I was out to lunch with my friend Janet a few months ago. Now, one thing you need to know about Janet is that she has no filter. She says exactly what she thinks/feels/etc. Our lunches are never boring.
Oh. And she doesn’t have internet. So the only way for us to catch up is over lunch. It’s refreshing. Also, so isn’t a big reader. She’s never read anything I’ve written. Not a word.
It’s okay. She’s dear to me.
“So, how’s the other book coming?” she asked.
“Fine. It’s coming out soon,” I answered.
“What’s it about?”
Janet rolled her eyes. Stuck a french fry in her mouth. Poked at her chicken roll up thing. “Oh.”
(She’s the only person in all the whole wide big world that gets to call me Sue, by the way).
“No. Tell me what you’re thinking.”
“I’m thinking about you writing a book about funeral directors.” She shook her head. Sighed. Ate another french fry. “You wrote a book about that?”
“Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s about a family. And they own a funeral home. And…”
“Sue…” Janet interrupted. “I’ve got to tell you about what I bought at the store. You know how dangly earrings fall out sometimes? I got these little backs for them…”
Janet was obviously done with the conversation.
I love Janet. She is a hoot and a half. And another half. She’s two hoots.
My newest novel, My Mother’s Chamomile releases February 15. Yup. It’s about a family of funeral directors. Nope. There are no gory, gross embalming scenes. Yup. It’s got some sad parts. Nope. It’s not without hope.
It’s about a family who pours out mercy every single day. And one day, they are in need of a flood of mercy to be poured back onto them.
I am prepared for this book to evoke an emotional reaction. My editor, Roseanna M. White wrote about her experience with the novel (read it HERE). Roseanna’s reaction was positive. I’m getting ready for some not-so-good reactions.
One of the things I’ve learned in life is that extreme emotions can make some people thoughtful. Others spring to action. And some people respond in anger.
There might be some ugly reviews from this one.
Here’s why. Death touches all of us. We all lose people and it hurts. So badly. If we didn’t, it would mean we haven’t allowed ourselves to love or be loved.
My Mother’s Chamomile was conceived as I held the hand of my husband’s dying grandmother. I held her head as she died. Tried to soothe her with my words. Did all I could to make her comfortable in the last moments.
She was in her 80’s. The fact that she’d lived a long life didn’t make grieving her easier.
The people at the funeral home were amazing. They knew when to let us be quiet. When to let us burst into near-insane laughter. When to step back and let us be alone. One of the funeral directors was a woman. She was amazing.
I wondered, watching her work, what happens when funeral directors experience the death of a loved one.
That’s when my novel started to take shape.
Because I wondered who offered them comfort.
Characters developed. A plot formed. Conflict. Resolution. Comic relief. All of it started to whip around in my mind. Refused to leave me alone.
The writing was a way for me to process my grief. A love letter to Jeff’s grandma. And my friend Patt. To my grandparents and friends who have died. To my family and friends who have that hole of grief. To funeral directors who see bereaved people on the worst days of their lives.
A letter to myself, even.
Permission to grieve. Encouragement to let comfort spill from you and to you.
Yes. I wrote a book about that.