Sunday, September 29, 2013

E is for Eden

E is for Eden, as in Sarah M. Eden. 
 She's a historical romance author with an uncanny knack for twisting fairy tales into stories worthy of Austen's pen. My absolute favorite is Seeking Persephone, or as I like to call it Beauty and the Beast meets Pride and Prejudice. 

On paper, Mrs. Eden intertwines witty dialogue and lovable characters. A twist here, a turn there but eventually the boy happily sweeps the girl off her feet - along with the reader. But behind Sarah's written word, is another world altogether.
In her home, away from the adoration of fans and critics, she battles a painful illness. At book signings she's unable to grasp the pen for a simple autograph.
Little by little, I've become aware of her downward struggle. But it wasn't until I read this that I began to better understand the woman behind the words. 

I have seven of her books nestled on my shelf, with another on my nightstand. Each story is a gift, a piece of her. As my novel is a part of me. Through the weeks and months of writing and editing, those pages have become more of my flesh than my own skin.

I am more than two states away and unable to sooth her pain. But I can help her feel appreciated, loved. I can tell others of her gifts, her stories. She cannot run, or even stand. But through her characters we can laugh and smile together. 

Dear Sarah, you are not alone. And because of your literary talent, you never will be.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

C is for Clarissa, D is for Death

Technically, I should contribute two separate posts. One for each letter. But these two posts were intertwined. Inseparable.
I was named Clarissa just over 32 years ago. It was a family name and I loved the originality. But I had a secret. There wasn't a member of my family that called me Clarissa. I was Christopher Columbus, Chris, Krissy Bell... and finally my two favorite, Clariss and Lariss. Uncle Ray and Aunt Sally called me both. In the world, I was plain, forgettable. 
Except to them. 
Uncle Ray taught me Chess. He gave me my first taste of ancient literature - Homer's Odyssey. There wasn't a question unanswered, an opinion too small. He was my champion. 

Death stole him exactly a year ago.
My parents and I visited him in the final hours, and true to form he never let me forget my worth. I've glanced at these photos from his funeral and try to remember his life as opposed to his death. But Death is funny that way. The funeral doesn't stop the memories, nor does it lessen the pain. Although the balm of time slowly heals the wounds, it doesn't change the desire for one more conversation, one more joke. 

I couldn't write about being Clarissa, without writing about Uncle Ray. A house couldn't stand without its walls. And therein lies the problem. Death convinces us of her finality. The memories and love endure to both tempt and comfort those left behind. But then I remember, I'm Clarissa, the niece of a great man. Death may have ripped him from my grasp, but she's no match for his legacy. Or my memories.

B is for Boy

Babies, kittens and puppies typically top the Lovable List. But nothing can produce more tears and tissues than watching a boy grow to a man - except, watching that same boy love his mother.
Nine years ago a blonde-haired, blue-eyed scrawny kid asked why I didn't work. Why I was just a mom at home, clearly it wasn't something I would chose. Why would anyone want that?
That same child became our steady babysitter, opting out of friend filled nights to stay with my three little girls. Those three sets of pigtails adore him. But none as much as my four year old. She's particular about who is in her inner circle. There is no bribe, no incentive that will allow someone in. She simply decides if you're worthy. And her boy, Taylor Olson, has always been.
That boy volunteered to serve a cause bigger than himself for two years. We watched him hug his family and friends, wishing them well and godspeed. But it wasn't until he embraced his mother, the woman who guided his tender heart, that the world stilled. The impossible chain from a mother to a son is something exquisite to behold. It inspired a re-dedication to my role as mother. All for the hope that one day my child's face will be washed in the same adoration as Tayor's did today.
As we watched the plane fade into the sky, my youngest whispered, "He's never coming back." In a way, she's right. The boy who straddled the threshold of manhood will never return. But the man seasoned by two years of tedious work will return to my four year old. But more importantly, he'll return to his mother's arms. A day worth waiting for.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A is for Arthur

With a mischievous giggle, my middle daughter announced, "I'm Arthur!" Not to be confused with an author. This is the same child who refused to be called anything other than Toby for nearly two years - and Toothless (How to Train your Dragon, anyone?) for a year prior.
"And why are you Arthur?" I asked. No, I did not stop making dinner or even sit down for this conversation. It's a routine stop on her daily ramblings. Fairy tales are mere baby food when it comes to the stories we're asked to swallow from this imaginative seven-year-old.
"Well, Clarissa Kae, is taken. So what else am I supposed to go by?" Yes, she rolled her eyes like a teenager before slapping her recently finished book on the counter. "I'm an author. Besides, everyone thinks I'm cute. I don't want to be cute,  I want to be an author."
I should be appalled and pontificate to my child the error in her thinking. But she's right. In the world she's painted today (with her set of rules for this particular day), you can't be cute and be an author. Tomorrow is another day. Another story.
There are stacks upon stacks of books rich with vibrant characters and fantastic worlds - each penned by a recently chosen nom de plume.
At night, when children are  lulled to sleep by stories whispered from an adult voice and written with an adult hand, my daughter tells me her story, her version of the day. There are seven-year-old giggles just before the punchline or gasps before the surprise. But it is creative. It is beautiful.
I'm grateful for my Arthur. 
And Toby, Toothless, Rose...and whoever I'll meet tomorrow.