The Ups and Downs of the Holidays (and Life)

Sometimes I scroll through my own Facebook page, as I’m sure many (Someone? Anyone? Bueller?) of you do. And each time, I think, holy shit, my friends must think that therapy I’ve been going to on the reg for heading toward three years now isn’t helping much.

Because my Facebook page sure does seem… quirky. Here’s a sampling:

Funny post.

Funny post.

Post with a bunch of pics from some family thing.

Funny post.

Depressed post.

Funny post.

Depressed post.

Post with family pics.

Funny post.

Funny post.

Etc.

Seriously, *I* sometimes wonder if I’m possibly bipolar when I look at my own page. And I am not in any way, shape, or form minimizing individuals who truly live this disorder. Here’s one definition of bipolar struggles:

“Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

There are four basic types of bipolar disorder; all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, “down,” or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.”

(taken from the National Institute of Mental Health website: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml)

For the record, this is a very serious disorder that can be managed with proper care and a hell of a lot of work on the diagnosed individual’s part. It is something people struggle with on a daily, sometimes minutely basis, and it is not to be taken lightly.

While my blog post will contain attempts at humor (because that’s how I deal with life’s challenges), that is exactly what it is: my attempts at dealing with the challenges that have turned my life upside down and sideways and backwards and perhaps you (hopefully) understand why I jest??

Okay, so let’s get back to my train of thought before I lose it….

Here’s what happened. I dragged those bins up from the basement. You know the ones. The ones that contain The Christmas Stuff.

Yeah, those bins.

Ornaments. Decorations. Stockings.

Memories.

Memories.

Memories.

Hang on – I need to go sob and then blow my nose; I’ll be back in a minute….

Okay, anyway, for those who have recently discovered the Tami Lund Show, back in 2016, my life, which was pretty steady and unencumbered by any real craziness, took a turn. Like a sharp, jarring, unexpected fork in the road turn.

Have you ever experienced that while in the car? Like, you’re driving along, daydreaming, doing all the right things (using your blinker, NOT succumbing to that ‘zipper’ bullshit, not being an asshole and cutting people off…), and all of a sudden the one-lane road you’re on just, well, ends.

Literally.

And you slam on the brakes and stare at the DEAD END sign and you think, What the fuck do I do now?

Yeah, that’s it. That’s what happened to my life on March 15, 2016.

That’s when my son died.

Just to put this blog post in perspective.

 

Anyway…

 

So back to the whole up and down issue. That’s exactly what happens when you experience grief. When someone close to you dies.

God forbid, your child. (If I could eliminate this club all together, that would be my greatest wish in the world. Fuck world peace; just don’t let any children die. And yeah, I get that this will also literally create world peace.)

One of your parents.

Your spouse.

Your sibling.

Your best friend. (Nope, sorry, you can’t go first…)

Anyone to whom you have an emotional attachment.

Anyone. It really doesn’t matter if they are blood related or a pet; if you are emotionally vested in that individual’s life, you will experience grief if they die before you do. That’s how it works.

And grief SUCKS.

Sorry, let me make that more clear:

S.U.C.K.S.

Grief. Sucks.

It’s the worst part of being human.

Not joking here.

It’s taking that DEAD END and turning it into a human being. (Or your pet, because I get it, peeps, I do. The dog who had been part of our family since almost exactly one year prior to my son’s birth went over that Rainbow Bridge only a few months before my son left us for that next world. I. Get. It.)

And here’s the part of grief they don’t tell you about (actually, they do, but when you’re in the throes, you can’t even imagine…): You carry on.

Life doesn’t give a flying fuck what you’re going through.

Blizzard. Hurricane. Tornado. Wild Fire.

Unexpected death.

Life carries on.

And if you’re part of it, you will too.

It sucks SO HARD in the beginning. I mean, you will want to curl up in a ball and just cry away the pain.

Or, more accurately, BRING THEM BACK.

But that’s not how life works.

Yes, yes, life is an asshole – let’s make that perfectly clear right now.

Life doesn’t give a shit.

You are the only one who can give a big enough shit to actually carry on through all the horrible, terrible, absolutely outrageous pain and heartache that you will be forced to endure.

Bonus that it wasn’t even of your own doing. It just happened to you. Not your choice.

And yet, now you get to figure out how to…deal.

So how does that happen, exactly?

Well, first off, there is no exact recipe.

Yeah, for you control freaks (like myself), get ready. This is a roller coaster that is not only about to derail, but it’s going to shoot you into the fucking stars and just when you think it’s all peaceful and shit, it’s going to yank you back to reality. And you’re going to blink rapidly and think, WTF? And then it’s going to jerk you around some more and twirl you seemingly endlessly for a few seconds (but they’ll feel like years, maybe even a lifetime or two or ten), and then drop you back into reality again.

And spin, repeat, continue…

Yeah. That’s grief. Over and over. Endless happy-sad-happy-sad-happy-sad-fuckimfeelingsadwhyisittakingsodamnlongtomoveon-happy-shithereitcomesagainhopefullyitsquickthistime-happy-happy-happy-happy-goddamnitreallywhyisthisstillsodamnhard-happy-happy-ifuckinghatelife-happy-happy-happy….

Will this ever end????

I really do hate to be the bearer, but, yeah, it’s what you think.

Nope.

It doesn’t end.

I mean, I don’t know for certain because it’s only been not-quite-three-years, but there are (unfortunately) plenty ahead of me who can attest: yeah, it doesn’t end.

Does it get easier?

Yes.

Not that ‘easier’ isn’t without its own trauma.

I remember, at some point in the last year, sitting on my therapist’s couch, sobbing almost hysterically, while I said, “I’m afraid I’m forgetting him.”

Why did I say such a thing? Because life had been going along all nice and peaceful and normal for an extended period of time, and I thought, hey, I’m getting the hang of this, this new life with my new three-person family, and like fireworks set off next to a dog, it hit me why I even had such thoughts and why they were so significant, and then I cried and thought, thank God I have a therapy appointment soon.

And you know what she said?

“Yep, this sucks. Grief sucks. Every single step sucks. But no matter what happens, how you figure out how to deal, you will never forget him.”

It’s just the “good” eventually outweighs the “bad.”

But the “bad” is still there. It’s a fucking smog, hovering over every single little thing you do. You can’t wipe it away. You can’t wish it away. It sucks, and it’s so. Hard. To. Deal. With.

Luckily, as time grinds along, the “bad” moments happen less frequently, or at least, they are less impactful, most of the time. They almost become part of the landscape.

Yep. It’s time to celebrate [insert life event here], and yeah, it’s without my loved one who died, but it’s still important and wonderful and each year that passes, I’m able to enjoy more, weep less.

That’s what’s happening to me. Generally.

Unfortunately, the big things, the important milestones, the traditions, still hurt. Time won’t stop that. Sometimes it’s still this excruciating pain, heart sliced wide open hurt.

Christmas. Yeah, that one still aches almost as badly as that first year, when I was still in denial, still expecting him to come walking down the hall at any moment.

Still wanted to believe he was alive.

And that’s what happened this weekend. Opening the Christmas bins. Seeing the stocking. The placemat he made for Santa, on which we were supposed to place the plate of cookies. The homemade ornaments and decorations. The memories that hit like an actual, physical force when I popped off that rubber top, for some reason, momentarily forgetting how. Fucking. Hard. This. Is.

Holy shit.

Yeah, life sucks right now. Like, exponentially.

But then this afternoon my husband suggested we go run errands before picking up the daughter from her friend’s house. And we talked about the fact that the lease on my car is up soon and what type we should consider next. And we bought stocking stuffers for the daughter. And he decided what he wanted to make for dinner, suggested one of my favorite wines to go with it. So we stopped at the grocery store.

And when we got home, I walked the dog. The husband will make dinner soon. We’ll harass our daughter about homework and remind her to take a shower. We’ll sit around the dining room table and exchange insults and jokes and do those regular, day-to-day things that suddenly seem so much more important than they did three years ago…

And we’ll smile. And laugh. And I’ll think:

I am so grateful for what I have.

Left.

Because I am.

Not that I’ll ever forget what we’re missing. It’s just that I’m figuring out how to balance the two.

A task I’ll continue to work on for the rest of my damn life.

Authors (Should Be) Readers Too

Recently, I’ve seen comments from several well-known and successful authors, stating that they do not have time to read.

This seems odd to me, given that’s what they do for a living: feed books to people to, well, read. Not to mention, isn’t it wise to keep up with the genres one writes? To pay attention to trends? I know this can be (reasonably) done by reading trade articles and chatting with other authors and following the advice of one’s agent or publisher or editor, but still… reading is fun. So it’s win-win: Enjoyable and helpful.

I get the time thing, I really do. I work a fulltime, non-writing-related job, drive a ridiculously, horribly long commute to get there, plus I have a family—specifically an attention-desperate dog (trust me, she gets plenty, it’s just never enough!)—who demand at least a small portion of my time. And let’s not forget the house that never gets clean enough and the laundry that multiplies at a rate that seems to far exceed the number of people actually living in my home.

Oh yeah, and the occasional social obligation (read: hanging out with friends/fam, which is also super important to one’s wellbeing–and provides endless story ideas, BTW). And of course, writing my own damn books for your reading pleasure, when I’m not doing all of the above. I actually long for the day when I am successful enough at this writing gig that I don’t have to have two jobs, thus freeing up time to read more.

As it stands, I don’t have the time to read a ton of books—unless of course I stumble upon a series that sucks me in and doesn’t let me quit until the last word is read (which has happened to me twice recently—more on those series later)–and then, well, everything else gets moved to the sidelines for a few days. #sorrynotsorry

But I still do read regularly, usually a couple books a month. Besides the fact that I think it actually helps me grow and improve my own writing, I find reading to be relaxing. On those evenings when my brain is simply too taxed to create fresh new words of my own, reading someone else’s is the perfect way to spend that last half hour or so before I pass out from exhaustion after a far too long day.

In the spirit of believing even authors should read, I thought I’d let you know what I’ve read lately, in case, you know, you’re looking for your next book (or author) to fall in love with…

51RdLutjNJL._SY346_First, there’s Santa’s Son by David S. Scott. I admit, it was a freebie when I grabbed it, but I’d noticed this book when it came out last Christmas and had actually wanted to read it then. Not sure why I didn’t, but that definitely prompted me to download it this time. And I’m glad I did. It was a short read, therefore perfect for waiting while you’re getting new tires or while standing in line at the grocery store or when you really do only have an hour or so to kill. It’s funny, sexy, cute, and despite how short it is, the hero grows and there’s a satisfactory ending, although it’s left open enough that there’s potential for a second book, should Mr. Scott be so inclined. And the book did what it was meant to do: whet my appetite enough that I’ll definitely check out other books by this author. Even if they aren’t free :).

Then there’s Max Monroe. If you haven’t discovered Max Monroe, I strongly encourage you to check them out. They are a writing duo who, until recently, kept their individual identities secret. A few months ago, they “came out” so to speak, and let the world know who the real authors were behind these hilarious romcoms, which means obsessed fans like myself can now read the books they’ve each written individually as well.

B12BrAZ2B7FES._SL250_FMpng_The series that got me hooked on these two authors (and one of the series I mentioned above, which I read obsessively until the last book) is St. Luke’s Docuseries. There’s Dr. Ob, Dr. ER, and Dr. Neuro, in reading order. It’s a hilarious (and yes, sexy!) series, and these two are seriously talented writers, and I devoured these books like the finest (okay, whatever I could get my hands on) chocolate. I even put my own writing on hold because I couldn’t focus on anything other than the characters in these books. They are best if read in order, however, Dr. ER was my favorite, hands down. I loved these romcoms so much that there are several other Max Monroe books now loaded to my iphone.

I’m an equal opportunity reader: I love contemporary and paranormal. I’ll read science fiction, I’ve read and loved a handful of reverse harems; and a good chic lit or women’s fictions makes me feel warm and fuzzy too.

51mHRwlVZ8L._SL500_SX145_With that said, the other series that hooked me to the point of near obsession is the Muse Chronicles by Lisa Kessler. Yes, it’s PNR. It’s about gods and muses and mortals who are bestowed gifts from the gods, but only if they meet (and of course, fall in love with!) their destined muse. There are seven books in the series, and I am currently halfway through the final book. I kinda want to slow down, take my time, because I don’t want it to end. It doesn’t help that so far, this is the best one of the series. To be honest, each book is better than the last. Lucky for me, this author has a bunch of other books published, so when I finally do turn that last page, I will have something fresh and new to jump right back into.

When I’m not working on my own books, that is. Which will happen, rest assured. Because yes, reading is just as important as writing, if that’s the career path you’ve chosen.

~Tami Lund 

Funerals & Grief & Dealing

A friend of mine recently lost her husband, very suddenly, very young (40s), very tragically (it’s tragic to lose your spouse at any age, but 40s just seems far too young).

I found out via Facebook (isn’t that where we discover practically all our news these days?). I opened the app minutes after she’d posted, announcing her loss and the funeral arrangements, so it was the first one to pop up at the top of my feed. I thought, “This must be a joke.”

Which was the same reaction I had twenty months ago when I was driving home from work and my daughter called and said, “Mom, hurry home! Brady just tried to kill himself!” I yelled at her, “That’s not funny. That’s not remotely funny. Don’t ever joke like that again!” Turns out, she wasn’t joking, and now I carry an extra layer of guilt for shouting at her like that.

The next day, my friend’s tragedy was all we could talk about at the day job, as we discussed when we should go to the viewing and whether we should attend the funeral as well. (No funeral for me—I try my damndest to avoid them at all costs now a-days.) I pulled up her Facebook page to look at the viewing and funeral information, and I had to scroll through picture after picture, post after post, all saying, “I’m sorry” and “Remember when…”

Exactly what happened twenty months ago. I couldn’t even look at my own Facebook page back then, because I didn’t want to see all those pictures, didn’t want to think about the good times, how cute he was, how smart he was, because now he’s gone and all I’ll ever have are those memories, and frankly, that’s not enough.

I went to the viewing with a group of co-workers—current and past. So many people showed up to give their support to their friend, the bereaved; some the widow probably hadn’t seen in years.

Just like at my son’s viewing. I remember getting momentarily excited every time another person walked in who I hadn’t seen in forever … until we recalled why we were finally coming together again.

My friend looked exhausted, and infinitely sad. Greeting people and hugging people and accepting condolences for hours on end when all you really want to do is curl up into a ball and cry until the tears run dry will do that to a person. I know I looked exactly the same way. During tragic times, you cry so much that when you look in the mirror, those puffy, no-makeup eyes actually look normal.

She had someone checking in on her every few minutes—“You okay?” “Need anything?” “Hungry?” “Can I get you another bottle of water?”

I had the same friend. Well, not literally the same person, but that friend, that person who spent the entire viewing tending to my needs, the grieving mother. I’ll probably never be able to thank her enough for that.

And the video. Dear God, the video. Nothing makes people tear up more instantaneously than the video at a viewing. That walk down Memory Lane. Hundreds of pictures of the good times. The person’s life captured in a five-minute, heart-wrenching slideshow. Young, old, in between, the video takes no prisons and leaves no dry eyes.

When all the hoopla was over and everyone else returned to their nice, normal lives, the funeral director gave us a bag of “goodies:” the thumb drive of pictures, the actual photo we’d used for the announcement in the paper and the sign at the funeral home, a stack of thank you cards, the death certificate (so many mementos I never wanted…), and the video, captured forever on CD.

Many bereaved, I’m sure, watch that video, possibly regularly. Maybe on the anniversary or birthday. Maybe every week or every day. Maybe it brings them peace or offers a glimpse into prior happiness that helps buoy their hearts, their lives.

Me, I think I threw it away. Not sure, to be honest. It may be tucked into a drawer somewhere or tossed onto a shelf in the basement. One thing I do know: It’s not something I have any remote interest in watching. Those memories are in my head, and I can barely stand that as it is, let alone actually watching them, recalling all those good times that weren’t enough to eclipse the demons who ultimately took him from me.

All said, I do hope my friend can find some comfort wherever she can in the coming days, weeks, years. Whether it’s the video or the friends and family who rally ’round her, I hope she finds some peace … and happiness. Because as we all know, the living must go on … living.

 

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund sometimes writes reflective, depressing blogs, but the books she writes are anything but. You should sign up for her newsletter, so you get first dibs on the cool new stuff she puts out: http://www.subscribepage.com/Tami_Lund

Not So Much Love For Fall

I used to love fall. But the riot of color in the trees no longer brings me the same pleasure it did just two years ago.

I have no desire to pull my sweaters out of hibernation; no excitement over wearing my multitude of boots (and I own some super cute boots). The cooler days only mean longer nights and less sunshine, and the darkness gives me far too much excuse to feel sorry for myself. It’s the perfect shroud for the tears I prefer to hide from the world.

You see, fall is a season full of memories, memories I haven’t yet figured out how to live with. My son didn’t die in the fall; he died in the spring, but everything about this time of year reminds me of him, of what I lost, of moments I’ll never get to experience again.

He should have started his freshman year this month. I should have a high schooler. Instead, I have one kid starting school, seventh grade, which happens to be the year my son let the demons win. It’s like living that year all over again, except accompanied by the nightmare of what happened and the constant fear that my daughter might do the same thing.

(For the record, she tells us all the time she won’t, which is both a relief and not remotely fair to the poor kid. She’ll never be able to have a ‘normal’ teen angst period, but I have no idea how not to stress over every little nuance in her personality, which occasionally resembles her brother’s.)

Sometimes I wonder what he would have been like. If he had not made such a permanent decision eighteen months ago, would he have gotten over his depression, his misery, conquered the demons who convinced him to take his own life? My husband doesn’t think so. He believes had our son lived, he would have been fighting those demons for the rest of his life.

But at least he’d have a life. And I’d have a son. And humans are fighters, usually. Maybe he would have found some semblance of peace, would have started high school with a fresh, positive outlook.

I’ll never know.

His birthday is next month. He should be turning fifteen. Ready to sign up for driver’s ed. It’s so odd; I spend an inordinate amount of time reflecting on what will never be, yet I can’t bring myself to relive memories of his life while he was still here. It hurts too much. Still.

I often wonder if it always will.

Part of me wants to get to that point where I can talk about him, reminisce, smile and laugh over moments that occurred during the precious little time we had with him. That’s thirteen years of my life that I currently can’t even think about, let alone talk about.

And the other part of me hates the pain, hates crying, hates feeling sorry for myself, hates admitting that I will never have another memory with my son.

After his birthday comes Thanksgiving. A family holiday. The start of the family holiday season. A time of reflection, of appreciation for what we have, of feeling grateful for our family. Which is hard to do when there’s one missing, there will always be one missing. Forever.

Let’s not forget Christmas. ‘Tis the season of opening boxes filled with decorations and ornaments that all have some significance, some emotional purpose. So many that were handmade by my children or personalized with their names or purchased with some aspect of their personalities in mind. Then there’s the stocking with his name on it. The pictures with Santa.

Christmas used to be my favorite holiday. Now I can barely muster excitement; I almost want it to hurry up and go away, move on. Which I hate because that isn’t fair to the one child I have left, or the rest of my family for that matter.

So, like I did my first year trying to figure out the way down this fork in the road created by my son’s decision to leave us forever, I will try to find bits of happiness and joy, hopefully new experiences, new traditions that won’t hurt quite so much.

That’s all any of us can do: Try.

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund sometimes writes reflective, depressing blogs, but the books she writes are anything but. You should sign up for her newsletter, so you get first dibs on the cool new stuff she puts out: http://www.subscribepage.com/Tami_Lund

When your kid commits suicide, you spend a lot of time wondering what if…

What if you’d left work early that day?

What if you’d called/texted and asked him to walk the dog?

What if you’d called/texted and asked if he picked his sister up from the bus stop?

What if you’d called/texted and asked what he wanted for dinner?

What if the dog had realized what was going on and barked incessantly?

What if, four months prior, when he’d gotten so angry he shouted, “I wish I was dead!” you’d sent him to counseling, instead of told yourself, “He’s being an angsty teenager. This will pass.”

What if you’d been a better parent?

What if you’d figured out how to be a stay-at-home-mom?

What if you’d kept going after undergrad, so you had a better job and more flexibility, so you could be there for him more frequently? Or less frequently?

What if you’d waited another six months to start trying?

What if you’d only stopped at one?

What if you’d not allowed him to close his bedroom door when you were home?

What if you’d insisted on more frequent family dinners?

What if you’d pushed him harder to join clubs/sports/anything?

What if you’d asked more questions about school/life/friends/anything? What if you’d not given up when he said, “Fine?”

What if you’d let him play “mature” video games sooner? Or later?

What if you’d lived in a different city? Different state?

What if he had different friends?

What if you hadn’t yelled at him that one time four years ago? Or two days prior?

What if you’d encouraged him more often? Or less often?

What if his math grade hadn’t dropped to a B the week before? What if you hadn’t made such a big deal about it when he made all A’s? What if you didn’t make a big enough deal about it?

What if you’d insisted he practice more frequently, so he made first or second chair in jazz band?

What if you were a better athlete growing up, and maybe more likely to pass those genes onto him?

What if you and your husband expressed more affection? Or less?

What if you’d said “I love you” one more time?

What if you’d figured out how to make his sister less annoying (in his eyes)?

What if you had been aware of any possible bullying going on in his school?

What if it had occurred to you to send him to a different school?

What if there had been signs?

What if you didn’t realize there were signs?

And on and on and on and on … This is what suicide victims leave behind. This is what their parents go through every single day, from the moment it happens, for the rest of their lives. This is what their aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins go through every day. This is what every adult who played any sort of role in that kid’s life goes through every day. This is what their friends struggle with, as they try to maneuver through this fucked up life, made a thousand times worse when they lose a comrade in arms.

Every. Single. Day.

For the rest of their lives.

If you think suicide is the answer to your problems, you’re wrong. Those demons in your head aren’t real. We are. And we care. So. Damn. Much.

#dontdoit

Confessions of a Mom Who Doesn’t Know What the Hell She’s Doing

Yeah, that’s me. Let me paint a picture…

Once upon a time, I had two kids. Despite the lack of a manual and the never-ending advice from everywhere—little that was repeated, and never knowing what was right—I thought I was doing okay. My kids were healthy, getting good grades, had friends, people generally seemed to like them. They shifted from helpless babies to temperamental toddlers to finicky school-aged kids to…

Ten months ago, when he was thirteen, my son committed suicide. No warning, no note, no drugs, no bullying, no idea what happened, other than we (now) believe he had demons in his head that no one else was aware of, and those demons managed to convince him that we would be better off without him in our lives.

Fucking demons.

And now I have one. An eleven-year-old daughter.

So now I reeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaalllllyyyyy think I don’t know what the hell I’m doing with this whole parenting gig. I mean, like I’m starting over from scratch, except I’ve been handed a girl on the verge of her teenage years instead of a helpless baby that needs care and molding.

My daughter is beautiful and funny and smart and is as emotional as my husband. To put it into perspective, the dog has a wider emotional range than the two of them. Not that they don’t have emotions; they just don’t express them.

So here I am, a highly emotional basket case on my best days, desperate to ensure my daughter experiences no more pain in her life—ever. I know, I know, it’s an impossible feat, but losing a kid does things to you. It makes you even more protective of the one you have left. It makes you try a thousand times harder to keep a smile on her face, and it makes you ache a million times worse when she’s unhappy—even when she’s insisting “it’s nothing” because goddamn it, I know it’s something. People aren’t unhappy for the hell of it. Okay, maybe they are, but she isn’t. And, frankly, we used to think my son was unhappy for no good reason, and that when he cleared those angsty teenage years, he’d be A-OK again, but obviously there were other things going on, things we missed. And every single moment my daughter isn’t utterly content with life, I have a bone-deep fear that she too shares those demons who took my son.

And I can’t let them take her, too. She’s all I have left.

Yes, I know this fear is irrational, but being irrational makes it no less real. And yes, I know it’s unlikely my daughter will walk that same path—after experiencing the pain of such a loss first hand, I can’t imagine she would ever let those demons win, if they even exist in her head, which is doubtful. Generally, she’s far too cheerful for demons to hang out in her subconscious.

Which is why it’s so damn poignant when she isn’t happy.

So then I try to goad her into telling me what’s wrong, and she keeps insisting it’s “nothing,” and I try harder, and she clams up more tightly. And then I’m frustrated and sad and trying really damn hard not to cry, because a) nothing, not even my goading makes her shut down faster than when I cry; and b) because it isn’t her fault her brother died and now her mother wants to cling to her so freaking tightly.

And then I start to worry that I’m going to screw her up somehow with all my emotional baggage, and let’s go back to that whole mom-who-doesn’t-know-what-the-hell-she’s-doing theory.

Because I don’t. And that scares the crap out of me. Even though 99.9% of the time, my daughter is perfectly fine, even-keel; over-the-top cheerful on occasion. Actually, more than on occasion. She’s fine. She isn’t depressed, she isn’t miserable; she doesn’t hate life. Or her parents.

Frankly, she’s probably a pretty normal kid, who I happen to think is rather exceptional. And even if I could convince myself that she really is just… normal, I’d still want to protect her from sadness and misery and anger and any other negative emotion or experience. Because she’s my kid. And that’s what parents do.

Shit, am I normal too?

 

 

When I Miss Him Most…

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.

 

 

Happy Release Day, M.S. Kaye!

Once & Again

book 2

SheOnce&Again.v4 was once his secret desire… Will she be again?

Father Aiden, an ex-marine and new priest, falls in love with Maylynn, but he struggles to stay away from her. He’s successful for many years, though he can’t keep her out of his dreams.

Then one day she shows up for a pre-marital counselling session with her fiancé, Davis. Aiden soon realizes Davis isn’t who he says he is, but what does that mean for Maylynn, and for himself?

Will be released August 4, 2016 from Inkspell Publishing.

Add to your to-read on Goodreads.

Author Bio:MSK.v1

M.S. Kaye has several published books under her black belt. A transplant from Ohio, she resides with her husband Corey in Jacksonville, Florida, where she tries not to melt in the sun. Find suspense and the unusual at www.BooksByMSK.com.

To receive news on upcoming releases, sign up for email updates on her website.

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Once, book one

Will be released July 2, 2016 from Inkspell Publishing.

Her first and also her once.

Jonathan and Rebecca’s paths cross at exactly the right moment, when each most needs to hear what the other has to say.

But Jonathan is three days from entering the priesthood, and Rebecca leaves him to his peace. But he is unable to find peace.

Without each other’s comfort and strength, they must each struggle to forge a new path, with only memories of the one day that changed everything.

But are they able to forget and let go?

Once & Forever, book three

Will be released December 2016 from Inkspell Publishing.

Eden, a nun, is constantly struggling against her dark past of living on the streets, and her attraction to Trace, an ex-convict farm worker. After a twelve-year separation, Eden is finally reunited with her brother, Thomas, but why hadn’t she reached out to him in all those years? As Eden and Trace grow closer, confessing their pasts to each other, will they be able to resist getting too close?

Excerpt:

“You’re studying to be a priest?”

He made himself meet her eyes. “I am a priest.”

She let go of his hand and stepped back.

Her smiled was tight. “I’m glad you found your path.”

Quiet.

He couldn’t quite read her expression. The distance between them felt like a gorge chiseled into the earth.

“Are you all right, Maylynn?” he asked.

“I’m really happy for you.” Then she added, “Father Aiden.”

For some reason, her words stabbed him in the gut. He usually liked when people used his title—it seemed to imply a certain amount of trust.

“I’m sorry, Maylynn.” He wasn’t entirely sure why he was apologizing. He just didn’t like to see her uncomfortable.

“I’m happy for you,” she repeated.

Then he realized what the problem was. He hadn’t anticipated this.

He moved closer. “I’m so sorry.”

Her forced smile finally dropped. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

“It didn’t occur to me…”

“That I might be attracted to you?”

“Yes.”

“Why aren’t you wearing your collar?” Anger prickled the edge of her voice.

“My mother’s last wish was that I find my father. I’ve been following her notes. She was convinced he was somewhere in this area.”

“Wait… Your mother’s name was Adalina?”

He nodded. With the number of times the shelter was mentioned in the notes, he figured his mother and Maylynn had met.

A pause.

Anger flashed in her eyes. “You still should’ve told me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Why’d you play with me like that?”

“I swear that wasn’t my intent.”

“You knew damn well what was going on. Was it a game—see if you still had it? If you could still get the chicks?”

Under the anger in her eyes, he saw the hurt. He swore he could feel it exactly, as if it was his own.

He shifted even closer, just in front of her. “I’m sorry,” he said again. His voice lowered, quieted. “I didn’t see what you were feeling because I was fighting so hard myself. I still am.”

“Fighting what?”

“What I felt the first time I saw you, what I’m still feeling.”

She waited, glaring at him.

“I’m attracted to you,” he said. “Intensely.”

Intro-Extrovert… I’m So Damn Confused

I just want a minute to myself… Okay, not really.

For those of you who don’t know, my life inexplicably changed about six weeks ago, when my thirteen-year-old son died. Yeah, it sucked. It still does.

Not that I’ve had time to wallow in that fact. Save for those precious moments in the bathroom and my stupid-long commute to the day job, I haven’t had a minute to myself since the day it happened…Wait, I forgot about the mornings. Used to be, my son and I got up at the same time and left the house at the same time each day. Now, I’m the first up and I’m walking out the door just as my husband and daughter are dragging their tired not-morning-people butts out of bed.

Also used to be, I treasured my alone time. Liked it. Craved it. I was one of those intro and extroverted people. Give me a crowd, and I’ll do my damndest to make them laugh. Give me a few hours all to myself, and I’ll get lost in the plot of my latest book and wish I could never, ever leave.

Now, I hardly know what it’s like to get lost in a book, whether reading or writing. My friends and family won’t let me. Everybody’s afraid to leave me alone. Or maybe that’s my perception. Maybe they genuinely are concerned. Really, though, I know they all just want to help, however they can. And nobody knows how to help, because who the hell plans for something like this? So everybody figures they need to keep me occupied so I won’t think about it.

And they’re right. And I love them for it. I appreciate it, too. I am amazed by the number of (already strong) friendships that have somehow managed to strengthen in the wake of the life-altering disaster my life became a few weeks ago.

But that introvert is still in there, too. And she’s desperate to get lost in a book. One she wrote—or is almost done writing—would be nice, because I’m about due to schedule another release. I don’t like to keep readers waiting too long between books.

Or, hell, reading a book would be nice, too. Cover to cover. Entirely immersed. So hooked I can completely and utterly forget about the real world for a few hours.

I just need to make sure it has a happy ending. Because I need a few of those right now.

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

 

Tami Lund is an author, wine drinker, and is trying really hard to write blog posts that contain a touch of humor.

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