Mother's Day 2020
My mom passed away on July 7, 2018, and this Mother's Day, May 10th, was my second one without her.
I have a lot of mixed feelings regarding this holiday. In most ways, I'm sad not to have a mother to celebrate with, of course; I miss her dearly and think of her every day. In some ways, I'm glad for her because she was very sick and now she is, I believe, well and at peace. And I'm a little angry, too, because she took herself away from me, because my mom was only 57 years old when she passed, too young to be gone. She's supposed to be in the prime of her life right now: daughter married and out of the house, she at retirement age, able to travel or take up a new hobby or an old hobby or, hell, a lover (my parents were divorced, don't worry). My mother was gorgeous and smart and funny and had a strong personality. She could have been so many more things. Unfortunately, she's mostly remembered by those who knew her as a depressed alcoholic.
In my novel, We Are Eternal, my main character, Olive Grant, loses her father in a car accident. Left with her mother, a severe alcoholic, and her younger sister to care for, the 17-year-old is thrust into a world of responsibility she neither expected nor wanted. York Lively, my male protagonist, rescues her, not from her situation, but from her own head, making her want to open up, see the world, be alive and happy despite her troubled home life. I would be lying if I said I didn't glean at least a bit of Olive's experiences from my own.
My dad is still very much alive, and I have no siblings. However, several scenes in my novel are lifted almost directly from my life with my mom. I completed this novel four years before she died, and at the time it was therapy for me. My mom was an inspiration to me in many ways, good and bad.
Though it's unfortunate we went through some of the same moments I wrote about in We Are Eternal, I believe many, many incredible works of literature and art have come from bad times, from pain, from horrendous circumstances. In that light, I thank my mom. I also thank her for giving me my love of reading, for sitting with me to practice my ABC's at an early age, for encouraging my bibliophilia, for championing any and all writing projects I told her about, and for essentially making me the writer I am today. My published novel, and all my other works, wouldn't exist without her positive and negative influence on my life. This blog, and the words you're reading right now, probably would not exist.
Olive Grant still has her mother in my story, and at the end there's a faint glimmer of hope that her mother might straighten out her life and get help. It's the ending I wanted for myself and my mom.
And, hey, I'm the mastermind behind all this -- I can paint whatever life I want to.