I LIKED MY LIFE Makes Us Think About Life

It’s a big week for Abby Fabiaschi. By now, you should know… it’s her launch week! Abby rocked it as a Deb last year, but when her publication date did a dance from 2016 to 2017, we wanted to make sure she had a full debut with us. So this week, our posts are aligning with some themes found in I LIKED MY LIFE and we’re writing about what we’ve learned from an agonizing life moment (grief, loss of a job, divorce, etc).

For me, that agonizing life moment was the first death I ever experienced, initially in the form of my grandfather’s stroke. I was close with my grandparents. Even though they lived an hour away, each morning they picked a different day trip. Sometimes it was to my soccer games. Sometimes it was to grandparents day at one of their seven grandchildren’s schools. It was Science Fairs and Scouting (neighborhoods and school districts whenever family was thinking to move). Every Tuesday after I got off the bus, I knew as soon as I ran up the hill and the trees began to thin, I’d spot their gold sedan in our driveway. I also knew there’d be a box of Dunkin Donuts on the table. My favorite was the glazed. My grandfather’s favorite was the jelly filling.

But then, it all stopped. I was ten. It was right after we left my grandparent’s house for Thanksgiving. Later that night, my mom got a phone call from my grandmother. My Pop-Pop had had a stroke. Not a minor one, but a major one. The doctors were slow to react and to treat him. He ended up in a wheelchair, unable to speak, only able to use one side of his body, with little recognition in his eyes.

I was heartbroken. But, I was also mad. Really mad. Holidays were now spent at a nursing home. There were no more day trips. Tuesday afternoons were just like any other day of the week. Whenever I hugged my grandfather, it was one-sided. I was forgetting the sound of his voice. I was angry.

I spent ten years praying for a miracle that he’d somehow get better. I prayed for my grandmother, for my mom, and also for myself. My grandmother spent every day at the nursing home, refusing to leave my Pop-Pop’s side. In losing my grandfather, I also felt like I lost a large piece of my grandmother.

My grandfather passed away when I was in college over ten years ago. I wasn’t sure how to deal with my emotions so I wrote a poem. I wish I could find it, but it’s probably tucked in some corner of my parents’ attic. But there’s a snippet of the poem that alway seems to be tucked away in the corner of my mind: His arms and legs, once a jungle gym, were replaced by a cold metal chair. 

At the time, I showed the poem to my mom. She cried. She asked me to read it at the funeral. I didn’t want to. It felt too personal. There was anger laced through it and that made me feel selfish. To top it off, I wasn’t much of a public speaker. But I knew it’d mean a lot to my mom, so I spoke slowly, I spoke clearly, and I spoke words that had built up inside of me in the ten years since my Pop-Pop had his stroke. A line from I LIKED MY LIFE that resonates with me (and that resonates with another reader as I see on Goodreads) is to “Practice love, compassion and forgiveness. Anger is nothing but an anchor that keeps you from moving forward.” 

Looking back, in that moment of sharing my inner-most feelings in the form of my poem, I was able to release some of my anger, not toward my grandfather, but toward the ten years I had lost with him. And also, I’ll admit, I released some of my anger that my prayers never were answered. I still missed my grandfather and I ached for the ten years of memories we should’ve had, but I was able to move forward.

I LIKED MY LIFE is the type of novel that makes you think and that makes you feel. Each day this week, the Deb gals have shared their stories about divorce, losing a parent, relating to the characters, and losing a grandparent. I wonder what experience from your life you’ll relate to Abby’s novel.

 

 

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Jenni L. Walsh spent her early years ​chasing around cats, dogs, and chickens in Philadelphia's countryside, before dividing time between a soccer field and a classroom at Villanova University. She put her marketing degree to good use as an advertising copywriter, zip-code hopping with her husband to DC, NYC, NJ, and not surprisingly, back to Philly. There, Jenni's passion for words continued, adding author to her resume. She now balances her laptop with a kid on each hip, and a four-legged child at her feet. BECOMING BONNIE (Tor Forge/Macmillan, 5/9/2017) is her debut novel that tells the untold story of how church-going Bonnelyn Parker becomes half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo during the 1920s. SIDE BY SIDE, telling Bonnie and Clyde's crime spree story, will be released in the summer of 2018. Please learn more about Jenni's books at jennilwalsh.com.

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