Tempted to Try a Vampire?

Ever wanted to try a vampire romance? Here’s your chance. RESIST, my contribution to the Blood Courtesans series, is only 99 cents for a limited time. It’s about a vampire who is the leader of the Chicago covens and a young human woman who believes vampires killed her aunt and have now kidnapped her sister, and a mutual attraction neither wants or needs at the moment.

Here’s a teaser:

There was no reason to mingle our blood, to lift her palm to my mouth and lick while she stared with eyes so wide they very nearly encompassed her entire face. She tasted of wine and fresh earth and air and crisp grass and sunshine. She tasted like memories I haven’t allowed myself to wallow in for far too long.

And she tasted of sex. Not virginal, though, which would have put off some vampires. There was something about virginal blood that stirred something deep in a vampire’s soul, or what passed for one. It was the reason the idea of blood courtesans had been created.

Me, I wasn’t picky. Humans were necessary for survival, and I’d indulged in my fair share of courtesans, some virgin, some not. My preference tended to lean more toward willingness and desire to stick to the rules we’d laid out for the relationship. The one time I ended up with a sappy, clingy courtesan was the last time. I very nearly changed the woman just to do it, just so she could see what an obnoxious brat she was being.

I enjoyed one more lick before allowing Anya to have her hand back. The slightest tremor shot through my arm when I released her. I wanted to feed—and to indulge other desires as well—but I had never taken blood or sex from an unwilling partner, and I wasn’t about to start now.

That little blood bond notwithstanding, of course. That, I reasoned, was a matter of her safety.

She stared at the closed wound, at the white, puckered scar for long moments before lifting those large expressive eyes to me.

“Why’d you do that?” The suspicion was a palpable thing in her voice. This was no naïve country bumpkin. For some reason, that excited me further.

“Would you prefer the sugar-coated version or the entire truth?”

Her eyes narrowed. “The truth.”

I didn’t understand my fellow brethren’s taste for innocence. Anya’s inexperience with my kind was overshadowed by her natural confidence and spark, and was far more alluring than dealing with a young woman who would do and say whatever I asked. Or demanded.

“I’ve bonded you to me. This way, I can sense you, where you are, possibly even when you are in danger. As much as I would be pleased to do so, I know I cannot realistically keep you by my side for every second of every day and night. This way, during those moments we are not together, I will still know you are safe.”

She pulled her hand off the table and rubbed it against her jeans. Such lovely jeans. Not an expensive name brand, yet they fit her rounded ass like a glove, made walking behind her a special treat. What I wouldn’t give to peel that denim away from her skin so I could stroke her, lick her, taste her. One of my favorite areas to take blood was from a woman’s soft inner thigh. Hers, I suspected, would be softer, smoother, than any other I’ve experienced. And I’ve had a great deal of experience.

“You aren’t helping to change my impression of vampires,” she said, slapping me with a dose of guilt for making such a decision without her consent. What an unusual sensation.

~~~

resist_blood-courtesans

Tempted? Give it a try – it’s only 99 cents!

Amazon

Smashwords

And when you fall in love, there are a whole bunch of other books in the series, to satisfy your, er, vampire tooth. Here’s the link to the website, which lists all of them: BLOOD COURTESAN SERIES

Ready, set, read!

 

 

It’s Been A Pretty Decent Week…So Far

Yes, this is a bit preemptive, given it’s, well, Monday, but I’ve had a pretty decent week so far. Considering the anniversary that’s happening in a couple days, I figure I should take what I can get.

Granted, it didn’t start out fabulously, what with the one-and-a-half hour commute to the day job, slipping and sliding along unsalted and unplowed roads due to early morning snow showers (that lasted all day, by the way – WTF, Mother Nature? Don’t you know it’s almost spring??). But after that, things got better.

Not the weather, though. Actually, it’s still snowing. And while it’s pretty, IT’S MARCH, FOR GOD’S SAKE, MOTHER NATURE! (Also, it sucks to drive in snow. Even if you’ve done it for most of your driving life.)

Let me count the positives, in hopes they hold up against that big, fat negative. Or at least help me get through it…

A sweet text from the bestie. “Going to check up on you over the next couple of days. Fair warning.” No, she’s not a stalker. She just loves me, and knows this is going to be one rough week.

A royalty check in the mail. (A small one, but hey, we’re counting every little positive here.)

A card full of tiny paper hearts from my husband’s bestie (Is it cool to call guys ‘besties’? Or does that make it weird?), with a note that said, “Sometimes life is just bullshit.” So, so true. But friends who send you cards like that are the silver lining.

And the best news of all: My daughter has been invited to apply to become a member of the National Junior Honor Society! I couldn’t be more proud, and the timing couldn’t be better. As sad as this week will inevitably become, I’m celebrating the moment. My wonderful tribe. And my beautiful daughter and her accomplishments. Honestly, I would have been pleased as punch if her brother were still around to share in this joy (he was NJHS too), but I confess, this little thrill is even more impactful now.

I’m sure I’ll be drowning in the sadness in the next couple days, but for now … It’s been a pretty damn decent week.

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

 

Tami Lund is an author who drinks wine, wins awards, and writes happily ever afters. She also sends cool newsletters. You should signup: http://www.subscribepage.com/Tami_Lund

March Is Madness, But I’ll Be Okay…Eventually

It’s March. The worst month of the year. Which isn’t a fair assessment, generally speaking. March means spring, warm weather is coming. My dad’s birthday is in March; so is my husband’s and several other friends. St. Patrick’s Day. March Madness. Daylight Savings Time.

And my son died on March 15th, last year.

It’s weird. I cannot tell you what I did day by day, in these two weeks leading up to The Worst Day of My Life, but right now, every single day, I relive those few moments when it happened, over and over, a video stuck on repeat and I can’t figure out how to shut it off.

The exact moment when the call came through, as I was driving home from work. My daughter’s breathless voice blaring out of the speaker in the car. “Mom, Brady tried to kill himself!”

Me, instantly annoyed. “That’s not funny. Not even remotely. Don’t ever tell jokes like that again.”

Her, insisting she wasn’t kidding, then telling me to hurry up and get home, and then hanging up on me. My heart, starting to pound uncomfortably fast, even as I immediately began to tell myself it wasn’t true, it was a sick joke, and oh boy, was she going to be in trouble when I got home.

But I started calling anyway. Called the house phone, my husband’s cell, the neighbor whose kids were at my house at the time. No one answered. My heart rate increased, I almost felt like I couldn’t breathe. And I still kept telling myself it wasn’t true. It was a joke. A horrible, horrible joke.

My husband finally called back, and my greeting was, “What’s going on? Reagan called and said Brady tried to commit suicide. What the hell is she talking about?”

“She’s right,” he said. “Hurry up and get here.”

“What?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know why. Just get home.”

“Is he…”

“I don’t know. The ambulance just left, took him to the hospital. I’m waiting on you, so we can go together. The neighbors have Reagan. Just get here.”

And then the line went dead. Just like my son. My entire life, altered forever, in a way that can never be fixed. Death is rather permanent; the one aspect of life we can’t fix or change or get back.

So if I seem a little out of sorts these next couple weeks, I hope you’ll forgive me. Like every other aspect of grieving so far, I don’t really know how to handle this, as it’s my first time going through it. His birthday was, thus far, the hardest day since his death, but I have a feeling March 15 will be even worse, at least this year. As it turns out, the pain of losing your child is substantially worse than the pain of bringing them into this world. This pain never goes away, because everything went away that day.

So be patient, bear with me. I’ll be back to normal in a few weeks. At least, this new version of normal.

 

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund is an author of books with happy endings, and a blogger of depressing real-life subjects. She also drinks a lot of wine, but I’m sure you’ll agree that can be forgiven. After her blog post makes you cry, I recommend trying one of her books, to lift your spirits again. Because that’s why she writes: To make you smile, and help us all escape reality for a while.

 

Writer’s Block, a New Release, Valentine’s Day, and a Thousand Other Things…

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I have a husband and a new book release, and all I can focus on is this stupid writer’s block that’s been plaguing me.

Pretty pathetic, eh?

But it’s a vampire novel, and my first one was so well received, I really want to give readers another. Plus, the characters in this one are secondary characters from the first one (It’s called RESIST, if you’re interested. Click the name to check it out, if you want), and I have a terrible tendency to fall so much for my characters that I want to write a happily ever after for every single one.

Wait a minute, I suppose I should tell you about the book that’s releasing tomorrow. On Valentine’s Day. Appropriate, as it’s titled CLAIMING MY VALENTINE (yep, click the name to check out the book). Yeah, it’s an anthology. Fourteen short stories (get it – fourteen??). Shapeshifter stories. Shifter love stories that have something to do with Valentine’s Day. All with a happy ending.

Promo Pic

To top it all off, every penny earned will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Yep. Just for the heck of it. No, not really. It’s because it’s a good cause. Helping every little bit we can, for an incredibly important cause.

So back to my vampire writer’s block. I’m a hundred pages in, the hero and heroine haven’t yet done the nasty (although hot damn, there’s been lots of tension), and now I’ve reached the climactic moment. Not that one; the do or die one. The one where the bad guys discover whatever it is the good guys didn’t want them to know, and now it seems utterly impossible that the good guys will make it out alive (and finally get it on!!), and…

And I’ve rewritten this scene three times in the last three weeks. Three. Times. I should probably go back to the original. It’s probably the best. Except I have the other two fighting for dominance in my head–oh, and let’s talk Valentine’s Day.

I haven’t even bought a card for my husband, let alone acknowledged the day in any way whatsoever. He, on the other hand, has already given me flowers. Yeah, he had them delivered to the day job last Friday. Why? Well, funny story, that. See, I work with a lot of women, most under the age of thirty. It’s a rather young work environment. Anyway, a few years ago on Valentine’s Day, the flower deliveries reached such ridiculous heights, somebody started tracking the number. At the time there were probably 120 people in the office, and I believe we surpassed 50 deliveries. Those poor delivery guys, because the traffic out by where I work suuuuuuuuux.

Yes, before you ask, I was one of those 50. And I went home and told the hubs about the crazy number, how everyone couldn’t stop talking about it. So the next year, I got flowers on Feb 13, with a card that read, “Wanted you to be the first.”

Yeah, yeah, he’s a romantic. On occasion. But take it with a grain of salt: When I got home and thanked him for the flowers, he said, “It was cheaper, too!”

That’s my man. Because he knew damn well I’d fall a little more in love with him for saying that.

Ugh, see now I’m thinking about sweet, sappy happy endings, when I need to work out this dramatic, exciting, death-defying climax, so I can edit this damn thing and get it into readers’ hands!

Oh yeah, and I should probably spread the word about my Valentine’s Day shifter release, too. Because my contribution to CLAIMING MY VALENTINE (yep, click the name – click it!) is called Broken Light, and if you’re a Lightbearer fan, you’ll want to grab it.

Broken Light LB Prequel #2

It’s Xander’s story, FYI. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you clearly haven’t read FIRST LIGHT (yes, click the name), which you should, because it’s free, and it’s the prequel to the entire Lightbearer series.

Wait, where was I again? What day is it? And most important: Where’s the wine???

PS – Happy Valentine’s Day to those who celebrate. Happy almost-not-Monday-anymore for those who don’t.

 

 

Claiming My Valentine Shifter Antho – Coming Soon!

Curious about the inner workings, the ‘stuff’ that goes on in authors’ heads as they create stories such as the 14 included in this sexy shifter anthology? A few of my fellow authors in this anthology have been blogging about the stories contained within, on the authors themselves, even featuring characters from the books.

Check out the blogs below, and don’t forget to grab your copy of CLAIMING MY VALENTINE. Remember, all proceeds will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital!

Savannah’s Though Garden

Josette Reuel’s Blog

Promo Pic

PS – Here’s how to snag your copy:

 

 

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?

 

 

Ode to a Best Friend

 

It all started in college.

If I recall correctly, we met, or at least spoke, for the first time at a basketball game, our sophomore year at Centenary College of Louisiana. From there, she became my go-to girl, my wingman, my shoulder to cry on, my compatriot to get drunk and laugh with. She has always given the best advice, and insisted upon meeting my husband prior to giving me permission to get serious with him because she knew damn well how lousy I was at picking guys.

She was my roommate. We were each other’s maids of honor. She was my son’s godmother, and the first person I called after he died. When she got the call, she was at a conference in Indianapolis. The next day, she flew home to Dallas, repacked her bag, got back onto a flight to Detroit, all in one day, and was one of the last to leave when all the funeral insanity was over.

This past weekend, she flew back to Detroit and helped me clean out the room. All the way across the country to clean out a thirteen year old’s dusty, unused bedroom. And we did it. We got through it.

I couldn’t have without her. If she hadn’t come up this weekend, the door would still be closed, the room still untouched. Possibly until my own death, or if we ever decided to move. I mean, there are only three of us now, and we have a basement, which is where guests stay when they visit overnight. We certainly don’t need the space.

But it’s done now. Well, not quite. We still have a few small trinkets to determine whether to keep or throw away, and a pile of computer stuff to figure out whether to sell, donate, or recycle. But the clothes, the bed, the book bag, the old toys and books, the random bits of memorabilia; it’s all gone. The room is mostly empty. And the door now stands open, allowing the sunlight to stream into the otherwise dark, interior hall. This was, in truth, my driving force for cleaning it out in the first place. To have sunlight in a dark place.

It was hard, but not as hard as I expected, at least until we got to that top shelf in the closet. The one where he’d stored his newborn baby blanket in a box, intending to give to his own child someday. He was only six when he made that decision.

That shelf was also where I’d stored the boxes of baby memorabilia, including one my bestie had made for me when he was born. And a journal my mom had been keeping, when she babysat him when he was an infant. Literally, day by day notes of his life.

A life gone far too soon.

There was a “Big Brother” T-shirt up there, too. And a teddy bear that was signed by everyone who’d attended my baby shower. I didn’t even open the box full of homemade gifts from daycare and early elementary school. Seeing, touching the blanket was bad enough.

One more milestone, conquered. Yet another I wished I didn’t have to get through; never dreamed I’d have to.

That was the first day of a four-day weekend. After dropping off a truckload of supplies to the local Salvation Army, we put on pajamas and chilled the wine and relaxed with my husband and daughter; let the sadness slowly recede while we enjoyed excellent food, wine, and company. Especially the company.

And then we spent the rest of the weekend playing. My bestie got to see my daughter’s basketball team win. My parents and in-laws got to see my bestie. My daughter spent the night at a friend’s, so we got to “adult” on Saturday evening, which involved a lot of wine and a few other good friends. Before the night was over, we’d concocted a plan for our next get-together.

On Sunday I took her into the city; she’d never been to Detroit before. We negotiated with a parking attendant, ate at a cool, hip restaurant, visited the riverfront, and took pictures with Canada in the background.

And Monday, before I had to take her to the airport and let her return to her own life, we did one of our favorite “together” activities: we had afternoon tea.

While the purpose for the visit was depressing as hell, it was truly one of the best weekends of my life. And it was all because I have such an amazing best friend.

bffs

Despite It All, I’m Still Thankful…

I know it’s Christmas and not Thanksgiving, but it’s okay to be thankful regardless of the season, right? And as horrible as this year has been for me, I realize I have a lot to be thankful for. This list is in no particular order, and does not cover everyone, not by a long shot. These are the scenarios standing out in my mind at this particular moment in time. Even if you are not on this list, know I appreciate your friendship, your support, your love, your laughter. It takes a village to hold up a grieving author, and you all have succeeded in spades. Now, on to the individual thanks…

I am thankful for my best friend, who, the day after I called to tell her the devastating news of my son’s death, flew across country twice in one day, just to get here to be with me during the most difficult few days of my life. I am thankful for a billion other reasons, too, but there isn’t enough space to go through each and every one. Just know this: I got the bonus package in the best friend lottery.

I am thankful for my husband, who, when I tried to blame myself for our son’s death, refused to even let me finish the sentence. And who has never once criticized or questioned or condescended the oceans of tears I’ve shed since March. Not only that, but when the waterworks start, he automatically pulls me into his arms and lets me soak whatever shirt he’s wearing at the time. It takes a real man not to get sick of his openly grieving wife, when his version of grieving is to internalize it.

I am thankful for my daughter, who has suffered more than any eleven-year-old should, and yet is one of the happiest, most cheerful, intelligent, gorgeous kids I know. And yes, I’m biased. But seriously, this kid has weathered this storm far better than I have. She actually likes to talk about her brother, to collect items that remind her of him, to cling to his memory. She keeps me sane, keeps me grounded, and I know she will never forget those years she wasn’t an only child.

I am thankful for my family, all of them, but especially my siblings and their significant others, my parents, my inlaws, my husband’s siblings and spouses, my nieces and nephews. I needed you all, and you were there. Your unwavering support has been worth its weight in gold. And silver. And titanium.

I am thankful for my friend TR, who, the day after it happened, brought over enough food to feed an army (which was good, since that’s about how many people made their way through our house over the course of that following week), not to mention enough boxes of tissues to last a normal household for a century. And when we ran out a couple weeks ago, she sent more. That’s all besides how helpful she was at the viewing, the funeral, and pretty much any time we needed her.

I am thankful for my friend KL, who grieves the same way I do, and who knows how I feel practically before I do. And who knows when to send a funny text, a serious text, a snarky text, or just sit and drink together, without saying a word. Okay, that’s a lie. We can always find something to talk about. And I always feel better afterward.

I am thankful for NR, who has embraced my daughter so tightly, I’m a little afraid she wants to adopt her. And from that friendship, our own has blossomed. Which is really pretty cool.

I am thankful for my daughter’s teachers and principals. The ones in her elementary school who wrapped her in a little bubble of love, so much so that I dreaded her move to middle school. And I am thankful for her teachers and principal at her new middle school, who have welcomed her with open arms, and who are helping her to excel in a brand new environment, despite the baggage of grief she’s brought with her.

I am thankful for my husband’s besties (Is it okay to call a group of frat brothers “besties”?) and their wives, for a lot of reasons. For the support, for the laughs, for, during his formative college years, helping to mold him into the man he is. And I should probably mention my thankfulness for the contribution his fraternity alumni association made to help cover the funeral expenses. We didn’t even know until the funeral home contacted us and mentioned it.

I am thankful for my writing group, for the friends I have who live all over the globe. Besides the, you know, actual writing aspect of the group, I’m thankful for the friendship, the support. The private conversations when I was suffering through my darkest hours, thinking thoughts best not shared in public. The cards and gifts, including the stuffed animal for my daughter, and the gift card to Bronner’s, to help replace the ornaments I lost when our tree fell over a couple weeks ago. The encouragement, the advice, the never judging, no matter how wacky I’ve sounded in the last nine months (or probably at any time).

I am thankful for my neighbors, my neighborhood. I won the lottery (again—see BFF comment above), and I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have settled into this home. Even if it is a thousand miles from the day job (or so it feels, during rush hour).

And I am thankful for you, for reading my blog posts, for your comments and encouragement, while I work my way through this grieving process the only way I know how… By writing.

Some relationships are irreplaceable. And I am thankful for each and every one of them.  Continue reading “Despite It All, I’m Still Thankful…”

“Oh My God, The Tree Just Fell Over”

It wasn’t the dog.

When our Christmas tree crashed to the floor in the living room only minutes after we’d finished decorating it, for a brief moment in time, it felt like my entire world was crashing down around me.

Again.

The day had been hard enough. First, there were the tears when my daughter asked, “Why does church make you said, Mom?” To which I replied, “Because when I’m there, all I hear is, ‘sacrifice your only begotten son.’”

Then we headed out to the tree farm, a different one from where we usually went, and this time, we tagged along with my brother and his family. It was just different enough to be fun, tainted by only a shadow of sadness.

Until we got home. Until I began carrying boxes upstairs from the basement. Until I opened that first one, and staring up at me was a homemade decoration, naturally, from my son. And so I cried as I sifted through the ornaments and decorations and prepared to dress the tree.

I tucked away the stocking, the Christmas memories booklet he’d made for me when he was five, and the mat for Santa’s cookies, which says, “To Santa, from Brady.” But we added the personalized ornaments to the tree, and I cried some more as I thought about each memory, the reason behind each purchase. A yellow school bus for the year he went to kindergarten. The steam engine for the train phase. “Bah humbug” from last year, when he was cranky more than he wasn’t.

I cried and drank wine and pushed through because my daughter was having such a fun time making the tree look pretty. She and I even added the lights this year, a job usually reserved for my husband. But he was outside putting lights up on the house for the first time in a few years, so we certainly weren’t about to complain.

The tree was full and there were only a few ornaments left, and we joked that we had no more room. And then the phone rang, my mother calling. I don’t even remember why she called or what we talked about. All I know is my daughter and husband were in the kitchen, the dog was curled in her bed, and I was standing in the hallway, staring at the brightly lit tree as it crashed to the floor.

“What was that?” my mother asked.

“Oh my God, the tree just fell over.”

“Bye,” she said, and I dropped the phone. The dog ran into her crate, her safe place. My daughter rushed into the room and dropped to her knees amongst the shattered remains of seventeen years’ worth of Christmas memories, lamenting most especially the loss of the Bronner’s ornaments, the big, fat ones with our names scrawled across the front. Every one except my husband’s (his name is Chris) had to be special ordered because we don’t have typical names.

The train didn’t make it, along with a dozen others. The one with an eight-point buck we’d bought my husband the year he’d shot his first deer. The dog-loving one we’d purchased not two weeks prior for my daughter. I’m honestly not even sure which others didn’t survive. Many were little more than dust when we pulled the tree upright and discovered it had a twisted trunk, and by setting it straight in the stand, we’d actually made it top-heavy. The only way we were able to get it to stay upright was by shoving a pile of newspapers under one side of the stand.

I admit, I lost it that evening. Once the tree was no longer in danger of falling over, I sank to the floor and sobbed. Admittedly, this isn’t unusual, not since March, although I usually go off and hide so no one has to experience the rather un-pretty sight. My daughter hates to see me cry, and tends to hide her own sadness as a result, and I don’t want her to bottle things up the way so many of us do. And my husband isn’t a fan of feeling helpless, and that’s exactly how he feels whenever I cry, a phenomenon he’d rarely experienced prior to this year.

And then my husband walked over, offered me a hand, and pulled me up and into his arms. He let me soak his shirt for a few minutes, and then he said, “We’ll replace the name ornaments. All four.” And I cried harder. So he said, “Hey, you’re the one who said you wanted to do something different this year.”

And we laughed. All three of us.

The cleanup was still hard. There were more tears. I’m still heartbroken over the loss of the physical reminders of those memories. And I’m also admittedly relieved that I don’t have to open those boxes next year and see quite so many of those reminders of what I’ve lost.

When it was finally done, the cleanup and the redecorating of the tree, after we tucked our daughter into bed and my husband wandered off to do who knows what, I stood in the dark in the living room and stared at the tree. There were still plenty of ornaments; it didn’t look sparse at all. A cursory examination of the remaining ornaments told me many of those that broke were representations of my son’s life.

2016-xmas-tree

It wasn’t the dog, but I kept wondering … Was it something else?

I’m sure it won’t surprise you that I’ve been in therapy since this past spring. I’ve discussed signs with my therapist. “Everyone talks about receiving a sign that their loved one is happy and well up in heaven,” I’ve told her. “I want a sign. Why haven’t I had a sign?”

I think this was my sign. I admit, I was expecting a shooting star or something equally as profound and benign. But this … this was exactly the sort of sign my son would send.

“I’m trying to make you less sad, Mom,” was what I think he’s trying to tell me, in his typically convoluted way.

I’ll take it.

So no, it wasn’t the dog. And yes, we’re pulling together, finding the joy in this holiday season. Wherever we can. However we can.

Oh, and by the way, ‘Bah Humbug’ survived the crash.

ba-humbug

 

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