how she feels. I hate it when my parents are sad, too. She’s an empathetic girl, almost too much so, and I know my pain causes her pain. Since it’s a pain that will never go away no matter what I do, I see no point in drawing attention to it.
Instead, I’ll tell her I love her every day. And I will strive to never, ever be upset with her when I drop her off for school in the morning.
And I’ll make sure the middle console in my car is stocked with tissues.
When my children started kindergarten, the principal of their elementary school hosted an event called “Tea and Tissues.” Each year on the first day of school, parents of kindergarteners dropped their kids in their classroom and then made their way to the library, where the principal had coffee and tea and cookies and tiny packages of tissues waiting. She would greet the parents, joke about how hard the first day of school was, and reassure us she would take excellent care of our babies. She then read a book to us, something along the lines of parents letting their children fly free, I think, and then she sent us on our merry way, tears dried, emotions in check, comfortable in the knowledge that even though they were now in someone else’s care, they would be fine, likely blossom even.
I wish middle school had “Tea and Tissues.”
Today is the day. Monday, August 22, 2016. My daughter’s first day of school. First day of middle school. First day at a new school, in a new school system. First time she’s gone back to school before Labor Day. First time she’s gone back… alone. As the only one. First time she’s been the first to experience something.
That’s a lot of firsts. And I’m a hot mess because of it.
Will she like her new school? Will the other kids like her? Will she make new friends? Will she find her classrooms? Will someone help her figure things out? Will she remember she has lunch money in her backpack? Is her uniform correct? Did we buy the right shoes? The right supplies? Did will complete the mounds of paperwork correctly?
Will any of these kids, these new classmates know what happened back in March? Will they remind her, ask her about it? This is what we are trying to avoid by sending her to a new school.
Almost as bad, though, will they have no idea and say unintentionally hurtful things, about suicide, brothers, life?
I dropped her off this morning, both of us nervous, but her fairing much better than me. After she waved and walked into the gym to join her classmates for the first assembly of the year, I walked out to my car and sat in the parking lot and cried. Luckily, I’d parked far out, so there wasn’t much foot traffic, many people to give me curious looks. Although few of these people know me yet, so perhaps they assumed my child was a kindergartener, and I was sending her off to school for the first time ever.
Now I’m back home, and it’s time to start the workday. There is nothing I can do for the next seven hours except worry. And wait. I won’t know anything until two-thirty this afternoon, when I pick her up from her first day of middle school.
I think I need some tea. And more tissues.
Here’s the skinny. I wrote another book. I know, I know, not shocking in the least. I’ve got three of them releasing in September alone. What’s special about this one, you ask?
Let me tell you.
It reads pretty much contemporary but there are some… curious elements that make it enjoyable for paranormal fans, too. It’s a friends to lovers romance with a heavy dose of funny.
The heroine, Adelle, and the hero, Ben, have been buddies for ten years, and for the last four, they’ve lived in the same house. Totally platonic, for reasons from their individual pasts:
Like her, Ben also had a fear of relationships, although for very different reasons. She’d sworn off relationships after being jilted in the most humiliating way possible; he’d sworn off them after his parents divorced, got back together, divorced again, got back together, divorced again, and the last she’d heard, his mother was shacking up with his uncle and his dad was in Vegas chasing a showgirl. Ben wasn’t entirely sure the showgirl was actually a girl.
There’s a secondary character named Vivienne who may just steal the show. Here’s a tidbit from the book. This is the first time Adelle, the heroine, meets Vivienne:
The inside of the tent was bare save for piles of silken material strewn on the floor and an elderly woman who sat in a throne-like chair, a small round table before her. A squat, grinning jack-o-lantern and a fat red candle with a bright, tall flame were perched on the table. The candle and the carved pumpkin were the only lights in the tent, but they clearly illuminated the woman who sat behind them.
The woman who, by Adelle’s judgment, looked to be approximately a thousand years old. Her face was heavily lined, her cheeks sagged, her nose was crooked. She wore a brightly colored scarf on her head, wispy gray hairs sticking out from under the silky material. Her body was covered with the same type of peasant shirt and billowing skirt that Adelle wore, except it was uncomfortably obvious she wasn’t wearing a cleavage-enhancing bra, because her breasts hung somewhere in the vicinity of her knees.
“Quit staring at me, girl. You’ll look like this someday, too, if you’re lucky.”
“Lucky,” the woman said, as if Adelle had repeated the word out loud. “You wanna know how many hunks I had in my day? There’s a reason I look so worn out.” She cackled loudly as she smacked the top of the table, shaking the jack-o-lantern and causing the candle flame to shimmer.
Vivienne, much to Adelle’s frustration, seems to think Ben and Adelle should be more than friends, although her delivery of such news is a tad… unconventional:
“You’re an even bigger idiot than I thought, if you’re sleeping in the same house night after night and not tapping that hunk o’ man.” The woman leaped out of her chair and did a creepy sort of gyration that sent her loose skin to flapping.
Adelle’s eyes widened. The last time she’d seen something this horrifying had been when Ben’s mother had climbed onto the dining room table and attempted a strip tease with the Thanksgiving turkey parked between her feet, a drunken retaliation to his father having informed her he wasn’t sure if he liked women anymore, specifically her.
Vivienne also likes to give, er, dating advice:
“It doesn’t have to be all about sex, you know.”
“Sure it does. You already have everything else with him. He’s your best friend, your roommate, and he’s hotter than the area between my thighs—what? Don’t tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about. Surely you’ve gotten all hot and bothered … no, wait, you probably haven’t. Otherwise, I cannot imagine why you have not yet figured out a way to convince that man to clean out your cobwebs with his womb broom.”
“You are the most depraved woman I have ever met.”
“I’m the most right woman you have ever met,” Vivienne corrected. “I would bet you my mirror that once you finally cream that boy’s Twinkie, you won’t let him up for air for a nice long time. You’ll probably get fired from your job because you’ll still have your thighs wrapped around his waist and will be refusing to let go.”
Yeah, sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Well guess what? It’s scheduled for release on September 28, but I’ve decided this book is way too much fun to wait so long to read. So I’m giving it away free, before it releases.
Just go here: https://www.instafreebie.com/free/4pU5U to claim your copy (epub or mobi).
And when you’re done, go here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31375778-mirror-mirror?ac=1&from_search=true – and let me know what you thought. That’s all there is to it.
Thank you and enjoy the read!
When I miss him most…
When I can’t figure out something on my phone. Or my laptop. Or any computer or other electronic device.
When I see a group of teenage boys walking down the street, especially when they are laughing and appear happy with life.
When I see a good-looking blond man. Would he have turned out so handsome?
When I stalk his Instagram account (which I left open partially because I couldn’t figure out how to shut it down and partially because it seems to be therapeutic for his friends to go there and post comments). When I see all the comments from people whose lives he touched, in a positive way. When they talk about how much he made them laugh. When I see comments from his girlfriend, and realize how much she still misses him. Would they still be together, if he was still here?
When we get together with the family. Everybody had an even-numbered core family, two kids each; and we’ve now thrown off the numbers.
When one of the grandparents says, “My six, er, five grandkids.”
When my daughter tells funny stories about her brother. Because that’s how she copes.
When I catch a glimpse of the closed door at the end of the hall. I haven’t stepped foot into his bedroom in so long at this point, I almost can’t remember what it looks like. Almost.
When I think about his birthday, which is in October. How will I feel on that day? What will we do? Will we acknowledge it? Will I go into work? Will I be able to handle it?
When I think about Thanksgiving. What exactly am I supposed to be thankful for this year?
When I think about Christmas. Will we change our traditions this year, in an attempt to make it easier on ourselves? I loved the traditions we had established, but I can’t imagine doing them with our new, smaller family, yet at the same time, I hate to give them up.
When I think about school starting again. My daughter will be in middle school. Thankfully, at a different school, but still, in that world, that horrible time in a person’s life when you don’t feel like a kid or an adult. That time in his life during which my son decided to end his own life.
When I think about my daughter hitting those teen angst years. Let’s face it, there’s only a slim chance she won’t be a moody, grumpy, unhappy teenager, at least for a few years. How the hell am I supposed to go through that without fearing every moment of every day that she will choose the same path her brother did?
When certain songs come on the radio. There’s a list of songs I have always loved, yet now cannot bear to listen to, which I hate, because I love these songs. Every Rose Has It’s Thorn by Poison. Something To Believe In by Poison. (Although to be fair, can anyone listen to that song without crying?) Don’t Close Your Eyes by Kix. Crow and Butterfly by Shinedown. November Rain by Guns and Roses. The Dance by Garth Brooks.
True confession: I’m not sure I’d choose to do this dance again if I knew this would be the outcome. Actually, I’m really quite sure, and the answer is a resounding no. Same goes for loving and losing instead of never loving at all. Give me never loving at all. It hurts far less. Maybe, someday, that attitude will change, but right now, that’s how I feel. I hate it, every minute of every day, this pain, this emptiness, the helplessness I feel when, for a brief moment, I almost forget he’s gone and think I’m about to arrive home and see him again. And then I realize I won’t.
He’s never coming back. He’s never getting older. He’s never graduating, never going to college, never getting married, never giving me grandbabies. Never having a first drink with me. Never sitting around the campfire again, not as a kid or an adult, joking and laughing and teasing with the rest of the family. Never becoming an expert at euchre. Never discovering what he wants to do with the rest of his life. Never growing any taller—would he have hit six feet? Would he have surpassed it?
My daughter’s future kids (the ones she currently claims she doesn’t want) will never meet their Uncle Brady. They may not ever even utter the words, “Uncle Brady.” No kids will call her Aunt Reagan. (Okay, that’s not entirely true. In my family, close friends are aunts and uncles, so she’ll have that, at least.)
When do I miss him most? All the damn time.
On Saturday July second we lay my son’s ashes to rest in a lovely cemetery that was designed to feel more like a park than a, well, cemetery. There were several reasons we chose to wait almost four months after his death to do it, although the specific choice of date was both devastating and oddly appropriate.
You see, he loved Independence Day. It was his favorite holiday. It was the fireworks; the thrill, the excitement, the anticipation of what would come next. And he especially loved lighting off his own fireworks, much to his mother’s chagrin.
My dad helped feed his obsession. Each year, he traveled from Louisiana to Michigan to spend the summer with us, and he always made a pit stop in Indiana, where they sold fireworks far more awesome than anything we could buy in Michigan. Brady used to anticipate his arrival with all the excitement of a five year old being offered a double-scoop ice cream cone.
This year, my dad didn’t make that pit stop.
Instead, we buried my son on his favorite holiday weekend. It was, frankly, a terrible day, despite the fact it was a lovely, gorgeous, sunny, not-too-hot day. Reliving the grief all over again when we hadn’t truly recovered from the first time was not high on my to do list. But we did it, because we had to. Humans and our rituals. Somehow, someway, they help guide us toward peace.
There were only a few of us; mine and my husband’s parents, our siblings, Brady’s sister and his cousins, plus his Godfather and another dear friend. His girlfriend and her parents attended too. I hope this provides her some sort of closure, so she can learn to live again. I hate that her first boyfriend did this, I hate that this has scarred her for life.
Our priest said a few words, tried to help us find peace by reassuring us Brady’s in heaven now, and we can visit this place, this symbol of him, anytime we want. (Well, during cemetery visiting hours, anyway…)
And then the cemetery personnel removed the covering from the hole in the ground and asked my husband and I if we wanted to lower the box of ashes. We both said no, then I changed my mind and, kneeling carefully as I was wearing a short skirt, picked up what remained of my son and placed the box in the hole. I didn’t want to get up, didn’t want to let go, but someone grasped my arm and lifted me into a standing position and I walked away, into my sister-in-law’s arms, where we squished my poor daughter between us, while everyone took turns tossing a shovelful of dirt into the hole. One of the groundskeepers offered me a rock they’d found while preparing the site for us and I snatched it up, desperate for anything to tie me to my son.
After that a couple people spoke; one of my brothers read a memorial my stepdad had written; my mother-in-law showed everyone this lovely decorated rock a friend had made for her so that she could carry Brady’s memory with her when she went to Hawaii for her fiftieth wedding anniversary. The priest said his goodbyes, and those who had delayed their vacation plans for this event gradually began to leave. The younger cousins picked wild flowers and scattered them on the grave. Somebody found a heart-shaped rock and placed it next to Brady’s headstone. Those who were left made their way to a nearby restaurant situated on a lake, and we sat and drank and ate and admired the view and enjoyed the friendship, letting the grief ebb away for a little while.
Later that afternoon, we were left alone, my new smaller family of three. My daughter retreated into a book, my husband and I took the dog for a walk. It was a quiet, sad day with no excitement, no fireworks.
On Sunday we loaded up our supplies and headed to the beach. Just us and a couple friends. The adults parked our chairs in the water and kept our coolers nearby, while 80s and 90s music played from my husband’s iTunes playlist. We grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and ate watermelon and stayed until the sun dipped low in the sky.
After putting everything away and showering, the melancholy hit me again. I’m told this will happen on every major holiday or milestone during the first year after his death.
I went outside, lured by the sounds of firecrackers popping and exploding. While everyone else celebrated our freedom, I sat on my front porch and cried, mourning the loss of my son. And, to be honest, I felt a tiny bit of relief that my daughter hadn’t asked about fireworks. I had no desire to see them or buy them or light them off. I wanted to skip over this holiday that, once upon a time used to bring my family joy.
And then my daughter came outside and stood next to me on the porch. Somewhere to the west, a cluster of fireworks exploded high enough that we could see over the tops of the trees. “I want to light off fireworks tomorrow,” she said. “Can we, please?”
Inside I cringed. You see, while Independence Day was Brady’s favorite holiday, it was actually something I had begun to dread, right about the time he was ten or eleven, and discovered the thrill and excitement of lighting them off himself. And now my daughter was asking to do the same thing. It made me doubly anxious because of course my fear for her safety, but now my concern that she was only interested because in her mind, this was a way to keep her brother’s memory alive. She’s been doing that a lot lately, deciding to try new things because Brady used to do them. Fishing and hunting with her dad, mowing the lawn, and now shooting off fireworks.
“I have some left from when Grandpa came up at Christmas,” she said. “Can I show you?” I acquiesced and she rushed inside, returning a moment later with a small box containing poppers and smoke bombs and something called “Poopy Puppy.” Small, fairly harmless versions of fireworks.
“Can we light them off? Please? It’s only a few.”
So we lit off her small cache of fireworks in the driveway, with the bigger explosions in the sky behind us, and I became caught up in her joy, her excitement, the thrill of the moment. I remembered that she is still alive, very much so, and I should enjoy these precious moments. And somewhere along the way, my heart grew a little less heavy, and an emotional weekend managed to end on a high note.
As it should.
Tami Lund is an author, a wine drinker, a writer of happily ever afters. She also writes blog posts about her life because it helps, it really does.