The Great Missing
My book releases in just over a week, and I’ve been caught off guard more than once by emotion… many excited, happy feelings, and other feelings too–like nervousness and self-doubt. But something else has shown up as well.
And that something else is a surprising resurgence of grief.
You see, I wrote this story in the months after I lost someone precious to me. My aunt, Jeannine, passed away suddenly in February 2018. She had always been such a positive presence in my life, and our relationship had grown into a strong friendship as I transitioned to adulthood.
I know she would have been so, so proud to see me achieve this goal. But the weird thing is, my story wouldn’t be the same story at all if I hadn’t lost her. I wrote the first draft of THE CIRCUS OF STOLEN DREAMS in the wake of great grief. I wished more than anything that I could go back in time and do something different that would mean a different outcome for her life.
Of course, when someone we love passes, we can’t go back and change things in the world where we live. But, without even fully understanding what I was doing at the time, I ended up writing a story where my main character has the beautiful, magical chance to go and fight to bring home the one she has lost.
So there’s something strange about the realization that I wish so very much that my aunt had a chance to be a part of this special moment in my life, along with the understanding that this story became the story it is because she’s gone. That’s something I’ll need to sit with for a while, I think, though I’m also certain she would be proud of me for using my voice to help pave a way through the sadness.
A Small Gift
As part of the paperwork we went through to organize my aunt’s affairs, I found a small gift card to Barnes and Noble that hadn’t been used. It stayed in a file of random papers for a while, and I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with it.
But, as my book release date approaches, I know exactly what I’m going to do.
On the day my book comes out, I’m going to take a trip to Barnes and Noble. I’m going to use Jeannine’s gift card to buy a copy of my book. Her copy. The copy she would certainly have bought if she was still here today.
There are a lot of things of hers that I wish I didn’t have, because I wish she were still here to have them. Some home decor, some clothes, some of the beautiful jewelry she used to make. And now I will carry her copy of my book with me home from the store. I will imagine her smile and her excitement for me. I will miss her so very much.
If you peek at the acknowledgments, at the end of the book I have poured my entire heart into, you’ll find Jeannine there. She’s in other places too, like our family’s sense of humor, recipes she left behind, in the way those who knew her try to bring a little bit extra sunlight into the world.
Writing this book that has helped me through a very difficult time, and I hope so very much that will help others, even in some small way, to cling tightly to hope and find their own way to heal.