Struggling With A Dual Reality

It’s been two years and four months since my son died.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with this dual reality my life has taken on. There was my life before and now my life after. The problem with after is before still intrudes. It’s still very much part of this new life; it’s the foundation, really.

Except we can’t focus on before and wish for what we can’t have, so our only option is to forge ahead, keep moving along this new path. Until four months ago, the second anniversary of my son’s death, that new path was shadowed by his ghost.

But now our new life is truly, entirely new. Everything we do, everything we experience from this point forward has never occurred before. He didn’t make it past this point. My daughter will be our first to finish seventh grade; first to start eighth grade. First to reach her fourteenth birthday. Every single day is a first, for the rest of her life.

One of the biggest struggles along this new path is the guilt. Because it’s true what “they” say: it does get easier. It gets easier because we think about it less. There’s really no choice; life charges on, whether we want to stay stagnant and drown in our memories or not. And eventually, we get caught up in life, and we think about those who are gone less and less. Even if we don’t want to let go.

Don’t be fooled into thinking they are ever very far away, though. They still regularly intrude on this new life, often in unexpected ways. Sometimes I see a toddler, going about his merry way, and he does something that reminds me of my son. The other day, in church, it was actually a little girl. She kept digging in her mom’s purse, pulling out small packages of fruit chews. Just like my son used to do.

Sometimes it’s a parent of one of his friends, posting something on Facebook about high school, driver’s training, homecoming, a first job; pretty much any step they take in life, that my son will never get to experience. The other day my husband and I had a conversation about high school graduation: when his friends graduate, will we go? Can we handle it? Do we want to put ourselves through that, what will be a day of celebration, happiness, joy, pride–for all those other parents?

We didn’t have the answers.

Sometimes it’s another death, someone’s parent or spouse. Very occasionally it’s the death of another child. Someone reaches out—another friend of theirs is suffering the same fate my family had, and they thought I might be able to help in some way.

Sometimes it’s simply life.

Did you know July is Bereaved Parents Awareness Month? I had no idea, and I’ve been part of that club for over two years now. I did a little research about it when I was thinking about writing this blog post. Just a little, though. Lord, it’s hard to read those stories. It’s a dual pain—I hate it for those other parents and I hate stirring up my own memories that are best left tucked away in the dark recesses of my mind, where they don’t make me cry. Not all the time, anyway.

But they are always still there, no matter what I do, where I go, what I think, what I wish. I can’t ever escape, not entirely. I can go for long bouts without thinking about them, but eventually they will surface, insist upon rearing their ugly, sad, depressing head. Which aren’t really ugly, sad, and depressing. Most of those memories are fun, wonderful, cheerful, sweet, any number of positive emotions.

Until I remember that this is all I have: memories. Old memories. Past memories. There will be no new ones.

And when that happens, all I really can do is cry. Seriously, there is no other cure. Having a wallowing in self-pity cry is the only way to shoo those memories back to where they belong, so I can continue on this journey called life.

I guess I don’t need to feel that guilt after all, do I?

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Tami Lund writes depressing blog posts as an outlet for the pain of losing her child. She also writes romance because she craves a happy ending, more so now that she’s suffered the sort of pain she often puts her characters through. Her next release is Dragon His Heels: A Bad Alpha Dads Romance.

 

Walking is good for writing

In our never-ending quest for fitness, Saturday Joe and I went for a walk at Baumann Park, which is in Cherry Valley, Illinois. If you are a nature-y type person, if you lurrrrrve the great outdoors…you’d love this place and quite honestly, I cannot recommend it highly enough.IMG_20180707_132307

The Kishwaukee River runs alongside the park. Sometimes the water level is extremely low and the river sluggish. However, right now, due to the monsoonish rains we have experienced over the last month, the water is quite high and the current is very brisk. Over the years, it used to be a virtual hotbed for summertime tubing but since they don’t let you bring alcohol onto the river anymore, it doesn’t seem that people are planning exciting floating quests downstream anymore. It’s almost as if there’s a connection between summertime water activities and liquor.

I digress.

The weather has been so perfect lately in Rockford that we knew when we got out of bed on Saturday that it was going to be picture-perfect for a walk—80 and sunny. On the way there I downloaded a “pacer” app since my Fitbit Flex refuses to sync with my new phone. #getanewone

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There are paved walking paths that circle Baumann Lake. The lake is not all that big. The paths go all around the lake and one pass from start to finish is approximately a mile. The back half of the path winds through trees so just about the time the sun becomes too much for you, you have some shaded areas for a bit.

I had to take some pictures to share with everyone.IMG_20180707_132117

Families with picnic lunches and fishing poles dot the shores, and lots of picnic tables and benches. There are fishing limits there (not sure what they are) and you can only bring night crawlers for bait and the water is gorgeous to look at while you’re walking. Tons of people were fishing while we were there, and lots of people walk their dogs as well.IMG_20180707_131719

My husband and I have good chats on our walk, and sometimes just companionable silence which allows me time to spin crazy ideas for books, or noodle out plot holes. I know writers out there who agree with me that walking is one of the best things you can do for your writing. You can figure out so much as you stroll along.

Although the second lap around is a teensy bit harder than the first—the smallest incline is like climbing Mt. Everest—we finish and according to my new app, it’s about 2.8 miles and a little over 7500 steps, and takes us a smidge over an hour.

I wish finishing a book would only take an hour.

Alas.

 

 

 

 

Three Sexy FBI Reads for 99 cents Each!

Check this out: I just discovered a few of my earlier books have been dropped to only 99 cents. Didn’t know it was happening, and no idea how long it will last, so my advice to you is: Grab ’em now, just in case.

Why?

Well, 99 cents is a steal for a full-length, good-quality book. Also, these books are romantic suspense with a touch of funny, so bonus!

They’re part of the Tough Love series. The first in the series is Naked Truth, and yes, Jack’s undercover assignment as a stripper was inspired by the movie Magic Mike.

Do you really blame me for putting that experience into a book? I didn’t think so.

So Jack’s an FBI agent who’s gone undercover as a male stripper, trying to catch a serial killer who’s targeting said strippers. Right before his assignment, he meets a good girl at a friend’s wedding and convinces her to have a one-night stand.

Except he wants more. But his job–not surprisingly–is getting in the way. Especially when the killer sets his sights on…Kennedy, the girl Jack may or may not have fallen in love with.

After you’ve devoured that 99 cent read, you’re gonna want to pick up the second in the series, Undercover Heat. This one, by the way, won a RONE Award in 2016. So yeah, it’s well worth your time and attention.

(Here’s the funny blog post I wrote about winning the award and giving an impromptu speech: Awards & Sexy Shoes.)

In Undercover Heat, Kyra and Quinn are both FBI agents and their undercover assignment is to… act like a married couple to ferret out a Ponzi scheme crook who has bilked people out of millions of dollars all across the country. Problem is, Kyra and Quinn can’t stand each other. Well, at least initially. But underneath all that loathing is a serious dose of lusty attraction that becomes too damn, er, hard to resist.

When their newly discovered desire threatens to blow the case, what are they gonna do?

(PS – a large part of the reason this book is so good is because Quinn is a fabulous broody hero with a very deeply hidden heart of gold. I’m pretty sure he is my favorite of all the heroes I’ve written.)

And lastly, we have Delicious Deception. It’s a slight change from Naked Truth and Undercover Heat because the hero, Connor, is actually wanted for questioning by the FBI. Oh yeah, and he’s sleeping with Jack’s (from Naked Truth) sister. So yeah, things aren’t looking so good for our hapless beta hero in this one, which I think may be the funniest of the three, thanks to the back and forth between Connor and Jack.

Three great summer reads for only three bucks. And like I said, I have no idea how long they will be so cheap, so get to clicking. And enjoying! Three cheers for sexy FBI heroes (and Connor…)!

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Tami Lund writes angsty FBI heroes and sexy chefs, when she’s not drinking wine and winning awards, at any rate. Want more? Check out her website: http://tamilund.com/

We got some weather

I used to absolutely love thunderstorms. The heavy feel of the air pressing down on my body when I stood outside sniffing at the air, knowing a humdinger of a storm was on its way. The bruised color of the sky as the storm moved into our area and the smell of the pending rain all around me. The way it got darker and darker outside, as if it were nighttime, instead of 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon and the delicious sound of the far off thunder.

And then, there was the spectacular moment the heavens opened up, lightening cracking across the sky while I watched from inside the house, mesmerized at the heavy rain and hoping the electricity doesn’t go out. I mean, I lived for thunderstorms where I could doze on the couch, with that storm sound in the background, a lovely white noise.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Storms relaxed me, but not anymore.

I watch the weather forecasts now while biting my nails down to the quick and not even realizing it. If weather heads into our area, I find different websites that offer radar readings, and compare each one to where we are on the map. One says 1-2 inches possible. Another says it’s going to barely clip our area. Another says to take shelter immediately. Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

I’m simultaneously swallowing coffee and Xanax*. I want to be relaxed enough to enjoy the lovely but severe weather but alert enough to be able to get down the basement stairs when and if the tornado alarm goes off.  Anxiety always wins and the coffee ends up aggravating it.

Back then, when I enjoyed the storms, it was all about lighting a few candles in case the power goes out. Now, it’s about making sure that not only are the candles lit…but that we have flashlights, our most important documents in a baggie (think passports and birth certificates and the new book I haven’t read) and enough dry towels to mop up the seepage that will start coming in from the walls and window wells soon enough. You see, we have been burned before: the first time while Joe was visiting me in Plainfield in 2006.

In 2006, Rockford was deluged with rain on Labor Day. It flowed like a raging river into the back of our house while he was sitting in my Plainfield living room, blissfully unaware. It broke out two basement windows and flooded the entire basement. Five feet of water in the basement and goodbye to the water heater, washer, dryer, and of course furnace.

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Photo by Genaro Servín on Pexels.com

Rinse and repeat that in 2007 although not as bad…The window wells flooded, the walls seeped, and we mopped up water for two days before our honeymoon and ended up sleeping away the entire first 24 hours of our trip to Mexico.

Repeat again in 2009, when sadly the train tracks were washed away in Cherry Valley and the train derailed. The storm sewer crossed with the drains somehow, we got six inches of rain dumped on us, and I don’t know what the hell happened but suddenly we had storm water surging up through every drain in our basement. We lost that fight as well as our water heater again. Two sump pumps later and it still took weeks to clean up from that mess. We were lucky compared to most…our basement is not finished so we’re working with cement that can be easily mopped.

We put in a real sump pump that year.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Since we’ve been burned so badly, when the weather threatens and there’s a chance that we could get some bad storms now—meaning lots of rain—my gut churns and my heart jumps into my throat. Although I still enjoy a good thunderstorm, I also get that sinking feeling that something is going to happen to our basement; either windows will break out and we’ll have a huge disaster on our hands, or spend hours squeegeeing and sponging and drying up our basement for days on end.  Storms don’t hold the same appeal anymore.

However, since I’m from the Midwest, in Illinois, I of course will stand on the porch until the last second, until the twister is practically in our front yard before I’ll hightail it to the basement. I mean, dude. I did used to live in Tornado Alley.

As I get older now, I have to balance that “hold my beer” mentality against how fast I can make it down the stairs with a knee that sounds like Rice Krispies.

Having said that, lest you think I’m irresponsible, I would like to also point out that I am down in the basement long, long moments before my husband believes we’re in imminent enough danger that he deigns to come down the stairs. He normally just stands at the top of the stairs and laughs at me for being down there with the TV blaring warning sounds. Yuck it up, Huckleberry. We’ll see who’s laughing when you’re sucked up into the sky along with the basement door, a’la Twister.

Until then, I’ll cower downstairs, thanking God that we have a cozy basement to bunker down in, and wait for the all clear.

So I can mop up the water.