The Void

I’m doing something big tonight. Something I’m proud of myself for. Something that is wildly outside of my comfort zone. I’ve written a very raw piece about motherhood, and I’ll be reading that piece in front of approximately 650 people. But one important person won’t be there: my mother.

I’m doing something big tonight. Something I’m proud of myself for. Something that is wildly outside of my comfort zone. I’ve written a very raw piece about motherhood, and I’ll be reading that piece – alongside 13 other amazing women – in front of approximately 650 people. No pressure. 

I’m excited, yet terrified. I love to write. I love when people read what I write. But I don’t love reading what I write to people, in person, while I can see and hear their reactions. Or, frankly, reading on a stage, with a mic, to a sold-out theater. This is a bucket-list moment I never knew I needed or wanted. A moment in which I’m going to truly challenge myself to do a thing I’m terrified to do: speak and be personally raw, in front of a packed room of listeners.

This show is all about motherhood – all stages of it, from desperately wanting to be a mother, to the fear of being a mother, to the joys and struggles that follow every part of motherhood, to remembering moments with our own mothers, to watching those mothers age and decline. Stitched together, the compilation of our stories creates a full-circle tapestry of motherhood and all its complicated, emotional, and beautiful facets. 

But I can’t help but fixate on something – or rather, someone – that won’t be there tonight. My own mother. The loss I feel here – the loss I feel on a daily basis – is overwhelming. She and my dad were always my greatest supporters when it came to my creative and literary efforts. 

She would have loved this evening. She would have loved listening to all the different stories about motherhood because she loved motherhood so much. She used to tell me constantly how the greatest joy in her life was being my mom, and how watching me grow into a woman gave her so much pleasure. She never missed a dance recital, a play, a school event, or anything I was a part of. Until.. until she started aging and her memory began to lapse. 

Today, dementia has taken over. If I told her I was in this show reading one of my essays, she’d be so proud of me for a minute… and then completely forget about it the next. 

Most days I manage my emotions rather well about this awful disease and the mother it so cruelly stole from me. But on other days, like Mother’s Day, and on this day when I want nothing more than my own mother’s love and support, it stings. I find myself trying to fill that void in so many ways, but I can’t. The one person I so desperately want in that audience simply won’t be there. Not tonight. Not any night. 

And so, the show must go on. I will take a deep breath, face my fears, get up on that stage, and read. Though I won’t see her face when I look out into the audience, I will see my spouse, my friends, my family, and so many other supportive and lovely faces. Though my deep longing for my parents will be ever-present, these people – my family and friends – that I love so deeply and am so grateful for, soften that cavernous void immensely and remind me how truly blessed I am.

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Stella’s Brave Voice follows the twins from The Only Me and has earned a 5-star Book Review Award from Litpick and Reader’s Favorite. 

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The Only Me was named one of the top 100 indie children’s books of 2022 by Kirkus Reviews and earned a 5-star Book Review Award from Litpick. 

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