This is the first time that I’ve written anything publicly since my mother passed away suddenly on March 8th, excluding her obituary and her eulogy. To be honest, it felt like the creativity completely went out of me, and that my relationship with writing left me along with my mother. I cried. I went to therapy. I talked to loved ones and friends about it. But it didn’t feel like I was completely letting it out. Yes, I was grieving, but I was angry too. Angry at what, I don’t really know. At the world for going to hell when all I wanted to do was mourn my mom. Angry that I never got to have that last phone call with her. Angry that it happened at all, and I couldn’t somehow save her.
That anger built up and exploded at one of my own books. Between crying and screaming like a wounded animal, unleashing a sound I have never made before, I ripped apart my most recent book, Wolf Pit. Literally, I tore it into pieces and threw it against the wall and yelled at it, like somehow that would make the grief better.
And it helped. For a time.
For a brief moment, I could breathe a little easier, and I shocked myself back into reality and kind of realized that my grief made me lash out at my own writing. Wolf Pit was the last book my mom read. And she died before we could even talk about it.
You have to understand, ever since I was a child, my mom was there for me whenever I talked about my writing. She’d stay up late to read over school papers to make sure I hadn’t screwed up my thesis statement, or used the wrong words. She’d listen patiently as I spewed out story ideas and drew diagrams for her of wolf spirits, gods, magic systems, new worlds, etc. She might not have always understood, but she listened. And it was far from where I had started.
I never really liked to read when I was a child. Instead, I wanted her or my dad to read to me. She was strict about it, though. When I started memorizing books from listening to her and reciting them back to her to act like I was reading, she caught me, and she’d make me pick a harder book. But that eventually instilled in me a love for the written word. Books took me away to new worlds, and I was introduced to a hobby that helped me escape anxiety and depression (not that I recognized it at that time).
My favorite book was Aunt Isabel Tells a Good One, by Kate Duke. This book had everything. Adventure. A child and an adult weaving a story together. My first heroine (in mouse form). The heroine saving a prince. Romance. I loved it, and I read it over and over both with her and by myself.
When I started writing my own books, she encouraged me to read them to her, including fanfiction. I remember printing off pages of my Redwall fanfiction that I could read to her late at night while we were visiting my grandparents in Wisconsin. We’d stay up so long, her on the bed, me, curled up on a comfortable cot. I loved it.
There was this one time when I gave her the final chapters of a trilogy I’d written. After she was finished, she didn’t say a word to me. She just went to bed. I thought she hated it, but she told me the next day that the ending (and what I did to a character) made her so sad she just had to go to bed. I felt bad…for a second, but then that devilish author in me did a happy dance that I could illicit such an emotion from her.
Throughout my writing journey, she was always there, either listening to my plots, or reading the books once they were completed. Even when our relationship struggled, we could still share our love of stories and writing together. She was the first person to get me interested in one of my favorite authors, Mercedes Lackey. And when I was helping my dad clean up the house after she died, guess what books I found in a bag next to the tv…ones by Mercedes Lackey. The same ones that had inspired me to read the series.
I know she’s still with me in spirit, but I also know that I’ll never hear her voice again. Never really be able to share my ideas and discuss books with her ever again, and it hurts. It might be small in comparison to everything else right now, but my mother helped fuel my love of reading and writing. So when she died, a little of my writing spirit died with her.
I’ll go back to it eventually, I know that. Mom wouldn’t want me to quit, especially not after how I ended Wolf Pit. And my love and memories of her can live on in my craft, using what she taught me. I just wish to God I could talk to her about what she thought, listen to her advice, and hear her encouragement one last time.
Keep your loved ones close, give them hugs, and remember to tell them you love them.
I miss you, Mom.