HAPPY PUB DAY, ABBY!
Big congratulations to our very own 2016 Deb Abby Fabiaschi on the release of her wonderful debut novel, I LIKED MY LIFE. I loved every page of this poignant family drama; it is a thought-provoking, sad, important book about love and loss and how one picks up the pieces to move forward after unexpected, inexplicable tragedy. It also shows the value in finding the little bits of hope in what feels like a hopeless situation. As Brady and Eve struggle to figure out their lives after Maddy’s suicide, they slowly, over time, reevaluate and replay events and moments, in an effort to understand what has happened.
As a wife and mother, it was painful to put myself in Maddy’s place, imagining how my family would move on with their lives without me. I would want them to, of course, but the idea of not being part of my kid’s day-to-day existence makes me uncontrollably sad. It also makes me question my behavior: Do I express my love and appreciation to those around me? If I died today, would my loved ones know how I feel about them? Would they worry that they hadn’t expressed their feelings adequately to me? I have a son who is Eve’s age, and it was really difficult for me to imagine how his life would be if suddenly I were no longer around. (I’m tearing up just thinking about it.)
I happened to read I LIKED MY LIFE on a 24th anniversary trip with my husband, and it was a great wake-up call to me: Any day could be my last. That sounds depressing, yes, but it’s also an opportunity to live life well, to be grateful, and to say things that are so often left unsaid.
Like Eve, I also lost my mom. Unlike Eve, my mom’s death happened long after I was an adult with a family of my own. My mother died after a brutal, two-year take down from cancer, so there was plenty of time to process what was happening, to feel angry and frustrated, and to cope with the reality of her diagnosis. It was a long, sad, difficult time, especially the last few months, when my dad and sisters and I went into full-time, hospice mode. Anyone who has been through this knows what those days are like: the managing of pain, the appreciation for moments of peace, the feelings of helplessness, and the long, sad hours of waiting.
I try to imagine what my mother was thinking and feeling in those final days. I don’t know if she noticed how close we all became in that time. We were a great team: Wendy, Laurie, and I kept a calendar that ensured that one or two or even all three of us were always with my parents. We managed our sadness, managed our own families from afar, and managed to keep each other going. I’m so grateful to have had that terrible, wonderful, sad, meaningful time with my mom, my dad, and my sisters. As hard as it was, it’s exactly what Maddy, Brady, and Eve didn’t get and so badly needed in Abby’s novel: understanding and closure.
If one of the bonuses of good fiction is that it makes us think, gets us to compare the situations of the characters with our own, to evaluate ourselves and maybe even adjust how we behave and what we communicate, then Abby’s book is full of bonuses. It’s a powerful, absorbing story that will make you rethink life and reimagine death.
Pamela Battey Mitchell
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