A Bit o' my Book!

Hey folks! So, I was supposed to do an interview today that kept getting postponed and delayed and yadda yadda yadda, so guess what? Today it was officially cancelled. The best laid plans and all that jazz. What does this mean? I've got nothing for you, dear reader. And this makes me feel kind of guilty because I'm one of those types that feels an enormous amount of anxiety if I say I'm going to do something and I can't do it. I'm the kind of person who shows up, usually 15 minutes early so I can case the joint and feel less weird, but by golly, I'll show up. I may not be dressed to the nines or have neatly pressed hair, but I'm there and that has to count for something.

And because this interview was cancelled, I also feel like a bloser. (That's a blogging loser.) Somebody, donated to my blog, so that makes me feel totally motivated to keep the content appearing. I don't want her to feel like she's donating her hard earned money to a lazy, no writing kind of writer. To rectify this situation, I have decided to take a random few pages from my book and post them here. These pages may mean nothing to you, but once you read the book, they'll mean a lot. This excerpt is about my scariest day exploring death. So much was at stake. I thought I was going to be a hero and reunite a really nice woman with the child she never got to know and it didn't work out that way.

So, enjoy. And happy hump day! P.S. I have deleted the names of the Church and of the Mom.

     With two letters and a surprisingly beautiful painting of roses that Sonya made for her daughter out of a children’s set of watercolor paints, I drive the two and a half hours to Tyler, TX. My original plan was to bring Erik and the kids, but I have to be on the road at 6:30 to make it to the church before the service starts, and it doesn’t seem fair to subject them to this crazy mission on a Sunday morning. Besides, this is a solitary task that must be completed in a quick, efficient manner. If I linger too long, I will stand out like Mr. Rogers at a Heavy Metal concert among the Pentecostal crowd with their long, pulled back hair, ankle length skirts and long sleeves. Despite my best effort to craft a conservative black ensemble from the available clothes in my closet, I look more like I’m attending a Johnny Cash concert.

     I stop at a McDonald’s in Tyler to use the restroom and out of guilt I buy a mocha latte. Not a wise choice, considering I’m already in fight or flight mode. Sweat is trickling down the inside of my black cardigan and my hands are visibly shaking as I pull back out onto the main road. I don’t know why I’m so worked up. It’s just a church and I’m just the messenger. I don’t even have to talk if I don’t want to. I just have to hand over the envelopes, the painting and leave. That’s it.

     But, really, who am I kidding? I’m a stranger in a strange land, delivering a message that no one wants to hear.

     The _________ Church of Tyler is at the end of a long residential road and consists of two adjacent brown buildings that aren’t particularly ornate or church like. I pull into their parking lot and park in the designated “visitor” spot. I watch as a man in a black suit exits his car with his two young children and enters the main building. I try calling my Mom for a pep talk but she doesn’t answer, nor does Erik who is probably still sound asleep. I’m unsure as to which building to enter—the one with the people or the one without the people. I don’t know if it’s because I’m scared or because it’s Sunday or because I’m about to enter a house of worship, but I say “God, help me” and exit my car.

     I place the envelopes inside my roomy black purse and clutch the painting and coffee in both hands, which makes opening the door to the second building problematic. I walk in, not expecting a soul, but I’m greeted with “Good morning” by three adolescent girls standing at a counter. One of them is Maddie, Khristian and Sonya’s daughter. Her long brown hair is free from the secured braid that I’ve seen in every picture of her; it cascades in long, dark waves down the back of her floor length purple dress. My heart feels as if it is going to pop out of my mouth. The three girls look towards me with curiosity.

     “Hi. Um, I’m looking for ____ ___________. Is she here?” My voice quivers.

     Maddie steps out from behind the counter. I want to tell her so much—that her dad loved her and wanted nothing more in life than to meet her and that her Mom is a lovely, intelligent woman but she’s stuck behind prison walls and can’t reach out to her. She points towards the hall.

     “She’s down that hallway in the kids’ room.”


     I take two steps forward and then freeze in place—this is it—what am I waiting for? Maddie is now behind the counter with the two other girls. I quickly walk over unsure of what to say. Meeting her without one of her parents glued to her side wasn’t how I envisioned this thing happening.

     “Are you Maddie?”


    “Hi. I have something for you.” I hand her the painting. She gently takes it from my hands and holds it by the outside edges, like one would hold a photograph so as not to smudge the picture. She studies the words on it—“My Daughter, My Heart.” 
     “It’s from your mother. Your biological mother,” I clarify, hoping to impose some sort of understanding.

     One of the girls says, “What?” as if this was the craziest thing she’d ever heard. Oh God, what have I done? I dig through my purse and grab the letter addressed to her.

    “This is a letter from her to you.” 
    “Thank you,” she says and takes it from my trembling hands.

   “I’m sorry. I’m really nervous. I’m going to go talk to _________.”

   I high tail it to the hallway, leaving these three sheltered girls with the after effects of my verbal bomb. I don’t even have three seconds to compose myself. _______ and an older woman with black hair in a bun eye me suspiciously as I walk towards them. I can’t catch my breath.

   “Hi, um, my name is Pamela Skjolsvik, uh, and I’m a friend of your sisters,” I say, my voice sounding as if I’ve just finished a relay race.

   ________’s strawberry blonde hair is piled into a bun with a few loose curls that frame her makeup free face. She looks at me quizzically.

   “Sister?” she questions.


   _________’s facial expressions change from perplexed to pure anger and it’s directed at me, the messenger. The black haired woman who isn’t as colorfully ornamented as ______ steps in closer to her to block my entrance into the room.

   “I have a letter from her to you. I just need to get it out of my purse.”

   I walk between them, deeper into the room and plop my purse and coffee onto a low table and proceed to rifle through my bag. These two women probably think I have a lot of gall to invade their space, but if they could only listen to the sound of my pounding heart, they’d realize how afraid I am.

   “Here,” I say and hand her the letter. “Sonya wants visitation with her daughter.”

   “Uh, huh.” ________ backs away from me as if I have horns and a tail.

   “That’s it.” I say. No big deal. I sling the bulky purse over my shoulder and step out into the hallway and almost as an afterthought, I turn back towards the two women.

   “I also gave a letter to Madison.”

   Both women sprint from the room in different directions like some sort of folk family swat team. When I exit the building, I find that Maddie and her two friends have disappeared from behind the counter. The black haired woman follows me out into the courtyard. She is joined by the man I saw earlier in the black suit. They stand on the steps of their church and watch me—the bumbling messenger of doom—as I search through every nook and cranny of my purse to find my keys.

   Once inside the safety of my car, I lock the doors and call Erik. The man and woman stare in the direction of my car with stern expressions, their arms folded firmly across their chests. Part of me wants them to feel a bit of the panic that I felt entering their domain. I just sit there taunting them with my inactivity, but as soon as Erik answers, a flood of suppressed emotion gushes out of me, something I don’t want them to see—I’m human and I’m scared. I pull out of the lot—one hand on my phone and one hand on the wheel. No matter how justified I feel that what I’ve done is right, I feel as reckless as if I’d brandished a gun.