Below is the prologue that my husband wrote for the book that I just finished writing. We just submitted the manuscript to the Editor this morning, yay!!! But we left out the prologue. I wanted to share it with you guys, because I love Dan, and his writing is beautiful. And we thought it would be a great way to share with everyone the news that my book has been submitted for review.
"The writing of this book was something of a miracle, actually. Holidays are always a bit of a stressor for me. Finding a thoughtful gift we can afford that Bekka will actually like on the limited time I have can be pretty daunting. My main goal is to find the right gift as quickly as possible, buy it, wrap it, and take a nap.
Christmas 2012 was going to be a slam dunk. I had the perfect gift chosen – a sewing machine. It was thoughtful, useful, rather expensive, but affordable, and I knew she wanted one because she had mentioned it a few times before. But also a complete surprise, she would never suspect I’d spend so much. I took my time and researched it out, finally settling on a really nice Brother model. Even though I was getting a bit of a foreboding feeling about it, I had our friendly neighborhood Fry’s Electronics request one from another store. When that didn't work out, I finally ignored the feeling and Amazon.com’ed one. It arrived two days later, and I was elated! Well, for a little while. Unfortunately, that pesky foreboding feeling returned, only stronger. I reasoned with myself, “How could this be wrong? It’s a practical gift, we have the money, and it could easily pay for itself with a little hard work.” That worked! For a little while. Alas, the wrong feeling would soon return, and actually got even stronger. “Dangit! This is a good gift, I want my nap!” I thought. It got so bad that I couldn't even go in the room where the blasted machine was hidden without being nearly overcome by the unpleasant feeling.
I have learned a few things in the course of my life. One of them is that when an inspiration like this comes, follow it. So, finally, with a heavy of soul, I took the box, the beautiful box with that amazing, beloved piece of gift-estry, set it in the middle of the room in front of Becky, and lifted the cover. We sat there watching it for a while, bidding it farewell. Dadgumit, it didn’t make any sense! With sad hearts, we put it in the back of the bedroom, and I emailed Amazon.com. I actually didn’t send it back until after Christmas, hoping for a miracle, or that the Lord would change his mind (I knew better than to ask Him for that though, we all know where that leads you). I finally let go of the final vestiges of hope, and sent it back. Sigh.
Meantime, I was in a real pickle – only a couple weeks till the big day, and I had nuttin’. Then one day I was surfin’ the Net for ideas on how to publish a book I had written a decade earlier (a profound work of amazing wit and incredible insight entitled “The Smalton Crisis: the Minority Who Cried Racism”, look for it in bookstores any year now), when it happened. The miracle. A certain blog suggested that I attend writers’ conferences. So I Googled “Phoenix Writers’ Conferences.” The very first result was for ANWA – the American Night Writers Association. It was a group exclusively for aspiring LDS women writers. I immediately realized that Becky was an aspiring LDS woman writer! And their upcoming writers’ conference cost less than the sewing machine! Now, her birthday conveniently occurs three days before Christmas, and so I also got her a yearly membership to ANWA and made that her birthday present!!! Shazam! I think a light actually shone thru the roof and a celestial choir sang a chord of triumph. I ordered the membership, signed Rebbecca up for the conference, went to my room and took a nap.
Christmas morning arrived, and as luck (our luck) would have it, Bek was sicker than a dog. She nearly-patiently went thru the intricate obstacle course I had designed for her, and finally got to the present under the tree: a wireless keyboard with the word “Press Me” taped to the Enter key. She pressed it, and I will pretend that the conference registration came out of the printer like it was supposed to. Anyway, she looked at it for a long time. “You actually paid extra for a pitch session?” she asked. She continued to stare at the sheet of paper, and I turned off the camera I was using to record the moment with. She then looked up and said, “You actually paid extra money for me to pitch my work…” and then something amazing and totally unexpected occurred. She began to cry. She sat there, looking at that paper, crying in a way I have never known her to cry…. “that means you really do believe in my writing!”
So, as we see it, had I not received that remarkable inspiration to do that which I absolutely did not want to do, and then, (against my deepest desire) followed it, I doubt that Becky would have made the decision to actually put her writings together in book form. So, whatever success this (and subsequent???) books may have, we shall always remember Him to whom we really owe our success.
I have always looked at Rowen’s growing up as this fascinating, almost historic thing- something that will be cherished by me forever. Let me explain…
When he was in the NICU, all I wanted was to tell him how much I loved him. All I wanted was to reach through the glass incubator and caress his little face and tell him it wasn't supposed to be like this. That this wasn't what I wanted for him. I felt so disconnected to him sometimes, that all I longed for was the moment he was old enough to understand that I loved him. I couldn't wait for him to be three, so I could pull him into my arms and tell him how many nights I waited for him to come home. How I missed him so much when we were apart. And how I felt empty when I left the hospital without him. So for me, when I looked through the glass at him (I wasn't allowed to hold him that first week), I just longed for him to know that.
So now, he is a bit older, much more healthy, and is beginning to understand things. I took a shot in the dark and told him to take a drink of his water, which was sitting next to him. He looked down and picked it up and drank it. I couldn't believe it. The next day we were listening to music and I asked him if he could dance. He instantly started dancing. I tell him to wave hello and goodbye and he happily does it. There are other things, too. I know at this age, they do these things, and I know it’s normal. But it isn't normal to me. It’s just a step closer to the day I am able to pull him close and tell him he was the most important person in my life during those few weeks he was born. I remember it so clearly- it was as if you’d been waiting in line for three days to meet your favorite movie star, the one you've loved your whole life. And you've anticipated this moment for a long time. This really important person. Well, I looked at Rowen like this. When he was hooked up to a million tubes, and had a machine breathing for him, and he couldn't be touched or caressed or soothed. He looked completely alone. I remember trying to touch him once, and he winced in pain. They warned me that would happen, but as his little body pulled away from my touch, my heart broke. I actually wondered in that moment if he would ever allow me to touch him. If he would ever be okay with cuddles and kisses and snuggling and butterfly kisses on his cheek. I wondered all of that. I feared he wouldn't. And THAT is why when he buries his face in my neck and softly falls asleep, I adore it. That is why when he pats me on my shoulder as I hold him close, I cherish it. Or when he is sad and crying, and I walk into the room, and he lifts his arms high, tears streaming down his face, as if he’s begging me to hold him tight, I do it.
Every time he understands me, I'm elated. Every time he says "mama", I want to cry. Or when he hugs me with his little arms and clings to me tightly, I seriously think my heart might explode. Someday I may take these little things for granted. But not yet.
I tell him I love him every chance I get, and I hug him tight every chance I get. You’d never know he had a hard time with touch. He loves it now. He lives for those moments when daddy gives in and walks him back and forth late at night when Rowen can’t sleep. He rests his little head on his daddy’s shoulder and closes his eyes. I sometimes will find them, in the middle of the night, both asleep in the rocking chair. It’s one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.
Little Rowen. How I love him. I'll forever tell him so. I'll forever look for excuses to pull him close. To hold him for just one second before he pulls away to find some crazy, dangerous thing to get into.
I’ll never forget those nights I went to sleep without him.
But it's okay.
It makes me grateful now for the nights that I don't have to ❤❤❤.
“I give up”. She had thrown herself onto her back and was looking up at the ceiling. She had been complaining about something, and I was eagerly trying to finish something on the computer. So I’d really only listened to bits and pieces of her ranting. But when she suddenly grew quiet after mumbling something, I curiously knelt over her to find out. I touched her face and asked her what was wrong. “I give up”, she responded. She sighed and I had to laugh. I swear she looked like a sixteen year old girl who had just found out her best friend had gone out with her newest crush, and now she did not know what to do with her life.
It’s amazing how the smallest things can provoke such anger and irritation and frustration out of a child. For us, it’s when a check bounces, the car explodes, or someone breaks into our home and steals our television. For Emma, it’s because she can’t get a piece of cardboard to stand up. I wonder how our lives would be if we thought and felt and acted like little children. Of course, we’d be throwing adult tantrums and crying every forty-five minutes. But do you know what else we’d do?
We’d appreciate life.
Next time we ate an ice cream cone, we’d think it was the best thing we've ever tasted. When someone hands us a cheap two dollar gift, we’d treasure it as if it cost them the world. We’d not judge people by what they wear, or how they look. We’d also unfortunately be afraid more often, which means we’d lean on one another and be strong for one another. I mean, isn't that what I do for Emma? Am I not strong for her when she’s afraid? If we were like children, wouldn't we love each other more?
If I were like my Emma, I’d say “I give up” a lot. But if I were like my Emma, I’d also keep trying. And trying, and trying. Because she’s never had someone looking down on her, telling her she can’t. She’s never experienced real failure. Real heartache at someone turning their back and abandoning her. She’s still got hope. Hope in people, hope in animals, hope in herself, hope in life. A real, true hope that can’t be extinguished. The kind of hope that cannot die.
I think most of us have lost that kind somewhere along the way.
But she hasn't. And if we are good parents, she never really will. And although we try our best, inevitably, life will come, and it will hurt her, like it does everyone. It’s healthy, really. But when that happens, we can help her get back up. And we can tell her not to give up. I won’t ignore her little pleas for help like I did today. I won’t wait until she’s lying on her back, looking up at the ceiling, telling me that she’s given up. No. I hope I’m smart enough, kind enough, patient enough, to be the kind of person she can go to when her soul is sad, or her eyes are swollen from days of crying. Or when she really is about to give up.
I hope my door will be open and my arms ready. I hope she will feel my love. My faith and my hope in her.
I’ll look her in the eye, take her face into my hands and say, “Don’t give up, sweet girl. This world is yours”.
Because I love her.
Because I believe in her.
Because I have hope in her.
Yes, my sweet girl, this world is yours.
…..Because it’s true.