Historical and Contemporary Romance Author

A Brief Personal Update

I’ve been debating whether or not to write this post for a few weeks now. I kept leaning to the side of not posting because, for one thing, this is bound to be a depressing read and, for another, writing it feels a bit self-indulgent and self-absorbed. But when I said on Twitter that I didn’t think anybody would want to read my “depressing shit,” a fair number said that this wasn’t the case and that they genuinely wanted to hear what I have to say. Knowing that people do want to hear and knowing that I don’t want to write twenty emails covering the same ground, I decided to go ahead and do this thing.

So, it’s been ten weeks. On some level, I think I’m still in shock. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I cry every day. Multiple times. I know my son is gone and the sorrow and pain that knowledge brings is unavoidable. It’s not quite as bad as it was four or five weeks ago, when I was crying nearly constantly, but it’s not significantly less, either. Moreover, I’m not sure I want it to be less. Why should it? The longer he is gone, the more I miss him. The more I miss the way he’d bound into my room when I was working to talk to me about something (remember the way Kramer would bound into Jerry’s apartment in Seinfeld? It was kind of like that) or the way he’d call me into his room to share something he’d found on YouTube or the way he’d hug me before he left for an overnight at a friend’s house. And that’s just a tiny list of things that comes to mind at this instant. I could go on and on.

But at the same time, I’m functional. I get up in the mornings and get my kids off to school and myself off to work. When I get to work, I actually get stuff done. For more than two months, someone brought us dinner almost every night or we ate out, but starting this week, I’m cooking again and I have to say that it’s nice to eat “our own” meals again. I really appreciated and enjoyed everything people brought, but you can only eat so many enchiladas and lasagnas before it starts to get old. (Not everyone brought enchiladas and lasagnas, mind you, but there were a lot of them. They are very practical and portable, after all.)

So from the outside, I think I probably look okay. Like I’ve already gotten over this monumental loss that I know I’m never really going to be over. And partly, that’s my choice. I don’t want people to feel like they have to tiptoe around me or, conversely, that they should ask probing questions about my emotional health (especially if they’re not close friends or family). And even with close friends and family, there’s a level on which I just don’t want to go “there”. I can get “there” on my own just fine, and I’d rather do that on my own schedule.

The one thing I haven’t been able to do with any consistency is write. I’ve tried and made a little progress on the YA story I posted a few weeks ago, but by “a little progress,” I really mean little. As in maybe I’ve added 1,000-1,500 words. I think a lot about writing–I plot scenes in my head as a way to get my mind of Julian when I’m trying to fall asleep and thank goodness, that does work. But when it comes to actually sitting down and getting words on paper (or the screen), I just don’t have the concentration. That’s not surprising, from what I hear. The experts say that grief is very consuming and tends to sap your ability to concentrate on anything else.

I’m not putting any expectations on myself at this point as to when (or even whether) I’ll ever write seriously again. I kind of doubt I’ll give it up for good (I tried that once before and was successful for about 10 years, but then the bug came back), but at this point, I have to concentrate on getting through each day as best I can and not think too much about the future.

16 Comments

  • willaful May 29, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    I’m glad you went ahead and posted. One of the benefits (as well as the one of the drawbacks) of online relationships is that people can draw their own boundaries. No one who doesn’t want to read this has to. But many of us do want to know how you’re doing, and at least provide an ear since we can’t provide much else.

    Reply
  • Laura K. Curtis May 29, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I agree with Willa. I am one of those who doesn’t like to ask because I know too well the toll of answering, but I am glad to know you are getting by. The day may come when you feel like writing more regularly again. As you said, history has shown that that is likely to be the case. But grief has its own schedule and all you can do is exactly what you have been doing. Live and take care of yourself.

    Reply
  • Elizabeth Darrach May 29, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Still thinking of you all the time and sending good thoughts. *hugs*

    Reply
  • Terri Brisbin May 29, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Jackie –

    Writing takes an immense amount of creative and emotional energy and, right now and for a while yet to come, you’re using all your emotional energy just to survive.

    Don’t worry – the words will be there…once you are ready and able to write them… Give yourself permission to take care of yourself right now… The words WILL be there!

    Reply
  • Kate R May 29, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    What they said–wanted to know, didn’t want to ask. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Hope S May 29, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Shit…suck…and I want to make it better for you…I cannot, and you know it and you are courageous even writing this. I had mentioned to you that my cousin lost her 22 year old, tragically and its been more than 9 months and she still feels like screaming her head off many days. And crying and wishing it were her instead of him. So scream, shout, be calm, be sad, be happy that you got through a minute…be anything you need to be because this has got to be awful and no one knows at all how to best go about getting on with life. We are all here for you and hope for you to simply share and do all you need to do, no matter what, we are here.

    Reply
  • Janine Ballard May 29, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    “Moreover, I’m not sure I want it to be less. Why should it? The longer he is gone, the more I miss him.”

    I can so relate to this. Our society puts so much pressure on people to feel “okay” or “normal” (whatever the hell that is!), and sometimes this pressure makes it harder to feel the feelings that we need to feel.

    ((((Hugs)))) to you and your loved ones. And thank you for writing this post.

    Reply
  • Jessica May 29, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing with us how you are feeling. I’ve been wondering and I’m grateful you took the time to write this. I have to echo what others have written about not being hard on yourself right now. If there’s one thing I learned by being a hospice volunteer it is that there is no right or wrong way to grieve and no timeline for grief. *hugs*

    Reply
  • Miranda Neville May 29, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Hugs, Jackie. I’m amazed you have written anything. Writing is as hard work, in its way, as physical labor and you need to be in the right mental place. Don’t push and it will come. Meanwhile, it made me smile to think of you enjoying something as trivial as eating your own food.

    Reply
  • Santa May 29, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Thanks for the update. Keep doing what you need to do for self and your family. The rest will come in its own good time.

    Still raising you and your up. And sending blessings of peace. Blessings always.

    Reply
  • Carolyn Jewel May 29, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Thank you for the update. I have been thinking of you, your family, and your son since I heard the news. Words are really inadequate. I keep deleting sentences here because they seem so trite.

    Reply
  • Laura Crawford May 29, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Jackie, thanks for posting. I have no idea what you are going through, but the fact you get up and out into the world is courageous. One step at a time. You will get through this and I’m praying for you and your family. Just be kind to yourself. there is no right/wrong way to grieve nor is there a certain time limit on it, especially when you lost a child. My honey lost a son and he still visits his grave when he is in the area. As he explained to me, “You never “get over it”, you just learn to live with it the best you can.”

    Reply
  • Laura Kaye May 30, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Thanks for sharing, Jackie. I’m glad you posted. Just know whatever you feel, whatever you do or don’t do, whatever you can or can’t do, it’s RIGHT for you at that moment. Thinking of you a lot. ((hugs))

    Reply
  • Erin Satie May 30, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    You should feel like you can speak or not speak. You have a right to privacy and to self-protection. But I care, and I am glad to have this update.

    Reply
  • Romy Sommer June 14, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing. I selfishly hope that the words begin to flow again some day because there can never be too many Jackie Barbosa books!

    On Twitter a while back you mentioned giving tips to people who have friends / loved ones in grief. I am sure that there are many of us who would really appreciate it. I’ve never been through what you have, and hope I never do, but knowing how to help (and not piss off!) someone who has would be wonderful.

    Reply
  • Gwen June 29, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Dear Jackie,

    I enjoy a well written and well edited book. Today I enjoyed one of yours. I thought I would check out your website.

    I am so very sorry for the loss of your son. We are never ready to lose a loved one. However, please know that you will always have him in your heart and in the many memories you share with your family.

    Blessings to you and yours,
    Gwen

    P.S.
    Looking forward to any thoughts you want to share.

    Reply

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