Two things I knew with absolute certainty.
First, I was falling apart...
the brother I'd relied on so heavily had vanished.
And second, there would never come a moment
when I'd understand why I'd been set on this journey.
Those are the opening words on the back cover of my upcoming book release.
I know, I know! Crazy, right? Never did I imagine I would have the opportunity to publish a book...but there it is.
My big secret...finally out in the open.
Now you know why I've been absent in the blogging community (which I've missed like crazy, by the way). I signed a book contract just three weeks after I started blogging, so I feel I've never really had the time to focus on making Kristina J. what I wanted it to be. Interacting with all of you quickly became my favorite thing about blogging, and writing this book seriously cut into my social blogging time!
(My brother, Nathaniel and me, 1998)
Those of you who've been with me from the beginning already know my eighteen year old brother drowned when I was a teenager. In the summer of 2009, I wrote out the emotional guts of my story...after Nathaniel died, I disappeared into silence and I wanted to explain, to have something tangible to hand to my parents, and then to my children in the hope they might one day understand the part of me they've never known.
I never planned on getting my manuscript published. When I was contacted by an admissions editor at a publishing house, I walked forward with a lot of trepidation. I had written it for me and my family as a way to process what I'd experienced, to get those emotions out of my head, and the details seemed too personal. I didn't try to white-wash the emotional fallout of those years following Nathaniel's death, so it's written in a way that's really candid and transparent. Even now, the thought of people reading about the half-lit years of my life makes me feel completely vulnerable.
My book is not a self-help book. It isn't me saying, "I've experienced grief and this is how you deal with it."
It's a narrative account of my struggle to redefine normal in the aftermath of tragic circumstances.
I know my brother's death wasn't the most noble or tragic in history...to the rest of the world, his exit from human existence was unremarkable. But for me, no other death could have so abruptly altered my life.
I've spent the past seven months working with an editor to fill in details that I didn't originally include in the first draft, to sort of flesh out the narrative a bit, and as of a few weeks ago, I completed the final draft of my manuscript which is currently being typeset. I've been sneaking you little excerpts from my book for a couple months now, and if you read this blog, you've read more of my book than what's included on the official After Nathaniel website!
Change is an inevitable part of life, bringing bright skies one day and dark storms the next. Life can be comfortable, and then, without warning, tilt to a place that is completely unrecognizable. This blog is evidence that my life is in a pretty comfortable place right now. I feel free to design a space that is beautiful just for the sake of beauty--to create...to discover...to learn. But that pure, white-hot freedom--that absolute comfort we feel when life is as it should be is what makes the pain of the unforeseen so awful. This book is my story--of a time before life was compounded by tragedy and of what came after....