Freshly Pressed?

Here we are, five of our six. I'm including today a selection of my favorite photographs from my previous posts.  All of them, with the exception of this one taken by Rob Inderrieden, I took. Enjoy! So glad you're here.

Here we are, five of the six Bradfords. I’m including today a selection of some of my favorite photographs from several of my previous posts. All of them, with the exception of this one taken by Rob Inderrieden, I took. Enjoy!

Hello, everyone. It is great to have you here.

Judging by the variety and number of readers this week’s Freshly Pressed incident (and what doyou call it?) has drawn here, we’ve got some rich times ahead. One of my readers suspected that I probably didn’t fully “get” what it means to be Freshly Pressed, but that reader was gracious in suggesting that it was probably best that way.

And I didn’t.

And it is.

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I don’t mind this little flurry of recognition. It would be false to say much else, since we serious writers ache to create something someone will find worth reading. And we’re a bit tired of being that Someone, reading to ourselves. (Oh, the echoing drone of one’s own voice in the caverns of one’s head.)

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So it’s heartening to have you here, reading as you apparently are. Your presence is invaluable to me, and I want to honor it with vivid, meaty material that will invigorate thinking and stir feeling, and open up the possibility of a nourishing connection between us, all of us.

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I write because for me, writing is a physical and spiritual imperative. Is it also like that for you? If the significant happens – in my world, or in The World – I feel compelled to engraven it, pin its largeness down, trap it somehow. Then I lean close and marvel at watching its complexity or simplicity crystalize on the page. My readers, I hope, share in that marveling, not, of course, because I am marvelous (although my husband seems to think I am, dear guy), but because the potential of our human reach irrefutably is. Words stimulate and facilitate that reach. Almost all of us, when we were babies, reached – and touched and connected and established ourselves as a teeny but proud pinprick part of humanity – first with words.

So. Here we are. May I explain some things?

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I write long.
You’ll want to get a drink. And oxygen tanks.

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I write books.
Two are in either the editing or legal approval phases as we chat right here, you and I.

The first to be published (with Familius and later this spring) will be Global Mom: A Memoir, and is about our family’s 20+ years on the international road. I’ve been posting excerpts of that manuscript here every week for some time, now.

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The second book is an anthology (with a chapter-long essay as introduction) on loss, grief, and adaptation. Its title is Grief and Grace: Collected Voices on Loss and Living Onward. Here, I post liberally from its 300+ pages of wise and varied voices.

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I also write short.
I am a published poet and will post some of my (long-ish) shorts here. I’ve posted several pieces already; dig a minute and you’re bound to find them.

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I also write creative personal essays.
Some have been published in journals and other blogs, and one recently garnered an award. I’ll post excerpts of them here, too.

I am beginning a children’s book
It will address loss and living onward and will be done in collaboration with a gifted illustrator. I’ll ask for your input. You’ll meet the illustrator if and when she’s ready to be revealed. Her work alone is worth hanging around for.

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And finally,

I am a poser of a photographer.

I’m learning to blend my newfound wonder for photography with my life-long and hard-core passion for the written word.

That’s this cozy sky blue/ocean blue blog you’re sitting in the middle of right this very moment.

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What else, you ask, can I expect when I come here to visit Melissa? (Besides, you mean, long-ish, probing posts that sometimes leak tears and sometimes crackle with laughter?)

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The last posts, as you’ve perhaps read by now, have treated some “Don’t Do’s” of co-mourning: Don’t judge or preach, don’t disregard or disappear, don’t enforce arbitrary deadlines, etc. Over the coming posts, you can expect me to examine the nature of “Can Do’s” in the face of great grief. In two posts from now, for instance, I’ll tell about the necessity of “Continuing” by introducing you to Antonini, a family friend, who was the last survivor of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Enough to reduce to moltenness any brittleness in our spines, that post should not be missed.

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Through the posts beyond that, and with your help, we’ll delve into the experience of the death of a beloved. What does it mean to a mother? A father? A sibling? Grandparents? A friend? An extended community? Strangers? What are the implications of tragic loss for our faith? For our non-faith? In other words, what can we learn, broadly and specifically, from death and other losses? What meaning do we deliberately or indiscriminately assign to suffering, to “mortality’s primary companion,” as one insightful reader here put it?

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At that point, I’ll update our Table of Contents. By then, Global Mom will be ripe for public consumption and you’ll probably want to return with me to those excerpts and our family’s years living in Paris, (where I last dropped off my readers somewhere on the rainy cobblestones near the Louvre), then continue to Munich, then Singapore and finally to where we live now, in Switzerland.

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There’s plenty to share with you about Switzerland, as there is about Sicily, where our daughter lives as a missionary (really – who’s going to believe this?) among the Mafia.

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And I will faithfully update you on news on Grief and Grace.

**

Before we all finish that morning cup, stretch our arms and brush the wrinkles out of our pants, a parting quote from Peter Wehmeier’s, Picasso und die christliche Ikonographie.

If I can claim a personal mantra as a writer, this would be it:

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In the face of death, art’s duty – indeed, her raison d’être – is to recall absent loved ones, console anxieties, evoke and reconcile conflicting emotions, surmount isolation, and facilitate the expression of the unutterable.

**

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Again, thank you for coming here. For all the reasons listed in that quote, I hope you’ll come often.

26 thoughts on “Freshly Pressed?

  1. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. Your writing and photos are truly touching. I have “leaned in” and am better for it.

  2. I would never judge or preach about loss. With you, or anyone else. Even if I have experienced it myself, I still don’t fully understand you own.
    I will however, judge your writing, and I enjoy it quite a bit. I am glad to have found you.
    Good luck with the new releases! I can’t wait to read them.

    • Those are wise words. Even our own experience doesn’t give us complete insight into another’s experience. Best to just be there, to listen, to “lean in” however we can. And thanks for the nice words about my writing. I am SO lucky to have found caring readers. —M.

  3. I love reading your blog, Melissa. You are just wonderful. Thank you for everything. And I have to say, these pictures are so inspiring. It’s like a little slice of your life and I love peaking in to see the beauty that you see. It makes me want to notice more of the beauty in my life. I’ve started keeping a journal of things I find to “cherish” everyday (inspired from Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk Of Regrets and Resolutions”) and it looks like you are already a pro at doing just that! So much good surrounds us. Thank you for being part of that good in my life.

  4. Melissa, I so much enjoy all your writings. I would surely want to have copies of your books when they are published and ready for public consumption, and with your autogramm when possible. Am looking forward to hold your books in my hands. You have such a wonderful spirit and your words are so inspiring. You just lift me up! You are such a lovable person! Thank you very much for all the things you share with us. Sending you and your familly my love and hugs!!!

    Linda Bless-Buchen Decatur, Illinois

  5. I really enjoy your writing. I lost my son in October of 2011. He was only 2 months old. He died from sids. Your writing is very therapeutic to me. My wife likes it too. I wish you the best in life and I’m going to continue reading.

    • bigced—How is it that I can be sitting at my desk, 10:17 p.m., reading the words of a stranger off my laptop screen, and my eyes are instantly swimming in tears? Your two-month-old son has opened up that valve in me, and I am shocked and saddened for you and your wife. These deaths are just impossible, so gouging. I grieve with you the shocking loss of that perfect little life. God’s blessings to your home, and I also wish you the best. October 2011 only? Like yesterday. Or this morning.

      You are always welcome here. Bring Kleenex, friend.—M

  6. I just wanted to let u know your a very great writer to me. Your words are like therapy to my soul. I lost my son October of 2011 to sids. I read your words and know that I’m not alone. I haven’t had a inspiration to me in words since I read the bible when I was going thru hard times in the past u are a true inspiration. I’m a true fan keep writing those beautiful words. I wish u and your family the best. I’m going to keep reading so keep writing.

    • bigced—You need to know that I’m writing with your presence in front of me. It is for people like you that I sit here and string the thoughts and words together. I’ll try my very best to shed light and warmth and strength alongside the sharp blade of truth. It is terribly hard, I know it, this surviving thing. But you can and will survive and you will have so much to offer others, although right now it might be hard to imagine that. I died when my son did. Full stop. Finding the way back to life was painful, as you know, but look: here I am, crying for your baby. Means I am very, very much alive. Bless you—M.

  7. I am so grateful to find your blog. I’ve several friends who are in mourning and your essays have touched me and prompted me to reach out to them–to try and share their burdens with them.

    I also appreciate the things you write about living abroad. So far, our family has lived in 3 countries outside of the United States in the past 10 years. I have been so desperate to connect with others to process my experiences. I am so grateful for what I’m learning and the growth my family is achieving. So reading your blog makes me feel like I have kinship with other families who have traveled the world.

    • Tiffany-This is good, then, if I can help you in a couple of ways. The fact you’re here suggests you take your friends’ sorrow seriously. I recall a friend who kept writing emails, saying, “I keep researching all I can find on parental grief to get to where you guys are right now. ..” And in the end, he wrote, “. . .And I just can’t get my mind around it. I have to say it’s just too big. Too big to comprehend.” Those words worked, since I couldn’t comprehend the pain, either. Too big.

      I’m glad for you and your family that you’re having the chance to live in different cultures. It’s the context I know best as a parent, and though everyone responds to the stresses differently, most say that in the end the wealth learned is more than worth the investment. When I return to posting about Global Mom (which is in final editing phases now and is getting a refreshed cover design so it can be in bookstores late spring), I’d love to have you back in this thread to bounce your ideas around. Until then, you can peruse the all the Global Mom posts right here at the blog. They give you a glimpse into what kind of passion play our life has been. Glad to have you here, Tiffany!—M.

  8. Hi Melissa, here is one more reader that has found you because of the “freshly pressed” article. Not a native English speaker, but nonetheless I would like to try and thank you for sharing your experience of loss and grieving here. One of my sons was born dead. Althogh that was five years ago, some of the pain remains and so I am very touched by what you write. I will come back and read more. Greta

    • Greta: Aber, darf ich raten? Sind Sie denn Deutsche? Dann können wir uns mal leicht auf Deutsch unterhalten. Danke für den Kommentar, und das Sie Zeit dazu genommen haben, geschwind vorbeizuspringen. Es tut mir wegen Ihres Sohnes furchtbar Leid; so ein Verlust ist einfach schwer für die Lebenden zu begreifen, denn die haben keinen Kontakt, kein Verhältnis zu dem Kleinen gehabt. Sie, aber. Sie verspüren das im Mark und in den Knochen. Ach, zutiefst traurig. Was das Leben uns alles auferlegt. Gotten Segen—M.

      P.S. I am always happy to find friends from other cultures in my inbox. Thrilled.

      • Hi Melissa, danke für die mitfühlenden Worte.
        Habe heute mehr in Ihrem Blog gelesen, die ersten Posts aus dem Mai über Ihren Umzug von Singapur nach Genf. Wunderschöne Texte, I so much enjoyed reading! Greta

      • Hallo, Greta–Die ersten sind zwar etwas überflächlich, meine ich, indem ich hauptsächlich von dem Land/bzw. den Ländern schreibe, und nicht unbedingt von so vielen Gefühlen, von dem innersten “Ich”. Aber das habe ich mit der Zeit anscheinend mehr als geordnet, nicht wahr? 🙂 So great to have different languages in the mix here. Freut mich, daß es Ihnen eben so wenig gefallen hat. MfG—M.

  9. Your words make me quivre. They make me want to tell my tale of abuse and the long road to understanding and forgiveness. Please keep pushing me forward so I can reveal my insides to others.
    Thank you , Mendi

  10. You always bring me to tears with your words. You are one of the most eloquent writers that I have read. I learn so much from you and I am inspired everytime that I read another of your stories. I am hooked. I cannot wait to finish them all. I am curled up with a cup of coffee on the sofa to get lost in your stories. Thank you Melissa for sharing with us your gift of word.

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