Last night I signed copies of Divine Renovations publicly for the first time. It was a great experience, as I imagined it would be. I was moved by what touches people and loved hearing other peoples’ stories.
I was also amused and interested by what people wanted to hear more about!
Near the end of the evening, one woman approached the table and picked up a copy of the book. I saw her nodding repeatedly in a knowing way, so I said, “You’ve lost someone, haven’t you?”
“Yes,” she said. “My son.”
We started to talk. She told me her son was in his 20s and died over 15 years ago. We talked about the ways we keep our loved ones alive in our hearts. We talked about how the relationship you have with someone who dies doesn’t end with their death. It changes but keeps growing.
We understood each other.
Here are some other comments and questions I heard.
“How did you adapt to living alone?” I said I wasn’t alone, that my younger daughter lived with me and was very helpful in supporting me and even taking care of me. She was, unfortunately, adultified that year as she watched her mother fall apart and come back together again. My older daughter was helpful too, cooking meals and lending me her toddler-age son to perk me up. When Molly went to college a year after Ed died, I took on a housemate for the company and financial help. That was a good move for me. I didn’t jump right into, though. I experimented with hosting several foreign language students for a month at a time. I liked the company, and so went full steam ahead with a housemate.
“I want to read it, but I can’t yet.” This comment came from a woman who lost her parents very close together. It has been a year now for her, and she said she is not ready to read about loss. What strikes me about this is how different people are. When my loss was fresh, reading and learning about others’ experiences was really all I wanted to talk about.
“What was your husband’s drinking like?” One woman had read enough about the book to know that Ed was an alcoholic, and she was married to an alcoholic for 14 years. She wanted to talk about Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and to hear about what it was like when Ed stopped drinking. I told her much of that experience wasn’t in the book, but it was indeed raw and difficult. I told her that in a weird way, Ed was lucky his liver failed in 2007 because he had to quit; he did not have a choice if he wanted to keep living, and he did.
“Does your book tell how to meet a soul mate?” One woman bought a copy of the book, and I signed it, and she disappeared. She came back 15 minutes later to ask me if there were tips in the book on how to meet your soul mate. She was kidding, of course, but that was fun. Sadly, I think meeting soul mates is a function of being in the right place at the right time. No magic there.
Four people signed up last night to host a reading and signing in their homes, and that was totally exciting. I am happy to do that!