Miss Murder Gets Candid

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Shane D. Keene interviewed me on Shotgun logic, and it was a blast! Oh, wait. That was a terrible and unintentional pun. Anyway, I really dug the interview.

I didn’t have my filter on and talked about grief, the horrors of writing Little Dead Red, my excitement about Gamut, and how I don’t like being told to girlie up an anthology.

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I hope you’ll swing by and read it. It’s one of my favorite interview to date. 🙂

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An Open Letter: Alobar Holoprosencephaly

Seija

 

Dear Beautiful Stranger,

You found my blog by searching for the phrase “should i hold my holoprosencephaly baby after birth”.  My heart goes out to you, love.  I’m pretty sure that your heart is breaking right now.

I know you’ve been researching the diagnosis like crazy. I’m also pretty sure that you were as terrified of the pictures as I was. I couldn’t understand this crazy disease and what it meant for my child. I knew it was a death sentence. I knew, when I looked at the unusual faces of these children with alobar holoprosencephaly that they couldn’t survive. That their bodies wouldn’t be strong enough. I knew it was a gift to let them slip away, but knowing that didn’t make it any easier.

You’re going through your pregnancy knowing that you’ll lose your child. You’re suffering through the sickness, the aches, the nightmares, and the emotional pain without the promise of bringing home a baby at the end. You’ll deliver a baby in order for it to die. And when the pain of pregnancy is at its worst, you’ll think to yourself, “I can’t wait until this baby is born!” And then you’ll immediately crumple in shame, because by wishing for its birth you are, in a sense, wishing for its death.

It isn’t that way, love. It isn’t that way at all. Be kinder to yourself, my friend.

I know what it’s like to rest your hand on your tummy and to feel your baby kicking while looking at caskets online. I know how it feels to be dashing tears out of your eyes as you search for the perfect little white outfit with darling lace. You wanted it to be a christening outfit or a party outfit or a blessing outfit, but instead it will be a burial outfit. I know that you want to plan birthday parties instead of funerals.

You might feel guilty. Did you do this, somehow? Your medication or you exercised too much or you were terrible in a former life? Are you being punished? Can your marriage take this?

Do you have other children? Will they understand? How do you explain death to a three-year old? How do you explain to the lady in the grocery store who wonders where your tummy has gone when you never come in with the baby?

Will you love that child? Will you look at his disabilities with horror? If he has two eyes in one eye socket, which is so frightening in the pictures you find online, will you be able to handle that? Will you be scared of your own baby?

No, you won’t. You might think so, but you won’t. We knew ahead of time what my girl would look like, and that helped prepare us. Tiny club feet, a cleft palate. Yes, the one eye socket with two eyes inside. The proboscis over the eye. No nose. I’m grateful that we were indeed prepared, because it allowed me to see the other things.

Tiny fingernails. Tiny, tiny little toes. Eyelashes. The most beautiful mouth that took sweet, sweet breaths until her time was up.

She was my baby. I felt her move and kick. I stayed awake at night, worrying about her. Worried about us and our future.

She was beautiful. Yes, her face was a puzzle that was put together incorrectly, but symmetry doesn’t make beauty. She was a living doll. Her soul felt too big for her little three-pound body. Holding her genuinely did feel like heaven, and I don’t care how cliché that is.

Yes, my friend. Yes, my precious, precious stranger. You should hold your holoprosencephaly baby after birth. Hold him because he is your baby, and you are his mother or father. It will be tender and sweet and sad, but I think you’ll be surprised at the joy. That’s your baby. That’s your little one. You’ll love him or her always. Show him while you can.

All of my love to you.

-M

 

 

 

 

The Grief Plant

Loss and loss and loss. I’m ready for a respite. But here’s something beautiful.

When my grandmother passed away in December, my husband’s work sent him a houseplant to assuage his grief. The Grief Plant, as we called it, quickly became mine. And I have to admit that I felt no small amount of terror, because I have a black thumb. Killing the Grief Plant that was sent to commemorate the death of my grandmother might have been a little too much for me.

But I cared for her and watered her and pretty much prayed that she would live and grow.

A dearly loved family member died in a sudden accident a few days ago. We had never been exceptionally close because I rarely saw her, but after my little girls passed away, she took me in her arms and cried with me. She had lost children, too. She told me that I could talk to her about it any time, that she’d always be there and would understand long after everybody else would think I should “be over it”. I loved her fiercely since that moment! Now I’m packing to attend her funeral, which will take place during the family reunion.

But something beautiful happened. My Grief Plant, which almost died while I was in New Orleans and everybody in the house forgot to water it, made a strong recovery. And look at this.

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Something small and white and perfect.

I have no idea what kind of plant it is, honestly. But it’s giving me a gift. I’m so grateful.

UPDATE: My friend Nycole told me it’s a Peace Lily. Hooray!

Moon Bunny: The Murder of Magic

Lil and Rabbit

My Moon Bunny? I didn’t think she would stay. I didn’t expect it, not really. I thought she’d go slipping off into the night in the same ethereal, mysterious way that she appeared.

That isn’t what happened.

The owner of the house next door, who rents it out, came by to mow down the lawn. He found Moon Bunny there. He asked if she was ours and if we wanted to keep her. Of course we did. I told him I’d buy her a hutch today.

No, he wasn’t having it. He had already called somebody to come by with a cage, to take the rabbit to his house where it has pine trees to run through. Pine trees? That’s our rabbit. That’s our bunny. We feed her and love her and hold her. She’s my sign that the world is good, that there’s still some magic here, still something left.

I begged for our rabbit. They put it into a cage and put the cage in the back of their vehicle.

My daughters and I were crying. My disabled son didn’t understand what was going on. My very sweet, very patient husband was trying to explain that we all loved the rabbit, we’d been taking care of it, that it was our pet.

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“No it isn’t. It’s on my property. It’s mine.”

When they went to close the trunk, I grabbed the cage.  I shouldn’t have, I know. But I didn’t know what else to do.

I begged him.

“Please give us our bunny! Please don’t take our bunny!”

He grabbed my wrists and told my husband to control his wife, that he was going to call the police.

Things were escalating fast. I’m ashamed of my role in that. I couldn’t keep myself together. This bunny, she’s more than just a rabbit. She was magic. She was hope that life still has good things in store. She came when I needed her, when I was so broken that I was barely able to function.

I told somebody a few weeks ago that I’m good at pretending everything is okay. I’ve always done it. The day of my daughter’s death anniversary, I went to the World Horror Con after party. A frickin’ PARTY. Hours before I was crying in bed with my daughter’s blanket, but I washed my face and went. And look, I even looked happy.

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Because it’s a party, right? Because nobody wants a sad girl at a party. Because Spin and Twirl, Spin and Twirl. Did I fool you? Did you think I was happy? If so, then good. I did my job. Because I was not happy. I was heartbroken.

This rabbit. This stupid, white, out-of-the-blue rabbit. She appeared when I was drowning in loss. When I needed some sort of a sign that I was a good person, that there were things to hope for, that somebody loved me along the way. She was magical. That was taken from me. Now she’s just an animal that a stranger put in a cage. He degraded her. He degraded all of us.

There’s a meanness to the world that keeps being forced into my face. I try to look past it. I strive to see the beauty. I search for the divine, the inspirational, for the things that will get me and my children by. Tonight? I don’t see it. My children witnessed ugliness today, and it makes my heart sink to think that I can’t protect them from it. That I can’t protect myself.

I don’t want to be hard.  I don’t want to be that person. But I can’t take any more loss. I just can’t. No more disappointment in people. I’ve hit my threshold for a while. I’m too fragile for you, World. You’re…mean.  Just too mean.

I do have some good news. A book signing and a presentation.  I’ll share it soon, when things look brighter. For now, I’m going to swing on my swing outside. Yesterday I held a precious white rabbit in my lap while I do so. Tonight my hands and lap and heart will be horrifyingly empty.

A Safe, Warm House

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Yesterday was an emotional day. One of my roommates received some devastating news. I’m still bruised myself. So we all stayed inside of our safe, warm house yesterday, leaving only to get more Coke Zeros, snacks, and dinner.

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Do you know what it feels like to be loved? To have people who genuinely care for you gathered around? It feels wonderful.

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We ate catfish and gumbo and soft-shelled crab. We cried a bit, laughed a lot, and talked late into the night. We sat down and had a write-in together. It was so lovely. It was so healing.

Today is a new day.

I’m in New Orleans, wearing a red dress.

Monarchs and the Mississippi

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We flew out at 6 am today, which means that we were driving to the airport at 4:30. The phrase “Don’t talk to me until Texas” was thrown around a couple of times. Neither Mason, Matt, nor I are fabulous morning people.

I bought at Diet Coke for $3.50 in the Houston airport. I nearly wept.

The house in New Orleans is beautiful. Most of the group is staying at the Monteleone hotel in the French quarter, which is gorgeous. It’s also $150 a night. We rented a charming house a mile away for much, much less. Wood floors. Writing nooks. AIR CONDITIONING. I’m working the registration table twice tomorrow, as well as going to a KaffeeKlatsch with Bruce Boston. I’m excited to do that, but I’d also love to curl up and sleep the day away, waking up to write. Sometimes I love noise and people. It distracts me. But sometimes I need to hide. Right now a little hiding would be ideal.

The best part of today? We walked through the French Quarter, right up to the Mississippi river. Near the banks, I saw a Monarch Butterfly. Perhaps you know of my fondness for them. They’re very important to me. They remind me of childhood and hope and struggle. Few things are as significant.

It’s the first Monarch I’ve seen of the season. Big and bright and beautiful. I actually cried, “A Monarch!” and ran after it, like I was a little girl. Then my friends and I went and put our feet in the water of the Mississippi. We watched the boats go by until the sun went down. I didn’t want to move. It was peace.

I saw a few friendly faces and will see more tomorrow. My mind is close to home, tonight. I talked to my son on the phone and he’s excited for me to come home. My daughter told me the bunny was in the back yard today, even though I wasn’t there. I told her that animals come to play with her, too.

World Horror Con, Grief, and White Rabbits

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I’m leaving for World Horror Con in New Orleans, tomorrow. I’m going with part of my writer’s group and I’ve been hopeful about it for quite a while. It’s my first World Horror. And in NOLA! Woo!  On the other hand, I’ve been exceptionally sad for the last few months and I don’t know if I have the internal fortitude that I need. I want to be with people who love me, not strangers.

It’s my daughter’s second birthday, and I’ll miss it. Miss the party, miss the snuggles and celebration. And I’ll miss having somebody to cry with. For those of you who don’t know, I was carrying triplets and we lost two. Daisy before birth, and Seija after. It has been two years since I watched one of my little girls die. I’ve been dreading this anniversary with everything I have.

Grief is a funny thing. Some days we manage quite beautifully, and others…I thought it would be easier by now. That life would be easier. It isn’t. There are good days and bad days. But everybody expects a few months of grief and then complete healing, including me.  And life doesn’t stop to let you grieve, either. I’ve been walking around with a gigantic Fragile: Handle With Care sticker for a while, but there are still bumps and bruises that just come along. That’s life, yes? 🙂  We all know it. We all live it.

Vegas bunny

I live in Las Vegas, in the middle of the city. Three days ago, a white bunny appeared on my front lawn. It was the most breathtaking, magical thing. A thing of true beauty. White and sweet and somewhere that she completely shouldn’t be.  I saw her twice that day. Later that night, while folding laundry and watching true crime (as I am wont to do) a white bunny factored into the crime case. That was three white bunnies in one day.

I can’t tell you what that meant to me. It seemed like an omen of hope. Of good things. It filled my heart.

I saw her again, yesterday. Twice.

She’s here again today. That’s three days of hopeful white bunnies.

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I’m very divided on what I think. I couldn’t tell you if I believe in signs or not. I’ll say no, then secretly think yes. I’ll say yes, and secretly think no. I’m a Pisces. It comes with the territory. 😛

But this? I choose to think yes. That Omen (which is what I named her) showed up to give me hope. The joy that she gave my children was indescribable. Mom! A bunny! At our house! I think it’s magic!

I’m ready to reboot. Head out to this conference and focus on writing for a while. Friends. Enjoy the city. Become inspired. Saturday, their birthday, the day I’m most afraid of, is full from top to bottom. I’m reading from Beautiful Sorrows. Doing a panel. Going to a Kaffeeklatsch with Ellen Datlow. Running pitches for two hours. Going to the Bram Stoker Awards banquet. And I’m wearing a really darling little dress that I bought because it just looked so happy.  I’ll try my hardest to make it A Day of Happy. If you’re there, won’t you join me?

A Newborn Field Mouse

I have to be honest;  It’s still difficult to be here.  I want to get back onto the writing/blogging horse. After the birth of one daughter and the death of two more, I feel like I’m a newborn field mouse, stumbling around in the meadow.  Some days I’m absolutely full of laughter.  Some days I wonder if I’ll ever stop hurting.  It wearies me to put pen to paper sometimes.  The keys of the keyboard are harder to press.  I stare into space thinking about how lucky I am, or how saddened I am, or how damned I am.  But writing gets me through it. It’s how I process.  I’ll slowly start making the blogging rounds again as I get my feet under me. I miss you, and don’t give up on me, yes?  🙂

Lightning Strikes In Las Vegas

Beautiful photo by Steve Marcus of Reuters

We had the most amazing storm last night.  It was about 3 AM and I was up with the little Cyborg Ninja.  I heard the storm coming closer, and it made me happy.  The lightning was stunningly bright and flashed so often that I didn’t need to turn on any lights.  Wind.  Rain.  Thunder so loud that I thought I’d have little kidlets running into my arms any minute.

But no, they slept.  My husband woke up, however, and he came to sit by me.  We watched the gutters flood and water run across our lawn, but we’re lucky enough that it wasn’t anything serious.  I thought about how things are settling for us now, especially after everything has been so gut-wrenching lately.  He and I haven’t had the chance to sit together quietly for quite a while.  What I thought but didn’t say aloud was that we haven’t sat together with a child in our arms since he turned to me three months ago and said softly, “She’s beginning to cool.”

He went back to bed but I stayed up, holding our single remaining triplet even thought she was sleeping.  It just seemed so perfect.

I had so many things to say.  Some fun writing announcements, some cheering.  But I’ll save that for another time.  Right now I’ll just cherish the ones who are still alive.