Book Touring & Home Again

Hello.

You’re back. So am I.

With friend Ellen while in Boston on book tour

With friend Ellen while in Boston on book tour

Two months of blankness here at Melissa Writes of Passage. Two months of blessedness in my off-line life.

Because it’s been so much, you’ll excuse me this one time if I’m dry and unimaginative. I dislike “dry and unimaginative” in writing as much as I do in eating. Who wants a 2″ cracker that sits on your tongue like an old cardboard bus ticket when you could have a deep ceramic dish of eggplant parmesan and a generous serving of tiramisu?  I mean, honestly.

But I can’t go for juicy, well-spiced and elaborate today. Unless I write another book. I’m doing catch-up here. So I hope you’ll pardon the cracker:

Jan 5 –Feb 5:

Crunch month. Many 16-hour days devoted to prepping for book tour.

Jan 5-Feb 5:

Crunch month also for final submissions of manuscript for my next book, Loss & Living Onward, releasing in May. (But you can already go ahead and preorder here.)

Book Tour: New England and the Rockies

The Global Mom New England/Rockies book tour grew from what originally was to have been 3 events to 21, spread over 12 days. There was one day with 6 back-to-back events. A lot. But it was invigorating and, on the deepest levels, nourishing for me.  So, with the huge support of many large-hearted folks, I managed it. I’ll give more details of individual experiences as I get back into posting here every week. Much to share.

Feb 6-12. Massachusetts and Utah: I saw and spoke about things that really matter, and with dozens ––even hundreds–– of people, most of whom I was meeting for the first time, some of whom have been lifelong friends, and even a couple of key people with whom I’ve been virtually incommunicado for several years.  The power of human connection and, above all, reconciliation was at times enough to make my spine melt. I found my self welling with tears many times over the 12 days.  I never cried from exhaustion or stress (even when my computer battery died in the middle of a presentation, or when I lost my voice from one minute to the next); I grew teary from joy, gratitude, and from the tenderness I felt many times as I communed with new and old friends. There seemed to be a palpable outpouring of goodness every place I was able to go. It was uplifting and fortifying for me.

With Maja, my lifelong friend

With Maja, cherished lifelong friend

Multiple times, I lectured on Global Mom and the nature of internationally nomadic living. But I also focused many of my engagements on addressing head-on the landscape of loss. This naturally dove-tailed Global Mom with a lecture on Loss & Living Onward. At one fireside in particular, arranged by Sharlee (a lifelong friend you’ll learn more about in future posts) the atmosphere was palpably resonant. I’m indebted to the many professionals and friends who facilitated gatherings like that.

Women of the Marriott Business School (Jacque second to right)

Women of the Marriott Business School (Jacque second to right)

I was fortunate to speak twice to groups at Harvard Business School (one time of the two was in tandem with my lifelong friend Jacque, who is a corporate business partner; you’ll also learn more about her in future posts), three times at Brigham Young University, including one keynote address with Jacque at the Marriott Business School. There were formal book signings and readings, six firesides, a Mormon Women Project event, four book groups, a grief roundtable, a fun radio interview (will post that link soon) , a quick morning TV spot, and filming of the trailer for my upcoming book with Michelle (you’ll learn more about her and our friendship, too, here and in future posts), and many valuable side conversations with audience members and readers. Every single day––every hour, it seemed–– was weighted with meaning.

With Michelle and her daughter, Mary

With Michelle and her daughter, Mary

Request

If by chance you attended any of these events either at Harvard, in Cambridge, in western Massachusetts, in Salt Lake City, at BYU or any other venue, maybe you can leave a brief comment here about what you attended and experienced. It’s nice to see these things from others’ points of view. I won’t be able to do the entire tour justice unless I have participants’ input.

Home Again

I landed­ at the Geneva airport on Monday, February 17th—exhausted, (sort of), but primarily exhilarated, bone-deep grateful, and soaked-through with memories of people’s kindness­. I felt I could have turned around and done the whole thing all over again. Except for the fact that. . .

Meeting our daughter at the Geneva airport. The eyes tell volumes.

Meeting our daughter at the Geneva airport. Her eyes tell volumes. It is bewildering and sometimes painful to leave the rich mission experience and reenter mundane life.

…only 24 hours later, on Tuesday, February 18th, through those same sliding airport doors walked our daughter Claire, finally home with us after 18 months as a volunteer for our church in southern Italy. We have not see her face-to-face this whole time. (We’ve only exchanged weekly emails and Skyped three times, one hour a shot.) My next post will focus exclusively on her experience.

Christmas dismantled. On March 3rd.

Christmas dismantled. On March 3rd.

Fulfilling a promise we’d made to Claire many months ago, we celebrated Christmas Eve (The Sequel) on the 19th, and Christmas Day (The Sequel) on the 20th, on what would have been our Parker’s 25th birthday. It is difficult to share what these landmarks mean to me, to us, to our ongoing sense of family.  There has been a lot of smiling, crying, silence, laughter and embracing. And while it’s been thrilling to all be together, it’s also been sobering to not all be together.

Claire and Dalton

Claire and little brother Dalton

Claire and Luc

Claire and baby brother Luc

The day after the Christmas Day Sequel (and fulfilling another  promise we’d made earlier to Claire), we drove off for northern Italy, to Milan, with our Claire as translator, where we stumbled into Women Fashion Week, but quickly escaped in order to spend Sunday with the Di Caros, friends our Claire made during her missionary service. This visit (and the seven-course dinner served in their charming farm home surrounded by vineyards and beehives) deserves its own post, also coming. (With some great photos).

The Bradford and DiCaro women

The Bradford and Di Caro women

 

The whole family

Bradfords and Di Caros in Stradella, Lombardy

Not a single cracker here...

Not a single cracker anywhere here…

...but a perfect tiramisu.

…but a perfect tiramisu.

12 thoughts on “Book Touring & Home Again

  1. There I am with my new friend Melissa! I loved hearing you speak; about your book, about your family, about your life. And the best part was meeting you (and the Swiss chocolate you gave me)!

  2. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at two of those five-in-one-day events during the Utah leg of Melissa’s whirlwind tour. At the first, I watched as Melissa transfixed an entire classroom of bright, attentive students in Margaret Young’s LDS Literature course at BYU with her wisdom, her wit, animated readings from her book, and, most especially, her powerful declaration of faith.

    Margaret Young posted about the experience on facebook:

    “Just had a delightful class with Melissa Dalton-Bradford talking about her memoir, Global Mom, and about her faith. She spoke of community, particularly of its importance during times of mourning. I thought of her remarkable experiences of finding “community” throughout the world, in a variety of languages. We are all simply human. Tears and hugs transcend culture or language in times of need.”

    Later that evening, Melissa arrived at our LDS chapel in Pleasant Grove, Utah for what would be her fifth back-to-back speaking engagement that day (and her twelfth within a five day period). The mere mortal among us would have been barely upright at that point, but Melissa glided in right on time, fully vertical and as composed and lovely and gracious as ever. Earnest prayer (along with a stiff concoction of lemon, honey, ginger, and cayenne pepper that I forced her to drink earlier in the day) had restored her voice (which the airlines had apparently misplaced somewhere during her transcontinental journey from Boston to Salt Lake) so that she was able to speak, though we had to scrap the musical number that she had planned to end the fireside with (the one and only disappointment of the evening).

    When I first learned that Melissa would be coming to Utah and would have a free evening on Tuesday, February 11, my husband and I thought it would be nice to invite a few people to our home to meet Melissa. We were especially eager to introduce her to some of our friends who had recently experienced devastating loss in their own lives. As word of this gathering began to spread, and as more and more people expressed, not just an interest in, but a deep-rooted need for something like this, we made the decision, with the encouragement of our stake president, to open this up to the general public as a fireside entitled “Loss and Living Onward.”

    It was a night that I will never forget.

    As people began pouring into the chapel that evening, the spirit was palpable. They were, by and large, a wounded and broken lot: the decimated parents of a suicide victim, the anguished mother of a baby lost to SIDS, a confused teenager whose father had just died unexpectedly, a young woman who is watching her mother slip away into the unreachable shadowlands of Alzheimer’s, an older woman who lost her husband, her sister, and a sister-in-law all within the period of a few months, and the list goes on. Some were there, not as mourners, but to support and to learn how better to comfort their grieving loved ones. All listened eagerly, hungrily, as Melissa spoke as only Melissa can. The fireside was originally scheduled to end at 8:00, but it went a full hour longer. No one wanted it to be over. The spirit was overpowering. Toward the end, as people began sharing their stories and their tears during the question and answer portion, something beautiful and miraculous and transformative happened to those of us seated in that chapel. We became a community–a true community of mourners and co-mourners. And we were not alone. The heavens were open and the air was thick with angels.

    Melissa was God’s instrument that night.

  3. “Melissa, my newest and dearest friend, ” (An excerpt from a letter I wrote to Melissa, after meeting her on Feb 8 & 9, 2014 in Western Massachusetts)

    “I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams this past weekend, just meeting you, hearing you, being with you and feeling your tremendous spirit. I could go on and on. I won’t ever forget you or this experience. Life changing for me, honestly. I am in awe and you inspire me to be who I was destined to be and to be better and to love myself and others, forgiving those who have hurt me, or making amends with those whom I am hurt, reaching out to those who grieve and mourn. Just to sit with them on their mourning bench, for as long as they need.”

    It was an honor and privilege for me to have had this opportunity to meet Melissa on her book tour and get her book, Global Mom, which she signed for me. She is humble and inspiring, graceful and eloquent, beautiful inside and out, hearing her speak and sing, was a memorable experience. Would love to see her again and looking forward to her next book! This book, Global Mom, and hearing Melissa speak about mourning and grief, helped me so much to help a friend of mine who grieves for her son, who died less than two years ago. Anyone who has had a loss, who is grieving, mourning, hurting and feeling alone, would benefit from reading this book and also, if ever they have a chance to meet Melissa Dalton-Bradford, as I did, will feel a tremendous love and healing that I can only say is miraculous, even spiritual.

    Sincerely,
    Marjorie E. McKean

  4. Oh Melissa, I’ve longed to write you an email since I last hugged you in Michelle’s living room. I was so anxious to see you, to hear your voice “live,” and to bring others with me. So they too could meet you, feel your spirit, and eat your words. You were so very gracious to each of them. Nikki, Martha. And even the ones (like Kara) who didn’t get to shake your hand or look you in the eye, have been blessed by your story of loss. By your ability to give voice to emotions they have felt and known.

    Your reading at the King’s English was delightful. Every excerpt. You were humorous, insightful. Truth and light literally poured out of you. Heads nodded, bodies bent forward, shoulders heaved sighs of understanding and connectedness. A missionary companion and her friend sat next to me; they were enthralled. As was I.

    Also totally delightful, were your sweet parents. It was a kick to visit with them! We shared some laughs. And I watched with a smile as they snapped photos of you and listened with admiration as you spoke. I have a sweet picture of them listening to you at Michelle’s that I plan to post on my blog later this week. I’ll send you the link. It is obvious they adore you and are proud of you.

    Finally, your words at Michelle’s home were refreshing, new, and took the room to a new place of knowing. Of learning about your foreign life, your love for language, and the need we all have to be understood. Sentiments as people left rang of inspiration, education, change, love, and a big, big world to explore.

    While I hoped for more time with you, I was well-aware of the crowds, the long line at the bookstore, and the inhumane schedule you were keeping. I wanted others to have their time with you so I was content with a hug and a few words. Some day, however, I look forwarding to sharing more than crackers, but tiramisu. Or eggplant in any form. Anywhere. On this glorious globe. I love you.

    • Catherine-
      What was missing throughout my whole book tour was more time. I needed and wanted twice the time with readers, new acquaintances, women and men from so many different backgrounds and stories of change and growth. Thank you for your time–so valuable these days — and for your words written to me and for me (or about my writing), and thank you for sharing words with my good parents. I owe them so much. And you, too, I owe you so very much. Always with love–Melissa

    • Don, thank you! I’m always happy to find you here. Lots going on in my family and writing lives, so my posts have been a little, oh, maybe sluggish in getting on the page. Not for lack of things to say, but for lack of time to say them well. You know what I mean with that. Best to you, Melissa

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