Happy Birthday, Janie.

Today is my oldest sister Janie’s birthday.

She would have been 61. Instead she will forever stay 47 in our hearts and memories.

It’s difficult to believe that she’s been gone for nearly 14 years, but there it is. We didn’t live near one another, but we talked at least once or twice  a week. We saw each other a few times a year. I didn’t get to see her that birthday to give her all of her birthday and yule presents. She cancelled at the last moment because she wasn’t feeling well. So it was really rough when she died a few months later. So many regrets. So much guilt.

Janie may be gone, but like so many other loved ones who have passed, she lives on in my heart. And in my novels.

I honored Jane in my first contemporary romance, Ten Bucks and a Wish, which tells the story of a second chance romance between Deanna Drake and Michael McCord (aka Cord). Cord’s mom was named Jane. I hinted at childhood memories Jane and I made.

I also honored my own mom in Ten Bucks and a Wish, sharing my memory of what it was like to hug her, offering the wisdoms she was so good at passing along. And while I did not name any of the characters ‘JoAnne’ after her, I worked through my grief with her passing through the grieving Deanna Drake experienced with the loss of her own mother.

Today I celebrated Jane’s birthday with a cuppa tea and a toast in her name. I lit a candle and placed her picture by it, here in my office, where I do all my writing and where I work from home during the pandemic. I don’t cry anymore with her memory. But I still miss her terribly.

In my second romance, Love in the Forest, which is due out in June 2021 again with Soul Mate Publishing, death is a subtopic once more. This time, Brooke Meadows has the ability to receive messages from ‘Beyond the Veil,” and uses these messages to help loved ones cope with their losses, heal, and move on in life.

While I am not a medium, or as constant as professionals who get paid to talk with the dead, I do believe I have connections with the other side. They come to me in dreams, or in signs throughout my days.

Maybe this is why it’s become easier to deal with the loss of loved ones. Because I know that they are not dead, just away. And that one day we’ll be reunited. For now, I am happy with their messages.

In Love in the Forest, Brooke helps a widower, Quirkyflirt.com CEO Josh Quinn, cope with the loss of his wife and their two children. He works through his anger, his sorrow, his guilt, and eventually he learns that life is for living. And loving.

As I grow older, I realize that life is precious. Every moment we are alive must be experienced to its fullest. So whether I am working, napping, writing, playing solitaire, or just sitting in silence with David -just being- I always try to make sure this is exactly how I want to be living that moment. And if it’s not, well then, I figure out what I want to be doing, and I do it.

I don’t see any alternative to living life any other way. Because one day I may wake up on the other side of the Veil and realize I’m done. No more chances this time around, I will have to wait for the next.

So if you are grieving, if you are facing the death of a loved one, or a terminal illness, I’m sorry you are going through this.

But you have to remember:  embrace every moment. Cherish every moment you shared with the loved one you are grieving. Live your life making sure that when you go you will have no regrets.

On top of that, believe. Believe those who have passed are nearby, that they are celebrating your successes and weeping with your sorrows. Above all, they are loving you, with a love that knows no mortal boundaries.

So in honor of Jane, my mom, my cousin Alfred, my Aunt Leila, my paternal grandparents and my maternal grandfather, and all the friends, cousins, and aunts and uncles who have gone before me … I give thanks for the love and life we shared.

And in honor of all those who surround me now, living and well, I cherish you all.

And to friends I’ve yet to meet — stay healthy, love deeply, and remember, Life is for Living.

1 thought on “Happy Birthday, Janie.”

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