It’s my turn over on ROMANCING THE GENRES and this month’s topic was an unusual one for me. Come check it out, here: RTG
Until next time, peeps ~ Peg
Another weird post title that somehow says it all, and correctly!
Last weekend was a weekend to end all for me ( and my family). Two major life altering events took place, back to back, and they couldn’t have been more different in every way, from the emotions they elicited, to the way they were carried out.
Let me e’splain.
Saturday, my darling, wonderful, talented and much loved daughter got married. The event was originally supposed to happen in May of this year with a guest list of over 300. A three day affair scheduled in the White Mountains. Then…Covid hit. She postponed the big wedding until Labor day, but had to put it off once again because we are still in the throes of a pandemic. September 12 was the fifth anniversary of my daughter and now husband’s first date, so they decided to get married in a small scale event, Covid-compliant, and with immediate family only.
It was the most joyous of affairs. A church wedding and mass, after which we all proceeded to my new son-in-law’s childhood home for an outside dinner and celebration, catered, and Covid compliant to the hilt. It was simple, elegant, religious, and filled with all the love these two deserved.
Happiness was the order of the day.
Sunday, we all had to switch emotional gears because we attended my brother-in-law’s wake ( celebration of life). After a valiant and hard pressed 11 year battle with kidney cancer, my husband’s younger brother – and the baby in the Jaeger family – finally succumbed to the ravages of the disease. The decision to wake and bury him on my daughter’s wedding weekend was made since the entire family would be in attendance for the wedding. Since my bro-in-law was my daughter’s Godfather, she agreed with this plan.
The wake was emotional but in an entirely different way from the wedding. Sorrow, grief, pain. These words don’t seem to do justice to what filled the hearts of the people who came to pay their last respects to a man who brought joy to so many people’s lives.
Monday we attended a Catholic burial mass, then laid him to rest.
I kept a close eye on my husband throughout the weekend because I was concerned about his emotional welfare the most. From the highs and elations of walking his only child down the aisle to marry the man of her heart, to the cavernous depths of despair at saying goodbye to his baby brother, I feared my poor man wouldn’t be able to cope. Many times emotions overcame him. And just as many times he was able to get himself back in check and soldier on.
There’s a quote that Rose Kennedy espoused when her first son was killed in combat during WWII. “I know God will never give me a burden to heavy to bear. He has faith in my to carry any weight and carry on.” That about sums up how I got through this weekend.
Life and death are two halves of the same coin. Never was that so evident in my lifetime as this past weekend.
I don’t routinely give advice because I hate getting it, especially unsolicited, but I’ll drop my guard for a moment and just say this: tell the people you love the most that you do. Often and in every way you can. When we have nothing else left in our lives, we have the memories of the people who loved us and whom we loved.
I didn’t have a blog piece planned today.
I was going to take a break for a day because the rest of the week and into the weekend is already plotted for me. But as I was trolling Facebook this morning, one of my friends posted this picture and I knew i had to write something to express how it made me feel when I spotted it.
If you know me you know how important my Catholic faith is to me. You also know that I have a medical background and sometimes the two theologies war with one another when I’m faced with decisions I need to make that have consequences. This may be the first time in my life that both teachings have collided so forcefully for me.
All that aside, when I saw this photo I started crying.
I don’t know what I would do, how I would be able to survive, if someone I loved died alone because they were in isolation. To not be able to be there when their last breath on this earth is expelled; to not be able to hold their hand while their soul leaves for Heaven; to be unable to kiss their forehead or cheek, or hug them one last time before you never see them again. I know in my heart, despite my faith, I wouldn’t be able to go on.
This is something I never talk about, but today I’m willing to share it because I need to face that the current pandemic may effect me in just this way. I am not afraid of many things. Truly, I’m not. But the one fear I do have and which is my biggest fear in life, is dying alone or having someone I love die without me there with them.
To be cut off from the people you love most in the world, to be isolated in a room surrounded by machines, shut off from human contact because hands are double gloved, faces are masked, and clothing is covered by protective gear, to not be able to hold the hand of your spouse or parent or child as they leave this planet and this life. All those things terrify me.
My darling daughter is quarantined 300 miles away from me. I have not seen her since Christmas. If she were to be stricken with the virus I would go mad with worry. Stark raving mad. Not to be able to care for her, touch her, be with her, would send me over the edge mentally and emotionally. I’m sobbing right now writing this at just the thought.
My parents are 30 minutes away from me and quarantined in their mobile home. Both are high risk due to age and chronic conditions and they have seen no one other than me when I deliver food to them for almost a month. I jumped on the bandwagon of self isolation early because I could see what was coming and I knew they were at risk. If either of them were stricken and, God forbid died, my heart would break because I couldn’t be with them.
Every night I pray for my family, my friends, the people of this country and then the world. To die is part of living, I know that and I get it. But to die alone, without the people who love you and who you love with you, is by far the worse thing I can think of. Human touch, the human one-on-one connection, is so ingrained in us as a species, that to be robbed of the ability to reach out and touch another person, or to sit with them or offer comfort, is anathema and counterintuitive to who and what we are.
As this pandemic kills even more people and destroys the lives of those left behind to survive without their loved ones, I am taking my cue today from Pope Francis and praying for all those who have died alone, and for those families who have never had a chance to kiss them goodbye.
And I am keeping all the front line doctors, nurses, police, fire fighters and EMTS who have become surrogates for so many loved ones, in my prayers as well. Their sacrifices can not have been made in vain.
Today is a real treat for me. Three years ago I attended my first NJRWA conference and met this lovely lady I’m about to introduce you to. We sat together in a Margie Lawson masterclass and just clicked! I’ve watched her writing career grow and flourish since then, and now I am proud to call her one of my dear Wild Rose Press sistahs! Mona Sedrak is a fabulous, lyrical, and emotional writer and her new book SIX MONTHS will have you crying and simultaneously cheering. I could wax on for hours about her writing style and how she treats a very emotional subject, but I think I’ll let her tell you all a little about herself and her book, instead.
Here’s my friend, Mona Sedrak, in her own words.
Mona, The Writer
Writing has always been an outlet for me––it allows me to express myself and make sense of my world. In many ways, writing is freeing. When I write, I leave the world I live in and enter a new world of my creation. I enjoy writing stories that emulate the real world and the challenges women and men encounter and overcome. I am a huge romantic and really believe love can conquer all.
I mainly write contemporary/ sweet romance. Writing about strong women, their families, and the men in their lives comes naturally. While romance is at the center of every story I write, my books are a highly emotional ride that portray the importance of family bonds and treasured friendships.
I am an avid reader and I read just about everything in the romance genre–– from historical to MC novels, to the occasional erotic romance. I love getting lost in a well-build story with fully developed characters and storylines that keep me turning the page. My favorite books are those that give readers a good laugh and a good cry.
I try to write every day, but I don’t always succeed. Some days, after I get home from my day job, my energy level only goes as far as social media and email. Other days, the words flow. Weekends are my big writing days and I usually write 5000-6000 a week.
In February I moved to a new house where I set up a writing room. The room is on the second floor, tucked in the corner of the house. I like to write in silence and this room is perfect. I have a small, antique writing desks and a rather large leather chair. The room has a large window that invites the sun in and warms the room. I bought a fabulous floor to ceiling, multi-sectional bookcase from Ikea a month ago and it stretches from wall to wall holding all my treasures. I love the room and most days I write in there. Some days, however, I write best in the family room in an oversized chair with my dog at my feet or even at Starbucks with noise-cancelling headphones.
I need silence so I can hear my characters in my head, uninterrupted by the surrounding world. If the house is noisy, I wear Bose noise-cancelling headphones and listen to white-noise.
8. How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP?
My current WIP is titled – Gravity. It is actually one of the most difficult stories I have ever written. The story is based on my middle eastern culture. It is a contemporary romance of a woman who makes a mistake and breaks cultural norms. She is shunned by her family and has to start her life anew.
Plot always comes first. I can’t imagine with just starting with a character without the guts of the story at least imagined. I don’t always know the road the characters will travel, but I know the struggles they will face.
Mona, the Gal
Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing!
I was born in Cairo, Egypt and learned how to speak English by watching General Hospital and One Life to Live.
Who was your first love and what age were you?
My husband was my first and only love. I met him when I was nineteen and married when I was twenty. We have been married for 32 years. ( Peggy here: awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww)
If you could relive one day, which one would it be? Think GROUNDHOG DAY, the movie for this one – you’ll have to live it over and over and….
That’s an easy one…the day I first saw my husband’s face. It was also the day I publicly broke with a man I was seeing at a family function with about 50 people. The break up was completely unplanned, and I actually had no idea my future husband was in the room. We never said a single word to each other and our eyes never even met. But looking back at it now, there are a few things I may have done differently.
Do you like a guy in boxers, briefs, or commando?
Really? I’ll never tell and why must I choose? (Good point, my friend!)
If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it beauty item, what would it be?
Eye-brow pencil…I’m aging, and you know what happens when you age? You learn to draw them babies in!
What three words describe you, the person? Introvert, realist, romantic
If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be?
Who’s Jimmy Fallon? IDK – Shakira’s – Hips Don’t Lie. Cause – why not and it’s ridiculous.
If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it by, why, and what would you do together?
Scarlet O’Hara – I’ve always loved her character and the transition from child to adult. She was selfish and selfless, and she could definitely be a prima donna, but could also role up her sleeves and work. The girl had grit. I think we would dress in beautiful gowns, sip sweet tea, stroll around Tara, and say, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
I love the Actor’s Studio show on Bravo, so this is my version of it:
Favorite sound: waves crashing on the shore
Least favorite sound: nails on a chalkboard
Best song every written: “You Raise Me Up”
Worst song ever written: “I like big butts and I cannot lie.”
Favorite actor and actress: Robert Redford, Barbara Streisand
Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? (It can be anyone living or dead): Okay – this may be weird, but I thought a lot about this, and there isn’t anyone I would want to be for a day. I am blessed in so many ways. I have an amazing husband of 32 years, two beautiful children and a sweet grandchild and tons of great friends. I wouldn’t want to miss even one day with the people I love. that would be one day I could never get back.
What turns you on? I’m a simple girl, quiet nights, good wine, warm cuddle with a man who loves me.
What turns you off? Pretentious, disingenuous behavior.
Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date ( here’s mine: “Is that your real hair?”): “I live with my mother.”
What’s your version of a perfect day?
I would love to have all my family in a tropical location…an easy beach day with everyone doing whatever they like. Enjoying good food, family, friends…loving each other, counting our blessings.
For twenty years, Mikala Jacobson had it all: loyal friends, a precious little girl, and a man who adores her. Then double tragedy strikes and her perfect world shatters. Good friends, Rena and Jake are instantly by her side, protecting her from her husband David’s sordid secret life and his final drunken confession.
With their help, Mikala finds strength to rebuild and redefine her life. As her spirit and heart heal, she not only finds closure, but the beauty of a new love built upon an old friendship.
Wandering from room to room, she memorized every detail of the life she and David built––the family photos lining the mantel, the hand-carved jewelry box David bought her on their honeymoon in Salzburg, and Molly’s tea set arranged on the coffee table for evening tea. A cold, hollow ache took residence in her belly where the knot of dread made its appearance that morning. The sensation expanded with alarming speed, dug in deep, and planted roots. Like an unwanted guest appearing without warning and bringing too many bags for just a brief visit, sorrow moved in, shifted, and stretched then got comfortable for the long haul.
When the house line rang, Mikala froze, and her gaze darted to the cordless on the couch. Her breath stuttered. Her heart seized. Clarity forced its way past the tentacles of sheer terror strangling, dominating, and paralyzing her. She shook her head and took a step forward, only to be hit by a wave of dizziness and nausea so tremendous, she doubled over wrapping her arms around her womb. Mikala’s entire being, inside and out, shook as her heart tumbled about in her chest without a set time, tempo, or rhythm. Her breaths grew shallow and choppy, and her legs turned to rubber. The cord tethering Molly to her and this world had been severed.
The telephone rang four times before Mikala forced her body to cooperate. God, she hadn’t wanted to answer. She hadn’t wanted to know. She’d even considered not answering, protecting herself and her beautiful family from the annihilation of their world.
People said she was strong––the strongest woman they knew. They said in time she would heal. She would build another life. And God didn’t give you more than you could handle. People were idiots. They had no idea how in her head she raged. She howled, and shrieked, and wailed…and begged, and pleaded for mercy. All day. All night. Every day. Every night.
A little more about Mona
Mona Sedrak lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and works as a university administrator and professor. Although she has co-published two academic books, she is now writing contemporary romance, mainstream fiction and women’s fiction. She is an avid reader, enjoying many different genres.
Mona lives with her husband of 32 years, a geriatric maltipoo, and an Amazon Parrot named Pretzel. She binge watches too many shows to count and she loves fine brandy.
You can connect with Mona here:
Reader’s Favorite has given the book a five-star rating.
Six Months made the shortlist for the Chatelaine Book Awards
The CHATELAINE Book Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of Romantic Fiction and Women’s Fiction.
These titles have moved forward in the judging slush rounds to the 2018 Chatelaine Book Awards SHORT LIST. These entries are now in competition for the limited 2018 Chatelaine Semi-Finalists from which the First Place Category Positions will be chosen. The Chatelaine Book Awards Semi-Finalists and First Place Positions along with Chatelaine Grand Prize Award Winner will be announced at the Awards Gala on Saturday, April 27th, 2019.
I’m not going to go into too many specifics here because I want to protect someone’s privacy as much as I can.
My husband and I had a conversation the other night at the dinner table – where all the great conversations in the world should occur, I believe – about dying. Specifically, the things that get said to the person dying and the things the dying person needs to say to the survivors.
My husband is the smartest person I have ever had the privilege to meet and know. Truly. He is bat-shit brilliant when it comes to most things. If I didn’t love him to the moon and back I’d be wicked jealous of all those brains.
He told me that he was at a lecture once on death and dying ( for those of you not in the know – hubman is a physician//surgeon) and something the lecturer said has stuck with him since then. It was about what a dying person needs and wants to say to the people he/she is leaving behind but doesn’t know how to articulate exactly what needs to be said.
The lecturer said there are only 11 words that need to be said – by either party – before someone’s death. These are:
I am sorry; You are forgiven; Thank you, and I love you.
Those 11 words cover everything – every single thing – that ever occurred in a life or during a relationship. Think about it. Think about someone you love who is dying. Wouldn’t saying those words do justice to every thing that has ever happened in your relationship?
You don’t need to state what you are sorry for – the person already knows. Saying you are sorry is enough.
You do need to tell them they are forgiven because they need to hear it, but they already know why you’re forgiving them without stating the reason you are.
You thank the person for being in your life, for being there during the good and bad times and everything in between, and again – you don’t need to state specifics about why you are thanking them.
Saying I love you is the most important thing you can ever say to another human being. 3 simple words, without any further exposition, is enough.
I love you.
‘Nuff said, no?
So. From me: “I am sorry. You are forgiven. Thank you. I love you.”