Mother X

"Your writing your way out of hell helps us all. Please keep writing."... read more

We Are On Our Way There (4)

Continues from “We Are On Our Way There (3)”In trying to remember that night, I’ve misplaced a bit of time. In not wanting to go back, I got ahead of myself.At 1:57 a.m. I texted: Please respond… How many times have I written these words to her?...more

We Are On Our Way There (3)

Continues from “We Are On Our Way There (2)” Sitting next to Jo on the couch, I made myself stare at the screen as if the addictive magic of TV might eventually work. I tried hard to lose myself again in Alias—the unlikely action series that couldn’t be farther from my life, a life hijacked by parenting my adorable, impossible teenager....more

We Are On Our Way There (2)

Continues from “We Are On Our Way There (1)” I’ve been avoiding writing what happened next that Friday night, knowing it will lead me back to what happened after that. Over seven months of avoidance and here I am, facing a blank page. I don’t want to write this—I need to write it, and I’m learning just how far apart wanting and needing can be from each other....more

We Are On Our Way There (1)

(Continues from “Three Days”) After the first frost, Jo spreads straw over the strawberry bed and I clear collapsed morning glory vines from the front of our house. I eat the last three blackberries while circling our garlic beds, already safe under straw. Jo starts up the woodstove for the first time this season and I make a sweet tomato sauce with garlic and onions, cumin and curry, cayenne, cinnamon, and the last of our harvest. Stirring the red pot, I glance out the window. Bright leaves dance their last stunning, spiraling dance to the ground....more

The Trouble with Pudding

I try to look away from the cheerful orange, yellow, and tan plastic containers so innocently perched in the dairy section. Averting my gaze as if from a wound, I escape nothing. Olivia’s love for rice pudding slows my pace, as if my parenting autopilot still runs me. Since she left, her favorite dessert is a food I cannot eat. I aim my cart toward the yogurt section as if about to make an important decision. Through tears, my vision sharpens. Here I go again. Not now, damn it. Not here. I laugh out loud—an abrupt exhale....more
*sniff*more

The Invitation

These notebooks with their ragged handwriting began as a letter to myself, then became a letter to another mother with a daughter, then another with a son, then a father with a son, and then, somehow, a letter to the world—to any parent who might be hungry, like me, to feel a little less alone. I keep writing to unravel the past five years in which I’ve felt so lost, and lost so much—of myself, my child, a dream of family. I write with blind faith....more

Poll Nailish

It’s early September. Olivia would have been starting her senior year. For the first time since she was a small child, I’m not part of the back to school shopping rituals. Instead, I pass by the rows of school supplies and clothing that all calls to me—the fat pencils for small hands, the trendy clothes for teenage bodies, the bright bedding sets for dorm-bound freshmen. For an instant, I stop in front of a display of lunch boxes on sale. Finally, the perfect thermos for Olivia’s hot Chai to go… And then I remember. What am I doing?...more

Three Days

After that first, warm, early spring-like day—that last family therapy session on our little patio—when Olivia announced she wanted to finish the 11th grade in the coming eight weeks then move to her father’s a state away and drop out of high school, I walked around in a trance for three days. I washed dishes, drove, taught class, shopped for groceries, and finished cleaning the bathroom sink just in time to greet the therapist when she arrived for her last session alone with Olivia....more

The Agreement

That day on the front porch, the rocking chair still rocked as Olivia reclined as far back as she could and then slid her sunglasses down over her eyes to look at me. It was the end of April. She was so beautiful—that young woman who hated me. My gaze lingered on the spark of silver hoops like moons dangling beneath her ears. Then I studied her short square toes. She stretched her left foot and there was her father’s Baryshnikov arch. That day on the front porch, the rocking chair still rocked as Olivia reclined as far back as she could and then slid her sunglasses down over her eyes to look at me. It was the end of April. She was so beautiful—that young woman who hated me. My gaze lingered on the spark of silver hoops like moons dangling beneath her ears. Then I studied her short square toes. She stretched her left foot and there was her father’s Baryshnikov arch. ...more

I Do Not Buy Apples

Such redness stings. Crates of hearts, they stop me in the market. I dumbly stare at the repeating bulbs, fields of pain. I do not eat apples but always buy them. A house without her favorite fruit is strangely empty of something essential even if it sings with laughter, laughter that she cannot hear, laughter that cannot turn the corners of her chewing mouth into a reluctant smile, not even a little. I do not buy apples....more