Jenn McKinlay

New York Times Bestselling Author

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Jenn Mckinlay's News #21

September 16, 2016

Jenn McKinlay's News

Book News: BETTER LATE THAN NEVER is out on November 1st along with the paperback edition of A LIKELY STORY. There are no words to say how excited I am for my second venture into hardcover. My books actually get to be in libraries that don’t buy paperbacks. Very thrilling!

Contests: Having taken a hiatus from giveaways for the month of August so I could catch up on my wordsmithing, I am pleased to say that if you follow me on Facebook (JennMcKinlayAuthor), you’ll find the Wednesday Giveaway has returned with all sorts of goodies that I’ve collected, including library socks, library mugs, book pendants, and copies of my books! Yay! Gosh, I love free stuff!

What’s On My Mind: Loss

It's been a while since I've been able to gather my thoughts enough to write a newsletter. My apologies and hopefully this newsletter will explain why.

The hooligans have a climbing tree. It’s sat in the southeast corner of our front yard since we bought our house many moons ago. Yes, we’re still in our starter house almost two decades after we “started” but that’s a whole other newsletter entitled “Lazy” or “Afraid of Change” or “Lazy and Afraid of Change” or some other combination of the two.

Moving on, as I can only handle so much introspection in one day, this tree has shaded us and sheltered us in various ways for years. When the hooligans discovered that they’re really half monkey, they took to scrambling up this bark covered member of the family, which is perfectly formed with low hanging L shaped branches and a very thick canopy, as soon as they could reach the lowest branch. It quickly became the first place I’d look for a missing hooligan and nine times out of ten that’s where he’d be. The tree is a Ceratonia siliqua (Carob) tree for the arborists in the room and it is just beautiful.

Unfortunately, over the past few years, we’ve been hit by several severe storms and our trees have taken a beating. A couple of summers back, we lost a matching tree on the other side of our front yard when it was felled by torrential rain and crazy high wind. Our neighbor (who first met one of the hooligans when he was perched in his tree checking out the “new” people with his Nerf gun at the ready) upon hearing of the tree’s demise, said, “Well, thank goodness it wasn’t the boys’ climbing tree.” We all agreed that was good even though the tree that did fall took our water main with it – good times! – still, we were happy that the boys’ tree was spared…until last year, when another storm hit and the tree got split in two. Oh, horror! Somehow, the climbing half managed to survive. Phew!

But now the surviving half is looking tired and beginning to tip. I’ve been having tree experts come out to look at her (tree is always a “she” to me) and the prognosis is not good. The first guy who told me that the tree would likely have to go, got the surprise of his life when I promptly burst into tears. My heart actually hurt at the thought of the climbing tree not being outside the boys’ bedroom window anymore. I felt like I was living The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and not surprisingly the tree guy had a sudden “emergency” he needed to get to. I understood completely. I’d have run from me, too.

Of course, while I am sad about the tree, I know that my tears are actually a reaction to a bigger loss I sustained this year. My father passed away in June. It was, as losing a parent always is, a crushing blow. My dad and I did not have a perfect relationship -- is there any such thing? We struggled quite a bit over the years to find our way, but we both put in some effort, some elbow grease, and our finer manners, and we became good friends who could make each other laugh. In the end, I knew how much my Pop loved me and I knew he was always in my corner. It’s tough looking over my shoulder now and seeing that corner empty. Much like when I look out my window in the near future and see that our tree is gone. It's gonna hurt.

I know that in time I will adjust to a new view just like I’ll eventually stop picking up the phone to call my dad before I remember that he isn’t there anymore. Time, I hear, is supposed to help.

When I sat down with the boys to discuss the possibility that their tree may be no more, they nodded in understanding. Being teen type hooligans now, they don’t climb anymore and they could see the reality of the situation with their clear-eyed youthful gaze. Of course, I cried, because I do that a lot these days, and they immediately went to comfort me.

“Mom, remember what you always say,” Hooilgan One began.
“If you love something, it never leaves you,” Hooligan Two chimed in.
“It lives on in your heart,” Hooligan One added.
“The tree will always be a part of us,” Hooligan Two said. “Forever.”

Yeah, and then I cried even harder. Poor boys, their first hard core lesson in comforting a sad female summed up: She’s going to cry, so get the tissue and be ready to hug her for as long as is needed. The hooligans were not quite prepared for how long this took. Their future partners will thank me later, I'm pretty sure.

Because no one gets off this ride without suffering some sort of loss, it is my hope for those of you also struggling with some hurt, that whatever or whoever you have loved, lives on in your heart and that the happy memories sustain you all the days of your life.

Thanks for being the best readers a writer could ever have!
XO, Jenn