tIt was 1995. My son was almost four. I’d tried to get pregnant for four years, then I gave up. The next two years were an adjustment, but my husband and I adjusted. Of course, as every trite story goes, that’s when I got pregnant. Now with a happy and healthy baby boy, a good marriage, and a good job, I should have been happy. Instead I was listless and borderline catatonic. I told my doctor I’d stopped menstruating. He told me I was too young, as if his pronouncement settled it. I went to another doctor, who sent me to the doctor who saved my life. My thyroid had decided to go on a permanent vacation. The endocrinologist sent me to have an MRI, to make certain it was only my thyroid, that and to find a possible explanation for all my headaches. What they found was a brain abnormality with two possible diagnosis’s. It could be muscular Sclerosis. That terrified me. It could be a brain tumor. I was almost relieved. I decided I’d rather die all at once, than watch myself be eaten alive. It was a tumor, benign. I hadn’t let myself think about cancer. I did not then know that my second cousin had died only two years before from the same thing.

At the time there were only a few doctors who operated on that part of the brain, the temporal lobe, and luckily for me the third best in the world lived in New Haven, Connecticut. He told me I would be all right and I believed him.

Three months later, I was calmly waiting for surgery. I had a four year old son to help grow. I was going to be there for him. I am, but for the next four months, not as much as I would have like to. He had to go to daycare when my husband wasn’t home to care for him. I could hardly care for myself. A large portion of my skull was removed, all the muscles attaching my jaw to the tissue around it had been cut, the optical nerve moved aside. The miracle of medical science, and the skill of amazingly dexterous hands is not the taking apart, but the putting back together. For many months I could not chew, but you don’t chew ice cream. I still can’t chew gum. The headaches are all but gone. The 500 count bottle of aspirin a week down to 500 count bottle a year.

With little to do, I sat down at the kitchen table and wrote(longhand) Dark Night of the Soul. A story of determination, redemption, love, and a spirit determined to overcome his monster. Though it’s fiction and my main character is called a vampire, his monster is no more supernatural, than mine had been. He is, however, far more frightening. In six months I was back to being a mother and returned to work. I put the book away. When I was a child, I’d decided to be, the best person I can be. I was now even more determined. I’m still working on it. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I don’t. After retiring, I published my book. It grew with me, but it is still about determination, redemption, love and a spirit determined to overcome monsters. The monsters are no longer just mine. It is now also about what we teach our children, how we teach them love or hate and what we can learn from them.

Stop and take a moment to look into a child’s eyes. Not your child by blood, not even a child of your own race. All children are our children.

It is funny how time passes. Dark Night was published in 1996. I’ve published four other novels, two more are coming. I’ve watched my son become a man I am proud of. I don’t know how many more chapters I’ll have, but I do know one thing. I’ve lived.