Going to the Mattresses

Gentle readers, this post may be a bit short, and bittersweet. But I promise there will be something warm and fuzzy at the end.

A little more than a week ago, my husband and I were cozily binge-watching Longmire on the couch with our Golden Retriever, basking in the glow of a recent holiday season spent with friends and family. My latest manuscript was safely with my editor. All I had to do was wait for revision notes. I congratulated myself on finally being able to relax. Life was great.

The next morning, our beloved dog Willie suddenly collapsed and crossed the Rainbow Bridge, at only seven years of age. The vet had no explanation. These things happen sometimes, he said.

We went home in a daze. And then, twenty-four hours later, my father-in-law also suffered a seizure. A few days later, after hopeful signs of improvement, he also passed. The doctors had no explanation. These things happen sometimes, they said.

I dropped my husband at the airport, feeling utterly helpless. My 96-year-old mom lives with us and I couldn’t leave her. No respite service would come out to our neck of the woods. I had no back-up. No one I could ask for such a major favor. Everyone was too far away. I couldn’t attend my father-in-law’s funeral, and be there for my husband and his family. Life—and death—sucked. There was nothing I could do.

This morning, cold and snowy, there was a loud knock at our door. I opened it a bit hesitantly to find a delivery person bearing beautiful flowers from my fellow Chicks. Tears.


I put the arrangement on the counter—hydrangeas and roses, my favorites—how did they know?—and wrapped the vase in dishtowels to warm it up. I stopped cursing my most recent misfortunes (didn’t I write a Chicks blog on Murphy’s Law last month?) and reflected instead on the kindness of my best writer friends. I also thought about another blog post I’d just written, for Not Your Usual Suspects, on the unsinkable Jessica Fletcher and how I wanted to be like her someday.

Would Jessica mope around in her bathrobe and say, Everything’s hopeless, boohoo? No, she most certainly would not. She would Make Things Happen. And she wouldn’t be afraid to ask for help.

It was time to go to the mattresses (yes, that’s my fave phrase from You’ve Got Mail and The Godfather). But just as I was about to hit the shower, the phone rang. My son in New York City, who’s starting a new job this week, offered to come up and stay with his grandmother. Then I got another call.  My daughter in London wanted to fly in to help, too.

That was the last kick in the pants I needed. Within a matter of hours, I had plane reservations and a team in place for Mom and the cat: my son, my aunt, two friends, and the wonderful woman who helps clean our house. People were willing to be there for me. Why had I ever doubted that? And oh, yes. My revision notes just arrived from my editor in time for my trip across the country. (Blast you, Murphy!)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are always ups in life to balance the downs, even when things look less than sparkly. And I just learned that the Chicks’ very own Ellen Byron has been nominated for the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery at Left Coast Crime this year. Yay, Ellen!

I promised you something warm and fuzzy. Well, here it is. Willie’s newborn half-brother will join our family just in time for Valentine’s Day. We can’t wait for him to get here. And I just may name him Murphy. Or maybe…Fletcher.




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