Books have a lifespan, or they’re supposed to — a book that’s been out for eighteen months is pretty much done. Which is bonkers in some ways, because it’s not like books go bad, or have a true expiry date after which you consume them at your own risk. But in the fast-fast world of marketing, books do have a shelf-life, if you will.
So it is with total surprise that I’ve been fielding a number of requests for Fallsy Downsies’s time lately. Sarah Mian and I travelled to Moncton last month to read at the Attic Owl series, and we’ll hit the road again together to check out the brand new Lexicon Books in Lunenburg on Friday, June 5. I always love a chance to hear Sarah read from her excellent book, When The Saints, and I’m beyond delighted to have been asked to read from Fallsy Downsies that night too. Before that, I’ll head up to Sydney, Cape Breton on Sunday for an afternoon of readings and a panel discussion about becoming a writer. I’m thrilled to have been asked to do this event, which is put on by the very fine Cabot Trail Writers’ Festival and features a number of writers I’m keen to listen to, including Rebecca Silver Slayter and Lesley Crewe.
I’ve also fielded a couple requests lately from book clubs. Yesterday in fact, I travelled out to Enfield to meet with a book club who had just finished Fallsy Downsies. It was great to hang out with them for an afternoon, answering their questions about writing and chatting about the book. I’ll visit another book club in mid-June. and if your book club reads Fallsy Downsies — or Homing, for that matter — I’ll come visit you, too, if you want! Just drop me a line and we’ll see if we can make it work.
In a perfect world, I’d be writing every day and reading from my books every week. But this world I’m in? It’s pretty close to perfect.
May brings confusion and wonder, always. Tulips, forsythia, lilac profusion. Turn the furnace off, open the windows. Bundle in sweaters, wear socks to bed, shiver anyway. Days so beautiful they break your heart, days so awful they do the very same. Birthdays, Mother’s Day, death days. Terrible anniversaries you’d do better to forget, but somehow never can.
Fifteen years of this, and I’m an expert, or I think I am. I am arrogant in my grief. I got this, I think. I swagger through May while others stumble. I talk about it easily. Oh, there were four of us, I say, when someone asks how many siblings I have, but my brother died. Stomach cancer. Incredibly rare. It was awful. He had two young daughters, the eldest of whom was only two and a half. So blithe, so confident that I am on top of my grief, these years later.
Till this year. When it was on top of me.
Grief is a rogue wave. It’s a Loch Ness monster. An iceberg. A yawning sea of salty, salty tears. You’re in a rowboat, thinking it’s a sunny day.
When bad things happen, I want to process the shit out of them. I want to talk them out. Talk them to death, if you will. I want to put them in a container and tuck it away somewhere I can find it if I need it—and then I want to move forward. But that’s not how grief rolls.
Grief rolls over and on and on. it rolls where and when it wants to. It doesn’t care about you, even a little. And time means nothing. Time is a thief and it is also a gift. I am impatient with grief, I think, it’s been fifteen years. I should be better at this. And in the next moment, my god, it’s been fifteen years already. Some day it will be twenty. That takes my breath away entirely. Some day he will be more years dead than he was alive. I cannot fathom the depth of that canyon.
This year grief rolled over me, for all my experience, my arrogance, my impatience. Grief roared up and engulfed me. It plucked me from my rowboat and held my head under till I begged to be let up.
Night came, then day. I am on another shore now. Less sure-footed in my grief, but on more solid ground somehow.