Weekly Wrap: Our Signs

by Susan Henderson on March 23, 2007

Monday, when I announced it was my birthday week, I never ever imagined I might get a book deal as a birthday present. I can’t share all the details just yet, but I did accept an offer on my novel the other night. The offer came out of the blue and I’m still stunned and overwhelmed and beyond grateful. For my friends who’ve been trying so hard in this business and waiting for luck to happen, I wish this same feeling for you because there’s nothing like the sense of validation that the stories you’ve needed to tell and the hard work and sacrifices you’ve made to tell those stories mattered.

I promise I’ll give you details very soon, but I will drop a hint about who’s taking my book. If you live in NYC, this is the building where my people work.


If you’re a LitPark regular, I know you’ve been missing Lance Reynald who’s been on hiatus from his monthly Reynald’s Rap. But today he’s going to do the honors and give the weekly wrap. Take it away, wondertwin:

When semantics won’t do.

This week in Litpark has been both difficult and inspiring. I have been greatly touched, comforted and influenced by the sharing I have seen from all of you.

Grief is very fresh with me right now. I lost my father to a heart attack on February 19th. Just a month ago, and I am just beginning to feel my own skin and see through the fog and numbness of the loss. I know that what I feel as some hope and future returning to my world is but the beginning of living with the sadness I still feel.

Grief is certainly not new to me. I’ve known loss before. At different points of my life. I lost my best friend to an overdose at the age of nineteen, a lover to suicide at twenty-three, my mother to cancer at thirty-two. Each time the experience was different, and each time I emerged feeling fundamentally changed. I am thirty-six years old and face the world knowing that four beings that have formed the capacity of my heart have left this world. A challenging notion, a sadness to live with.

I talk to them all often. Lately it seems daily. I wonder if they are together, I like to think that they are. I like to believe that they watch together, giving strength to one another’s hopes and dreams for me and watching out for the hopes and dreams I have for myself.

My Father’s passing dealt me the most fatal blow of grief I’ve ever felt. The greatest darkness and worst despair. Robin is very true in her comment that the loss of your parents brings you into the world of being an adult. I realized that I’d passed through a door, now fully accountable with no one left to answer to. I also realized there was no one left to call. Yes, I have my friends and loved ones. But, a parent is who you call for a certain acceptance, to share good news or to get advice when you need that sharing with someone that has invested a life in doing the best they know how to do for you. A relationship you are born into, not one you have made at all, not like the others.

The loss disrupted my balance, changed my world. I felt suicidal everyday for the first few weeks. I was certain I would never write again. But, more than anything I just wanted to get my Dad on the phone, ask him what I should do. Left with the dream that I know every grieving child is left with, the proverbial one more day.

I also went through a period of anger, with this thing that is grief. I keep company with my contemporaries, all wordsmiths. All those that know grief, in many forms. Yet, somehow we all find it impossible to put to words. I felt as though I was facing my grief with no warning whatsoever. Nothing I’d ever read or heard prepared me for a period that I’ve thought purgatory, hell on earth. We, writers, possess the skill to create entire lives and worlds making our experiences over and crafting with words, but”¦ I’d never seen words to prepare me for the feelings that this grief brought to me. I have to admit it, I felt a bit betrayed.

A couple of weeks in I got a note from another writer, a note I will always treasure. She too had lost her father, and offered these words:

…now that your father has passed over to the other side, lots of people are going to give lots of advice.

They’re going to tell you that in time everything will make sense, and that in time you will stop hurting. But this is not true – and that’s why it doesn’t help when they say it. There will never, from this day forward, be a day that is better because your father isn’t here. You will never stop missing him, this will never make sense. This will not be okay. That is the truth.

The other, bigger truth is that you will learn to manage your pain. You will learn how to take it down, as if off a shelf, and you will marvel at it, and when it’s time to go join the real world, you will be able to put back up on that shelf, where it will wait for you.

It is not a question of the pain dissolving, so much as re-arranging. You will be able to bear this. YOU WILL. But do not look to “move on.” You will always miss him. He will always miss you. I believe in a great hereafter, and I believe we will all be joined again one day. So I focus on that, and I wait too.

I hope this seems ok to say to you – from one human with a missing father to another. I don’t know why we will make it through the bizarre choreography of life, these insane turns of events – I just know that we will.

In the darkness and despair of what I was feeling, those words felt like the only true thing I’d heard in weeks. Another writer, another grieving child. A friend.

Words that spoke truth to the feelings I was having; giving me some hope that I would find a way out of my despair.

I am so very proud of all of you for having the love, courage and strength to share like you have this week. I’d also like to add that you have all managed to find the words that I thought had been missing from the world of literature just a month ago”¦ You are all the most beautifully gifted wordsmiths I’ve come across, I’m honored to share this space with you and my life is better because of you.

Wishing you all the peace and love you deserve!

Thank you-

Lance Reynald


I know I’m not the only one here who loves Lance, but since it’s my blog, I get to say it first. Thank you for what you wrote. And thank you to Noria, Carolyn, Grant, Betsy, Jim, Shelley and Aurelio for letting us know your moms and dads just a little bit.

And here’s to all of you who shared your birthdays:

dennis mahagin
Carol Novack

A. S. King
Ric Marion
Shelley Marlow
Bruce Hoppe

me (Sunday I’ll be 40 – but if you knew my friends who’ve already turned 40 and 50 and 60, you’d understand why I’m not scared of big numbers. Besides, each day is the youngest we’ll ever be again, so we might as well enjoy it, eh?)
Gayle Brandeis (Gayle, you share a birthday with my friends, Mike and Ritchie. It’s a good day to be born.)

Carolyn Burns Bass
Brandon Hobson
Jason Boog
Mary Akers

mikel k poet
Julie Ann Shapiro
Larissa Shmailo
Sarah Roundell
Aida Wojcik

Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Terry Bain

Robin Slick
Kris Yankee
Malcolm Campbell

Ronlyn Domingue
Grant Bailie

Lori Oliva
Lance Reynald
n.l. belardes
Claudia Smith

Myfanwy Collins
Simon Haynes
Ellen Meister
Alexi Lykissas

Mark Bastable
Amy Kiger-Williams

Laini Taylor

See you Monday with some details.


Question of the Week: Zodiac

by Susan Henderson on March 19, 2007

Rest in peace, Cletus. xoxo


Sunday is my birthday, so today’s question is, What’s your sign, and what’s your age? Come on, be brave.


Wednesday you’ll see something that developed in the comments section a few months ago, when several of you mentioned that you’d lost your parents, and I encouraged those of you who were interested to put a little something together about that.

It seems like a week talking about birthdays might also be a time to remember the people whose birthdays still come and go and remind us of their impact on our lives. As you’re typing in your sign and age, feel free to type in the sign and age of anyone you’re missing.