Still here – old memories and feelings of guilt

I received a surprise Facebook private message two mornings ago that brought up a lot of old memories of our deceased son Paul and many old feelings of guilt about what I could have done to save him. Even though he's been gone from our lives for almost eighteen years, those things can come up without warning any time of day or night. The note, I'm sure, didn't intend to promote those old feelings. It was a lovely compliment about my book and how my book will help the writer with her work as a therapist. However, when I read it at four in the morning, I was through sleeping for the rest of the night. Here's the message I received from a young woman who was in Paul's high school class at Crossroads in Santa Monica. I don't remember ever meeting her until she asked me to be her Facebook friend a few weeks ago. "For seven years Leaving the Hall Light On was on my Amazon wish list because I graduated from Crossroads with Paul. When we found out at our reunion that he had died fr … [Read more...]

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May flowers and memories (small stones)

I just finished my tenth month writing small stones. The only break was during  my husband's Grand Canyon accident and recovery in November - December 2016. Here are my May small stones, including a couple of photos I posted with the words. By the way, the admin of the small stones  Facebook page, Ger O Neill, creates a new name for our group every month. Last month the name was May flowers and memories. This month we're writing Jewels of June. May flowers and memories May Day and the beginning of mental health month. A great day for people watching and writing at a little café. Congress is trying to decimate mental health care. If they pass the amended American Health Care Act (AHCA), millions of Americans will lose their mental health coverage. Please tell your congress representatives to vote No on AHCA. How can so many things in my house go wrong at the same time? My stove cooktop, a water heater, and dryer are all dead. And service people are nowhere in sight. Frus … [Read more...]

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Introducing Patti Hawn, author of Good Girls Don’t

A few weeks ago two friends told me about Patti Hawn and suggested I meet her. After all, she lives in my hometown, she’s written a memoir, and she’s about my age. Without missing a beat, I sent her a private message on Facebook and suggested we get together. And she accepted and named one of my favorite restaurants where we could grab lunch  - I liked her already. We met for lunch a few days later (a blind date, so to speak), and we talked for an hour and a half without stopping. We also exchanged memoirs. Thus a beautiful new friendship was born. I read Patti’s memoir, Good Girls Don’t, almost immediately and was taken by how detailed and intimate it is (I’ve shared my review at the end of this post). So I asked her if she’d write a guest post for Choices about how she wrote her deeply personal memoir with such clarity.   Here’s Patti: The Gift of Memories By Patti Hawn I wrote my book Good Girls Don’t shortly after reuniting with the son I surrendered to adoption … [Read more...]

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Author David Berner discusses writing about our lives

Our Choices guest today, David Berner, shares with us the essence of memoir writing. He tells us what it is not - a series of diary entries that relate every detail of a life - and what it is - a story that begins with a moment rounded out with the details related to that moment. My memoir Leaving the Hall Light On, begins with the moment of my son's suicide. The rest of the book details the events leading up to that moment and its aftermath. David Berner's memoir, Any Road Will Take You There, starts with a five-thousand mile road trip  that enables him to find peace and fulfillment in being a dad after a series of heartbreaking and life-changing personal events. Please welcome David Berner. Making the Choice to Write About Your Life by David Berner A woman came up to me after a workshop I conducted several years ago about writing memoir. She held in her hand a thick manuscript and told me she was writing about her life, one full of adventures, one she wanted to share. “I’ve star … [Read more...]

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Memoir – a way of keeping a loved one alive

Before I had any inkling that I would write my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living withHer Son’s Bipolar and Surviving His Suicide, I wrote to keep the memory of my oldest son Paul alive. It was almost an obsession. I continually wrote down everything I could remember. I didn’t want to forget one thing about him. Possibly his last photo   It turns out my notes and journal entries were a huge help when I began to put my memoir together. My journals – even short entries – informed and rounded out my writing immensely. What else is memoir but memories? Here is a list of memories I wrote down in the early days after Paul’s death. I’m especially glad to have them this month – my birthday month – one of the times I miss him the most. I’ll always remember he slept without closing his eyes all the way I’ll always remember he walked fast and way ahead of us I’ll always remember he had long, thick, black eyelashes surrounding clear … [Read more...]

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What I Miss

Paul loved playing the piano What I Miss Twelve years didn’t erase him. He is still with me everyday. The memories haven’t dimmed. I clearly see his face, his clear blue eyes, his buzzed hair in my mind. I miss hearing him play his music as his bent fingers lightly trickled up and down the keyboard. I miss hearing his footsteps on the stairs and hardwood floors as he prowled around the house at night. I miss hearing his deep voice as he said, “hello” when he came home from work I also miss his expertise. He solved our computer problems at night leaving carefully written instructions in his childish printing for us to find the next morning. I don’t miss his smoking, I don’t miss his bad moods during his last few years, I don’t miss that his sickness sometimes made him angry and me angry at him. No, I don’t miss those things. But, I don’t think about them. I just think about the things about him that I miss. 2008, 2011 … [Read more...]

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