For years women asked me when they could hold my words in their hands. The 52 Mondays series of seasonal mindfulness journals was my first attempt at this. In particular, a first attempt to move through fear to put my words into the world in some tangible, hold-in-your-hands way that reflects my heart and way of seeing life.
I had no idea when I started writing my journals that they would carry me through the final days of my son’s life.
And now that they’re done, and he is gone, I need to keep writing.
Several years ago I starting working with an agent and walked away. It wasn’t time.
Winter 2018/19, around the time my son wrote out his will and tried to end his life for the first time, a publishing house reached out to me with a book deal. I needed to be present for my son. It wasn’t time.
And then September 2019, I decided it was time to start writing but a serious car accident derailed my plans. And three weeks after that, my beautiful son ended his life.
You can donate to the O’DaviDesign Art Scholarship created to honour my son and help remove shame and stigma around living with mental illness and simply being human in a messy world. Learn more here.
Unshackled: Remembering My Way to Freedom
After my son died, a small whisper told me that maybe if I could just get through the first 100 days that I’d be OK. I didn’t know if the voice was right or not, but I started counting.
Some mornings I would wake up and feel like I’d explode if I didn’t get some of the swirling rage and pain and love for him out of me and onto paper. So I would write.
My aim was to write raw and honest. Unshackled.
I’ve always wanted to write this way, though. Back at the start.
These days I’d simply call it “telling the truth.”
I often resist writing yet it’s one of the ways I find my way forward
— gently and on purpose.
In January 2021, I signed a contract with Homebound Publications to bring my book, Unshackled, into the world. My book’s initial estimated birth-date was spring 2023! But 17 months of PTSD and severe panic disorder, profound grief, and learning as a family how to live without Jairus meant I needed to push the dates to allow ample space to heal and grieve.
I’m also collaborating with my friend, Kathy Escobar, on Grief Has No Rules, a not-for-profit book to support parents through child loss (launch 2022). We lost our sons to suicide in 2019, just 5 days apart from each other. If you have lost a child and would like to contribute a short story to our book, you can learn more here.
Writing and publishing deeper works has been part of my Vision for my work from the start and though my first manuscript is more on pause than in progress at the moment, I trust I’ll get to a place of sufficient healing and restoration to begin writing again. In the meantime, I’ll take it slow and steady, practice self-compassion faithfully, and remember that for now, healing, caring for my family and work community, living the end of this story and learning to live fully around my grief, is enough. It has to be enough.