One year ago today I went on leave from a job that I wasn't all too unhappy to go on leave from. I left so I could prepare to have treatment for thyroid cancer that same fall.
My treatment was waylaid to January.
Waiting was hard but I knew I would be fine. While I waited I grew to learn with each day that came and went that my Mom would not be fine.
While I sat home trying to remain positive, my job contract ended. Though it could have been renewed, it was not.
Losing that job was a blessing.
I had time to spend with my Mom before she died of cancer in April of this year. I also had time to make my "work" what I want it to be - this is when Pickwick was born.
Pickwick Publishing along with my adventures in writing are bittersweet. The one person who believed in me most is gone and I've shed many tears over that fact.
It has also made me stronger - More determined.
To fail would be letting her down. Letting myself down.
Failure is not an option and I am counting on strength, perserverance and passion to get me through to my goal.
I am also hoping you will help me.
Please support Pickwick Publishing.
If you are a writer, an illustrator or just love a good story get involved! Interact with us on Facebook (*like* us) and follow Pickwick's story as it becomes reality :) - click here to find Pickwick on Facebook
Please enjoy a revised snippet of a novel I am working on below:
In the Hollow if his Hands (c) - working title
My parents died.
It was a car accident that took them from me. And though I don’t remember much about it, I was there. What I do remember, I dream about every night. Every night my parents and I sit in our car as it speeds down the highway. Where we’re going, I don’t know. In a flash our faces are overcome with fear and in another flash my parents are gone.
The blue-eyed man comes into focus. He stares into my eyes. I don’t know who he is or why he’s there. I do know I love him. Heart and soul I love him - but why?
Over and over again I'm haunted by my loss. My every move made heavy by the fact that my parents are dead and that the last year we had together is gone from my memory. I want that year back. If I can’t have my parents, then I want the memories that I lost of them. That isn’t too much to ask for, is it?
My memory goes along like a train running along a track, beautiful scenery visible on either side. The train cars full of life as they enter a tunnel. Once inside, everything becomes silent. Everything fades to black. A little while later, with a burst, the train emerges on the other side of the tunnel. Only now two thirds of the train are gone.
What happened in that tunnel? I want to know, yet I’m afraid. What if I don’t like everything that happened? Maybe I’m better off not knowing.
No. I need to know.
I’m in the dream again. Faces are blurred and screaming. The blue-eyed man comes into view, his eyes filled with love, fear and sadness. Why? Who is he to me?
He knows my every inch - my every thought. I can’t make out anything else about him except for his piercing blue eyes. They are so familiar, yet completely unknown.
His embrace is warm and strong, his kisses soft on my lips. He lets go as he’s pulled away. Try as I might, through screams and tears streaming down my face, he would not, could not, return. His silhouette fades out into a bright glaring light as I faintly hear him say, “I love you. Don’t forget.”
I have forgotten. I have forgotten the one person, outside of my parents, who loved me completely. Where was he now? Where had he been for the last 15 years - What was keeping him away? Maybe he was just a figment of my dream, born from my grief and despair.
The dream is a nightmare and I wake night after night to my own screams. I call out to my parents and the mysterious blue-eyed man. No one answers. No one is there. I’m alone in the dark, gripping my blankets tight around me.
The only sound in the room is the pounding of my broken heart.
“Mom? Are you there?” Bhreagh Kennedy calls out to the darkness of her bedroom.
There was no response, except for a confused and disgruntled meow from Marzbarz, Bree’s constant feline companion.
“I thank you for you deep concern Marzy.” Bhreagh whispers sarcastically to the cat as she shimmies out of bed. Marz curls himself into a ball, contented once again to fall asleep among the pillows and feather duvet covering the bed. Rolling her eyes and wishing to be able to trade places with her pet, Bhreagh makes her way down the hall to the kitchen.
When I was a little girl it was my father who would always put the kettle on. He would swear that a good cup of tea could cure anything from nightmares to heartache, the common cold and everything in between. He was right, a good cup of tea usually did the trick. It could cure anything - if he made it. And, that in itself was the problem. He wasn’t there and I was on my own to cure what ailed me. I did make a good cup of tea, but it was never quite the same as it was when Dad would make. One day maybe I would get the knack. Deep down though, I know I never would.
The true magic to Dad’s cure-all cuppa came not from the tea, its time steeping in the pot or just the right amount of milk added to the cup – that wasn’t it at all – it was the man himself who held the magic. It was his care, his kind words and his joking nature that would turn any problem no matter how small, or large for that matter, into a ray of sunshine. All became right in the world with one of Dad’s brews.
Bhreagh sat and pondered her tea before she took her first sip. She imagined her Dad stirring in the milk and placing the steaming cup before her at the kitchen table of her childhood home.
Home - that was a thought! It was thousands of miles away. She thought of her father there at that moment, with her mom by his side. Maybe she could call the house and they would answer. Bhreagh reached for the phone, then realised how ridiculous she was being. They weren’t there anymore and they would never again answer her call.
Bhreagh’s parents existed only in her memory - and her overactive imagination. She often felt that she could still sense them, sometimes even catch a glimpse of them from the corner of her eye. She convinced herself that this was nothing more than a cruel trick of her mind. Regardless, she never stopped looking.
How Bhreagh hated life without her parents in it. When they died they left a hole so large in her heart that she feared it would never heal. The gap in her memory, unseen by the naked eye, was her largest scar.
Wounded or not, Bhreagh had to carry on. What was done was done. Eventually, she hoped, she would feel normal again. Fifteen years had passed since the accident and a new sense of normalcy had yet to settle in. She was losing hope and sadly her heartache was becoming the one constant thing she could count on. It was normal, weirdly comforting in a way, for her to hurt, to feel sad and to never expect much from life. She had become so complacent with things going poorly that she allowed people to walk all over her. Her relationships with men were a disaster, her relationship with her aunt who raised her following her parent’s death was even worse - and work! She could barely hold on to a job for more than a month. She bore the mark of someone who could be walked on and ridiculed.
Through it all Bhreagh pushed forward giving the illusion that she didn’t care how terribly she was being treated - how terribly she let herself be treated. Whatever the case, underneath her mostly emotionless exterior, she did care and she cared deeply. She was a bit of a masochist. She felt that she deserved to feel terrible and to be treated as such. That’s how she had felt everyday since her parents died. Why should she ever expect to feel any different? Besides, to feel happy would mean that she was moving on, away from her parents and their collective tragedy. She couldn’t allow herself to do that. It wasn’t fair. Her parents couldn’t move beyond the accident, why should she? Bhreagh also believed that until she could remember all of the details of her life before the accident she would be stuck living in the past, in the memories that remained. She feared that she would never move forward and even if she could she wasn’t certain that she would want to.
When Bhreagh woke from a coma following the accident, her Aunt Maeve was there packing her bags before flying her to Canada. Bhreaghs Uncle Albert, her fathers brother and her only remaining relative in Ireland, wasn’t considered a good enough choice to look after her. He was a bachelor who jetted off here and there, with a new girlfriend every week. Bhreagh thought he was great but no one else did, particularly her Aunt Maeve. Like Bhreaghs uncle, Aunt Maeve had no children of her own but she was married and because of that she was considered the most capable of looking after her. Between the two, Aunt and Uncle, Bhreagh’s future living arrangements were settled. Bhreagh wasn’t consulted.
It was February when Bhreagh arrived to her new home in Canada. She quickly came to see an ironic relationship between the Aunt that took her in and the country that she began to halfheartedly call home - They were both cold.
I struggled to hold back tears as I stared into my cup of tea. I both despised and loved my Aunt Maeve. Above all I missed my parents and I hated not being able to remember that last year I had with them. What had happened in that year? What was said? Did they know how much I loved them before they died? Did they know how much I missed them now?
For years I had hoped that my memory would just return out of the blue, no therapy or prompting required. Then as a result my recurring nightmare would end and be replaced by something beautiful – maybe a dream of my parents enjoying a warm summer day. As the years ticked by, I realised that would never happen, not without help.
Tonight as I sat at the kitchen table sipping my tea I realised something that I had known all along. If I wanted my memories back, my life back, I would have to confront my nightmare head on. The only way I could do that was by returning home - to Ireland. Surely my memories would be there waiting for me. I could feel them calling.
Every time I would wake from my nightmare I felt the need to go home but I would resist. I would tell myself that I didn't need to go, it wasn't necessary. I could find the truth about my past right where I was. In truth I was - I am - afraid. Afraid of what I don’t know. The thought of leaving the sad little life I have created for myself here in Canada only to replace it with something worse in Ireland sends a chill through me. My life has not been perfect but it is what I know.
I could no longer be complacent. Enough was enough, I had to go.
In one decisive move I went online and booked a ticket to Ireland. The plane would leave first thing in the morning. With no turning back I swiftly packed my bags, slipped a sleepy cat into his travel carrier and tiptoed out the door. My fiancé, who lay sleeping on the sofa in the living room in front of the TV, was none the wiser.
Bhreagh Kennedy’s days of living in the dark were over. Good or bad, her life was about to change. She stepped out onto the street with a smile on her face. A cool spring breeze played across her cheek as she hailed a cab. She felt strong and confident without a whisper of worry or doubt on her mind. Her decision to leave was right, she could feel it. She was determined like never before to take charge of her life and find what she had lost.