November and December are hard. I remember growing up and loving this time of year. Thanksgiving was the best holiday because it was all about family and celebrating the love and happiness all around us. My dad adored Thanksgiving and he always made sure we were together and had the best dinner.
When I was 36 he died on Thanksgiving.
I grew up with my grandma living with us for my middle school and early high school years. It was awesome to have her there and I remember coming home from school and watching Another World with her. She was someone who taught me about family and humor and strength. She was like another mother to me, and I adored spending time with her. Her birthday was the day before mine and we always celebrated together. We used to go to Bill Knapps and get our birthday percentage off the bill. It was a yearly memory I still carry with me.
December 13, she died.
Mooch was another integral part of my life. He was a major part of the next phase of my life. He was there through my MS diagnosis and subsequent depression. He sat by my side while I navigated this new normal and he never wavered in his happiness and enthusiasm for life. He was there when we lost my grandma and he was there when we lost my dad. He was there for all of us.
December 7, he died.
Why bring this up? Why be so depressing?
I don’t hate the holidays at all. I love the sense of family surrounding this time of year and my memories are blessings. I also have an amazingly strong mother and sister who show me every day that life is worth it.
I think I have spent a bit of the last few months a little more down than previous years. Sometimes things hit you even years after they occur and there isn’t a real explanation as to why.
I have also been channeling those feelings into my writing.
I love my family by choice. I love the relationships between the characters and I love that no matter what, they are all there for each other.
They are flawed, as so many of us are, yet they try to do right by each other.
Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about Julie. I wonder what made me think of putting a 12 year old in the care of two 18 year old boys. I look at my classroom sometimes and think about just how out there that idea was.
But then I think of the loss we have all experienced. Mine was more recent, and I was an adult, but it’s no less profound.
Julie represented where I was in my life. I was lost and so was she. She had people looking out for her, as did I, but she tested their loyalty.
She needed to make sense of what her new normal was and how she would be able to move forward.
I think we all have a little bit of Julie within us. It might be moving forward after a loss or an unexpected issue in life.
I think the premise of Tommy and Jack becoming her guardians was incredibly far fetched, but it was also important to me to show that they were all overwhelmed. I have told much of that time through flashbacks and I know I have so many more stories to tell about those years.
Julie and Tommy’s relationship is one of my favorites. He is such an important character to me and one of his most endearing qualities is his sensitivity and compassion. I think that’s what makes him a good pediatrician. I think it makes him an amazing partner to Brittany.
I also think it made him the perfect guardian for Julie.
If it weren’t for her, he would have been so lost. Julie gave him a purpose; a reason to push forward after such a profound loss.
She gave him his life back.
The two of them and their back story is one I am most proud of, and I learn more about them each and every time I write.
The other relationship I love writing is Tommy and Jack.
When I began writing a romantic suspense series, I hardly planned on the longest relationship being between the two of them.
But it’s become a part of me.
I love the humor and sexiness and intelligence and passion of Jack. His love for Stephanie and their daughters is incredibly attractive and he has a side to him that only appears with those he loves and trusts. He uses his arrogance to mask a lot of his sensitivity and he is truly someone you want in your corner.
Making him a cardiac surgeon was my way of showing the irony of the one organ he could never really command emotionally, until he met Stephanie.
Tommy was the opposite in many ways from Jack. As outgoing as Jack was, Tommy was an introvert. He listened and observed and learned. He was content to live in Jack’s shadow and he never really went out of his way to be in the forefront. I love Tommy probably more than any character and I think he embodies so much of the characteristics I love. (especially the hairy chest) 🙂
This family is incredibly important to me. They are my voice. They are my imagination. They are my hope. They are my escape.
I truly appreciate you all reading their escapades and I can’t wait until “Defining Moment” comes out.
Please enjoy the flashback below. It has never been released.
Don’t forget to preorder your copy of Defining Moment, available on all ebook formats.
“Cardiothoracic surgery? Are you sure?” Tommy asked as he and Jack talked about picking their specialties. “I know you think you have a way with the heart, but do you always want to have your hands in it?”
Jack rolled his eyes.
“I’ve always wanted to be a surgeon, you know that. Besides, I think holding the power of life and death in your hands is erotic.”
Tommy looked sick.
“That’s fucked up, man.”
“You know what I mean. I want to do the most good and fixing the heart will fix lives. The trials I’ve witnessed with bypass technology are awesome. I want to get in there. I can do a lot of good. Besides, you’ll need a good heart surgeon with the way you wear your heart on your sleeve.”
“So what about you? Maybe you could pick a less depressing specialty like Forensic pathology? I mean pediatric oncology. Talk about a downer.”
“Not if you help save people,” Tommy said.
“But your patients will all be little kids. How horrible.”
“I don’t think so. Kids are different than adults.”
Jack patted him on the back.
“Good for you! Did you just figure that out?”
Tommy smacked his arm away.
“Shut up. I mean that they don’t hide things. They hurt and they tell you. They don’t bullshit. They are real and I want that. I don’t like adults.”
“Good to know,” Jack laughed. “Adults don’t like you, either.”
They both laughed and then Jack looked at him.
“If you work on kids, how can you help me when I need it?”
Tommy took a drink of his beer.
“What do you mean?”
“That’s the plan, isn’t it? We both become brilliant doctors and then when we grow old, we each save the other. If you work on kids, how can you help me?”
Tommy laughed and then saw he was serious.
“So by that logic, you figure my heart will go out?”
“Well, you do eat a lot of shit,” Jack said and took a bite of his cheeseburger.
Tommy rolled his eyes and then looked at his pizza.
“It’s got cheese on it. That’s good. Besides, look at what you’re eating.”
Jack chewed on a piece of bacon that fell from his burger.
“We’re talking about you, not me.”
“No, actually, we’re talking about you not having me to save you. What specialty did you want me to study? Proctology?”
Jack choked. “I will never, ever have any need for one of those.”
“So your asshole is as confident as you are?”
They both burst out laughing.
“We’re fucked up,” Tommy said.
“Nah, just you.”
“Nice,” Tommy said.
“So has Julie picked a major yet?” Jack asked.
“No. She is determined to pledge a sorority. I need to stop that,” he sighed.
“Why? We are both in a fraternity.”
Tommy stared at him.
“Oh, well not all fraternity guys are like us.”
“Okay, me,” Jack said. “You act like I’m a sex freak. I just like to enjoy women. The female anatomy is a beautiful thing.”
“So why not become a gynecologist?”
“Ew, no. I don’t want to see what’s wrong with it. I want to appreciate it for all it is; you know, healthy and shit.”
Tommy shook his head.
“There is something wrong with you.”
“No, you just need to learn to live a little. I could hook you up with Heather’s sister.”
“Yeah, I’ll pass. I have to go study. Are you coming?”
Jack cleaned up their trash and nodded.
“Yeah, I should hit the books, too.”
They made their way out and Tommy looked at him.
“Just so you know, I won’t ever let anything happen to you. If you need surgery, I’ll be there.”
“I know that.”
“And I don’t ever plan on having you touch my heart. I plan on living a long time.”
Jack looked at his best friend.
“I’m going to hold you to that.”