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Fourteen Years

Today marks 14 years since my mother died. In just a few more years I will have been alive without her as long as I was with her. I dread that date so much. There is something so profoundly sad about that idea to me. Each year on her death anniversary I silently calculate how many years I have left before I hit that milestone. In this case, only 4.

I'll write her a letter today, like I do every year. I've been doing this since the very first year, and it's usually the only time I ever write to her. Maybe because of that, it never ceases to be an emotional experience. I always feel like for this one brief time period in which I am writing to her, she can hear me. Each year I update her on the last year of my life. One year I had to tell her that my dad had died. Another year I got to tell her that I was married. Last year I told her about becoming a mother. This year I'll write to her about my book.

Speaking of my book, I'm headed to New York tomorrow on what is pretty much my dream trip. I'll be having dinner with my agent and editor on Tuesday night and then meeting with my publishing team at Penguin on Wednesday. In between those I'm going to attempt to see about a dozen friends. Greg is coming as well and has his own exciting meetings (that I can't talk about right now). Veronica will stay in Chicago with her grandmother for the two days that we'll be gone.

I'm definitely stressed out about leaving her twice in one week. Prior to this past weekend when I went to Nashville, I'd only left her on two separate occasions. And now twice in 5 days. She did great over the weekend with her dad though, and I know that she will have a really fun time with her grandmother. I'm probably the one who has a harder time with these brief separations. (I totally had to duck out of lunch one afternoon in Nashville and cry by some vending machines in a hotel lobby because I felt so bad about being away from her.) But now I'm home and she seems totally unfazed by my absence and is her usual happy self.

Nashville was fantastic. It was so rejuvenating to spend a couple of days with three of my oldest friends, and to just step outside of my life for a moment. It helped that Nashville is incredibly cool and stocked with totally hip restaurants and bars and other craziness. You can see my photo set from the trip here.

So anyway, I may not update again until the end of the week when I get back from New York, but you can always check Twitter for updates. Hope everyone is having a good week!




  1. Hi Claire – I think you only just posted this; it’s just after midnight in Brisbane and I can’t sleep so thought I’d check in here before turning off the laptop. I wanted to wish you the best for your ‘dream trip’ (I agree with that description too!). I’m sure your Mum/Mom would be SO proud of you.

    Comment by Sara M on January 24, 2011 at 8:17 am

  2. Aw, thank you! You know, I usually do something kind of commemorative on January 24th, but I think that going to NYC for these meetings is special enough this year.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 24, 2011 at 11:45 am

  3. Oh, thinking of you today!

    Comment by Joanne on January 24, 2011 at 1:13 pm

  4. I just stumbled across your blog a couple of days ago, and I’m so glad I did. Thank you for the honesty of your posts…this one in particular. I know about those letters. My dad died some years back, and I’ll be at that point in a few years too. I think about it from time to time, and it doesn’t set well with me, either. There’s just something so not right about it. It’s hard to describe and to express. Thank you for putting words to what I’m feeling, too.
    Even though I don’t know you, I get it. And, even though I don’t know you, I’ll be thinking of you today.

    Comment by Jo on January 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm

  5. Have an amazing trip to New York!

    Comment by Kelly on January 24, 2011 at 8:09 pm

  6. Thinking of you today. I lost my mom 9 years ago when I was 23. I also think about that big milestone when I will have been alive longer than I had her.

    Comment by Julie on January 24, 2011 at 8:11 pm

  7. Its really the singular thing that drives a stake right to my heart. Im sorry about your mom too!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 24, 2011 at 8:21 pm

  8. Thank you! I intend to!!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 24, 2011 at 8:21 pm

  9. It really is a tough idea to reconcile. Im glad that youre able to relate. Thank you for your nice comment!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm

  10. Thank you so much!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm

  11. I was sick yesterday so I missed your post, but thinking of you. Hope you have a wonderful trip. By the way, is Veronica still nursing? And if that is too personal, just don’t answer! :)

    Comment by Vanessa on January 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm

  12. This May I will have been without my dad longer than I was with him. It feels like he’s going to slip further and further away at that point. Like I will start forgetting little things about him. I’ve been dreading this for the past few years. I’m glad someone understands…

    Comment by Lyssa on January 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm

  13. Know the feeling… My younger brother died 21 years ago. He was 20. Hard to believe.

    Comment by amy on January 25, 2011 at 9:37 pm

  14. I just wrote about sadness… it gets a bad rap. Sadness really shows just how much you loved someone, how great their loss truly means to you. Without it, can you really appreciate the moments of total joy you had with them? Or are those moments just… moments? I have really been enjoying your blog, your thoughts are expressed with such clarity, something I wish I could do. Good luck with the book!

    Comment by Brady on January 25, 2011 at 10:29 pm

  15. Hope Monday was okay and that you are having a great time here in NYC. I hope you fill us all in on your trip here.
    (This post was very poignant. Thank you.)

    Comment by ADonnRowley on January 26, 2011 at 8:21 am

  16. Thank you! Hope youre enjoying the snowstorm!!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 26, 2011 at 3:17 pm

  17. Thanks for this nice comment, Brady. I say the exact same thing to a lot of the people I counsel for grief. Sadness is such a true indicator of love, of how meaningful the relationship is and how strong the connection was. Its definitely a nice way to view sadness, that I think a lot of people dont always do.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm

  18. Oh wow. That sounds incredibly hard. And now hes been gone longer than he was alive. Thinking of you.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 26, 2011 at 3:19 pm

  19. Oh, I totally understand. I felt my heart clench up when I read this comment. I know Im going to feel the same — like shes slipping away more than ever. Sigh. Big hug to you, Lyssa!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm

  20. Thank you! And yes, Veronica is still nursing. I dont really have that much milk, so shes not missing out on sustenance while Im gone, but its definitely a big source of comfort and security for her and I feel terrible taking that away. Im having a really hard time being away from her right now and cant wait to get back to her.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 26, 2011 at 3:22 pm

  21. Aww so so sorry. :( I know what that is like being away from one of mine. My 20 month old definitely nurses more for comfort than for the small amount of milk she gets. I think we both just love it. Hope you get home to her soon! :)

    Comment by Vanessa on January 27, 2011 at 3:53 pm

  22. Im home! And indescribably happy to be so! And Veronica has her noni back. :)

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm

  23. Yay! :)

    Comment by Vanessa on January 28, 2011 at 11:34 pm

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