Virtual Tour: Waking Savannah

Well, looky dis! –>Click on the ticky because I don’t know how to embed it. Sorry. I’m lame.

I’m on virtual tour to promote the release of Waking Savannah (October 25th) along with sister in Lyrical Shine, Heather Heyford. Enter to win an ecopy of BOTH our books!


Waking Savannah, Book 3 of The Bitterly Suite



Filed under Romance

Thoughts, upon waking

I do not in darkness dwell, when daylight holds its sway; but, in the darkness, I do dwell, on all day holds at bay.


Strange words to wake to, but I did. I don’t have to wonder why, though. I dream, and I remember my dreams for the most part. There are few nights I don’t go to sleep with Chris on my mind, and wake up to the same. He tends to fill in the space between.

I believe it’s because I do my best not to let the sorrow overwhelm me during the day. That’s not to say it doesn’t hit me, but I’m able to push it gently away, tell it, “Not now.” Then comes the night and pushing it away feels as wrong as it would to push him away. He needs his time on my mind, just like he needed time in my arms, when he was a baby who didn’t like to sleep on his own; or a young man who needed me to make sure he kept breathing through the night.

Day is for missing Scottie, for cherishing the broken ties he needed broken so badly. It’s for feeling Gracie’s excitement in finding her place in the world. It’s to experience Jamie’s babies, her dream career, through her eyes. Day belongs to them. And so, night belongs to Chris.

My newest work-in-progress, Heroically Lost*, is largely about knowing the difference between making choices, and letting the choices get made for us. I’m not sure if I made the choice to let Chris have the night, but I honestly don’t think I could unchoose it either. It’s just the way it happens, and I’m okay with that.

*Heroically Lost comes from a Yeats poem, A Crazed Girl


…Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling She knew not where,
Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found…


Filed under Family, Life's honest moments, poetry

Today is the day…

…sixteen years ago, Chris’ life was irrevocably altered. A freak accident, a mismanaged string of events no one quite understood at the time, and if they did, didn’t speak up, set him on the course that ended in his death. We trusted doctors we thought knew the right way. Fools, we were, in hindsight. Cruel, unfair hindsight. There’s no knowing how things would have gone had this event never happened, or been handled appropriately from doctors to school to our own misguided trust in both.

But that’s not what this post is about, really, though it decided me on a course of action when I saw the date on my calendar, and all the silence from too many directions, including Christofer’s, hit me so hard I literally doubled over.

Silence has its place. It can be powerful. I’m a peacekeeper, by nature, and it takes a lot to get me riled up. As a writer, I pride myself on being able to see all sides of a situation through someone else’s eyes, as a way of understanding a character, and getting them right on the page. I also see the benefits of applying that to life, and the people who populate it. A mother’s knee-jerk reaction to defend her young is a difficult one to overcome, but I’ve always tried my best to step back, see the other perspective, and then act from a place of understanding, not just emotion.

This election season has been a tumultuous one. I feel strongly, passionately about my choice and why I’ve made it. While I respect other people’s right to an opinion, I don’t have to respect that opinion. Some of what I’ve read, written by people I truly love, like, admire, respect, has left me flattened. Just this morning, because of some comments left on several posts I made yesterday, I’d decided I was going to step away from the whole political thing. I’m not changing any minds. No one is changing my mind. And then I saw today’s date.

I will not be silent.

It might cost me friends, but I will not be silent.

Some family members might get pissed, but I will not be silent.

I could well lose readers of my work, but I will not be silent. Because it’s important enough to get this peacekeeper riled up.

Women, especially, are taught from early on, to be silent. To back down. To defer. Anyone who doesn’t see what’s going on with this election is, in my opinion, purposely and determinedly putting blinders on.

So, I will not be silent.



Filed under Political

In the Most Uncanny Places

I started writing this post several times over the last couple of months, but it seemed too strange, even for me. How to express this…comfort kept eluding me. I took a picture of this comfort, cropped it down, saved it, thinking it would help me settle my thoughts. But then I lost the pic somewhere in my stellar lack of computer skills. Ok, cosmos, thought I. Not time to write this yet.

And then I read a beautiful piece, written by a woman who lost her son, shared by another woman who’d lost her son, in part about the comforts we take that many won’t understand without having experienced the loss of a child. Cosmos, I get you.

img_1769 See? I told you it was strange. What the heck is it, right? I actually have no idea other than Chris did it years ago, when he and a friend were doing constant chemical experiments in our basement. He’d been cleaning up and, somehow, this got on the pedestal of the sink in his bathroom. He tried to get it off. I tried to get it off. It. Would. Not. Come. Off. It was annoying, then. Now, it comforts me in that uncanny way I’m having a hard time understanding.

I have pictures, writings, clothes, his backpack, wallet, school books. So many tangible things he touched, he created. But I see this mysterious smear of whatever chemical they’d been playing with whenever I go into his bathroom, and it makes me smile. It says, “I was here!” It comes with a specific memory of a time he was really happy. What used to annoy me now brings me comfort, because that whole incident would have been forgotten had I been able to clean it away.

It’s a strange thing to take comfort in, when I have so many other things at my disposal. My kids teased me, years ago, because I wouldn’t clean my grandson’s baby handprint from the sliding glass door. For months, it stayed there. It made me happy to see it. An automatic welling of adoration for that little pipsqueak hit me every time I spotted it. And now it’s the same with that smear on the sink pedestal.

And it’s not just the smear. It’s the sticker in Gracie’s room, the one she put on the wall when she wasn’t supposed to. It’s the circular marks on the hardwood floor in Scott’s room, from the coins that had been on the floor when he spilled something and never cleaned it up. It’s the wedding gown Jamie left here after she and Josh got married, still hanging in the closet. Annoyances turned into comfort. Proof that there was a time when simple, silly things like this actually mattered enough to vex me.




Filed under Life's honest moments

Tumbling down the rabbit hole…

(This is a weird one. I’m not sure what it even is. Don’t read too much into it.)

My spine stays stiff, arms open wide

My shoulders are boulders, my brain mostly fried

I’m a locket in a pocket

Care to see it? What’s inside?

It’s a heart, and not a picture.

One bleeding as it pumps.

Stand back, watch it bump

disrupted feelings to the ceilings

Hear it tHuMp, ThUmP, ThuMp

Healing reality, the newest casualty

On this train ride in my mind, so unkind

Stay behind, or take this ride to the end

Round the bend, watch me rend

My eyeballs from their sockets.



Filed under poetry

The unexpected kindness of social media

One impetus for going into Christofer’s phone myself was to access his Facebook account. I figured he’d have stored the password. At least, I hoped. Facebook policy is that they won’t release the log in and password under any circumstances without a court order. They’d be happy to suspend or even delete his account, but I couldn’t get in there.

I had many reasons for wanting to get into it, the primary reason, believe it or not, being to change his profile pic. He looked so sad. A selfie snapped when he was feeling trapped and abandoned and, to be brutally honest, like a failure. He’d gotten his dream job, moved away from home, started life on his own, and it wasn’t working out. In fact, it was crumbling completely. Why couldn’t he hold on to happiness? he asked. He told me once, it was kind of like drowning. Every once in a while he’d get his head out of water long enough to gulp at the air, then he was flailing underwater again, terrified he wouldn’t be able to kick back to the surface.

When I remember conversations like that, part of me (forgive me, sweetheart) is grateful he’s no longer flailing. It sinks me under, where he was. The difference is, my time under water is like his on the surface–fleeting.

I accessed his Facebook account, changed the password, took control. Today, I changed that profile picture. I also found beautiful messages left by friends after he was gone, and a video of him during the school play, back when he was eighteen (one of the golden years) that made me laugh and cry. It’s so good to have one of those times above water, immortalized in a blurry video. He was happy. He was goofy, and well liked. Loved. I have the proof when remembering the sad stuff tugs at my legs.


Years ago, when Jamie and Scottie were teens and Chris and Grace tweens, a friend with very small children said to me, “I want to have the same relationship  with my kids that you have with yours.” I felt so proud, so happy. I always had a great relationship with my kids. I was over-protective at times (Jamie even wrote an article recently, extolling my brand of crazy mom) but my kids didn’t just love me, they liked me. They were never embarrassed to hug me in public, to introduce me to friends, to tell me they love me, which they did/do often. I was never a “not MY child” mother, and they knew it. Just like they knew I’d never go an eye for an eye even if and when they were wronged. It was hard, when I wanted to rip someone’s head off for saying/doing/accusing something wrongfully. Sinking to another’s level is, in my opinion, giving them the victory no matter what the overt outcome. I always knew in my bones I was a good mother. And yet, having my friend say that about wanting the same relationship with her kids was the kind of validation I never knew meant anything to me, but it did. It meant so much.

Since Chris’ death, that beautiful comment has haunted me.

Then, just the other day, another friend left a comment for me on Facebook, in response to A Hurdle Crossed: “You inspire me in so many ways. I’m so glad the universe saw fit to draw a thread between our lives. You are the type of mom I strive to be.”

I burst into tears.

That someone I love, admire, and respect still feels that way about me hit me like that first compliment from the other dear friend all those years ago–I didn’t know it was validation I ever wanted, needed. Desperately needed.


This is, without question, the hardest, most heartbreaking stretch of road on my life’s journey. I’m weathering it better than the last stretch of darkest dark, strangely enough. That experience taught me things I’m using now to survive this, mentally intact. I don’t even want to know what this stretch is preparing me for, but I’m taking notes. I think you might be reading one right now.




Filed under Family, Life's honest moments

A hurdle crossed

I didn’t leap over it. I kind of crawled under it. But it’s done. Behind me.

I went through Christofer’s phone.

We got it back from the police station a few months ago. Cases had been tried, and sentenced. They were finally finished with it. I put it away, unable to look at it. I didn’t want to see what was in there. I couldn’t handle it. I promised it to Scottie, but figured it could wait. He had a newish phone, and he understood. Then he lost his phone. It was silly to buy a new one when I have this beautiful machine sitting here, waiting. That’s when it started, this need to see what was in there.

Scott found his phone, said he could wait on his brother’s. I told him, no–I wasn’t ready to see what was in there, but a guy at Dad’s work could back it all up, wipe it and I’d send it to him. That was supposed to happen yesterday. It didn’t.

So I did it this morning.

Frank went to play golf. It had been nudging me, to be honest. I wanted to be able to get at his Facebook; I knew he’d saved the password on his phone. Honestly, I wanted to see those last conversations, with my own eyes, today. And it just…happened.

I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know. My suspicions about the timeline of events was correct, as was my assumption of the conversation that led to my boy’s death. Assumptions of things going on in his life, with other people, came as no surprise. It broke my heart, and it made me happy. I saw what I already knew, in my head, in my heart. The only difference now is that I’m not supposing, but sure.

I deleted what needed deleting, saved what needed to be saved. There’s only one thing I need Frank’s computer guy to do for me–save the photos and video. I’m sure it’s a simple thing, but I couldn’t figure it out. I did delete a few, for reasons that shall go unmentioned. If you’re reading this and suspect it’s you, know all is well.

It’s done. I feel like I’ve been moving rocks. Big ones. Uphill. Sisyphean imagery intended. Because no matter what task I complete where this subject is concerned, it never changes anything, really. I’m still going to be happy, and sad. I’m still going to rage, and find peace. I’m still going to love him and miss him and be furious with him and understand him. I will still have questions that, even when answered, are not enough.




Filed under Family, Life's honest moments

Feeling Culinarily Accomplished

What did I do Sunday? Here, let me show you.

Fifty pounds of plum tomatoes made twenty-two jars of sauce, plus enough for the really outstanding clam sauce I made that evening. It took four hours, including the clam sauce. It was fun! And I feel accomplished, culinarily speaking.


Filed under Cooking, Uncategorized

And now, you’re five

“What do you want to be when you grow up, Will?”

“I know! An inventioneer.”

You’re still so brand new, only five years on the planet as the boy named William. You have light hair–not brown, not blond–and bluish green eyes. Your cheeks are round and you’ve a spattering of freckles across your nose. You are happy, and sometimes sad. You get overwhelmed, and sometimes cross. Your joy lights the world in a way only little boy joy can. Has there ever been such a perfect, magical little boy? Well, yes. I’ve had two of them, myself. But you are uniquely you, perfect and magical in a way only you can be.

And now, you’re five. Five. No longer a baby, or a toddler. You’re off into a world you have no clue about beyond the safe, nurturing, loving and limited boundaries of home. Mommy and Daddy. Gioiabean. You’re going to spread your magic, and make the world better. Teachers, new friends, lunch ladies and crossing guards and bus drivers will see your smile, feel your magic, and be changed. You’ll learn. The things you will learn! How numbers work together. How letters become words become stories you’ll be able to read and write all on your own. You’ll learn about the life cycle of butterflies, and how a seed becomes a flower, a carrot, a tree. You’ll begin learning how to navigate in the world so much bigger than you ever imagined in your baby brain.

And you’ll learn things aren’t fair, that might is sometimes right even when it’s not. You’ll learn that, just like you’re an individual who has not-blonde-not-brown hair who sometimes gets overwhelmed and cross, there are others just like you, and others very different. You’ll learn that some kids are kind and some are mean; some are happy and fun while others always want to be the boss. You’ll learn about fire drills and stranger danger and come to understand that, sometimes, our beautiful world is a dangerous place. You’ll learn that though you’re always a part of your family, you are, in fact, apart.

Now you’re five, Sweet William. Babyhood is behind you; you knock on childhood’s door and it swings wide in welcome. There will be smiles and there will be tears, frustrations and triumphs, so many lessons to learn. My not-blond-not-brown-haired, bluish green eyed boy, joy of my heart, magical child who is as willful as he is willing, my curious, loving, unique little grandson, I can’t wait to see all the things you will do, all the places you will go, how the world will be changed by you, and change you.

Happy birthday.






Filed under Family

Sometimes, the dark wins

Yesterday was International Overdose Awareness Day. A candlelight vigil had been planned, here in New Milford, to honor those who didn’t make it. I thought it might be something good to do, a solidarity kind of thing. As it turned out, it just pissed me off. There was no honoring the dead, except for a moment of silence. It was yet another version of Al-anon, people scrambling to do everything by the 12 steps that are going to save their child, their loved one. Platitudes and stories of recovery after heroin addiction. Heartfelt and desperate and relief sharpened to an edge so sharp it glistened.

Can you tell I’m bitter?

A young man got up and spoke. He’s been clean almost two years. I wanted to say, “Oh, child. It’s not over yet.” Then came the mother and her daughter. Mom spoke tearfully. Our experiences were similar. I heard myself, my life in her words. Then Daughter spoke, and she could have been Chris. She was actually the same age. They probably knew one another in High School. She’s been clean almost three years, and again I wanted to say, “Oh, child. It’s not over yet.”

Because heroin is the symptom, not the disease.

Chris battled and won his fight, too. Three years, heroin free. I won’t claim he didn’t do other stupid things in his never-ending attempt to quiet his demons, but heroin? No. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it every day of my life–He fought for happiness. Every. Single. Day. It’s not as if he spent every day of his life in abject misery. It was simply that the that darkness was always waiting in the wings, and he knew it.

I understand that these groups mean well, that they help some people hold it together, let them know they’re not alone. What bugs the shit out of me is that they do the same things, over and over, as if one of those times it’s going to take. And sometimes it does. Those who make it are the shining examples, the hope for us all, the proof we cling to that YES, this really works! And it makes families like mine failures. The pitiful ones who didn’t stick to the rules, and because they didn’t, failed. It breeds a mentality that allows the falls to keep happening.

Because heroin is the symptom, not the disease. 

I watched these people last night, I listened to their stories, and know down to my bones that their stories aren’t done. In the three years between Chris’ last roll with addiction to the day I found him on his bed, a needle on the mattress beside him, I thought we were one of those families who walked the dark road, and came out into the light. I smugly decried rehabs and AA, because we took the scientific path, and our way worked!

But, sometimes, the darkness wins anyway, no matter what path you take. It’ll keep winning until we stop rehashing the same platitudes and the “solutions,” convincing ourselves that our loved one will be the one in three (according to AA’s statistics) or one in fifteen (according to most other statistics) who will make it through.

We tread a different path, and didn’t save Chris. I’m fully aware. But it was a new path, one that bears exploring. A path that doesn’t treat addiction as the disease, but the symptom of something far more insidious, more deeply embedded; something that keeps taking the people we love because it has no name, no identity. A bogeyman no one wants to believe in. Because it’s the harder path, one with lots of monsters hiding in the fringes. Because there is no one answer that’s going to solve it all no matter how hard we cling to the desperate hope that it is.




Filed under Family, Life's honest moments