When things are stressful or upsetting I have a tendency to turtle and withdraw. If you’ve seen less of me around lately, it’s because the past six months have been long and difficult. Since I’m trying to get back into the swing of things, I thought I’d just give a not-so-quick summary of why I’ve been so scarce.

In August, my dad passed away after a long battle with cancer. I was back home for a month to deal with that as best I could including some long, heartbreaking days at the hospice. My stepmother is great, though, and had everything super organized. During that time my mother was also diagnosed with dementia and her driver’s license was revoked. Given my mother’s self-absorption (which is only exacerbated by her condition) she didn’t seem to care at all that my trip home wasn’t about her, which made it all the more stressful.

Nineteen days after my dad’s funeral, I was flying to Hawaii for a family vacation with my in-laws. Hawaii was beautiful, my in-laws were great, but I wasn’t at all in the mindset for a vacation and it might have been the worst vacation I’ve ever taken. I just couldn’t get in the right mood.

Ten days after I got home from Hawaii, I was headed back out to Chicago for GayRomLit. There was a time, earlier this year, that I was disappointed my internet screwed up and didn’t let me register as an author. I signed up as a reader because I still wanted to attend but I was hopeful I’d be moved from the waitlist to author status. It never happened, and when I got there, I’d never been more grateful for that. GRL was the first real relaxation I’d had since August, relaxation I never would have gotten with the added stress of meeting obligations as an author. It was a wonderful time where I could (mostly) forget what was going on in real life. My book club ladies were a real boon, and we had a blast.

When I got home from GRL, I expected to start getting back into a routine then, although I was also trying to research retirement homes for my mother, and trying to get friends to go visit the various places in my stead. But by this time, I could tell the dementia was getting worse and I was dealing with a number of people calling – social services, health care workers, my family, and lots and lots of confused calls from my mother.

I was home for another sixteen days before a hospital stay and a doctor refusing to allow my mother to return to her home, based on her inability to care for herself, saw me flying back again.

It took another month to deal with the move to an assisted living facility and leave the remaining loose ends with a family member who has power of attorney. I just got back home on Sunday, and I think things will be stable for a while so I can get back into my regular routine. Needless to say, I haven’t done much writing, although I did complete a book shortly before my dad died. I will have some news on that soon.

I’m so very thankful that I have some really great people in my life to help me through it. Unfortunately, my hubby wasn’t able to accompany me for most of my time home, but he was there for me by phone and he eased my mind because I knew our 17 year old cat was in good hands. My cousin and her husband need a shout out, because they’re going to be stuck dealing with the worst of my mother’s nonsense (not just her condition, but the fact that my mother isn’t a particularly pleasant woman) and I appreciate them stepping up.

My friends and in-laws did so much to help out, offering rides, offering meals, offering help with moving and cleaning (OMG so much random stuff in my mother’s place), or just plain offering a much-needed ear so I could vent. I stayed with my in-laws in August, and my friend Dot in November. My in-laws are fantastic, and so supportive. As for Dot, I owe her so much more than I can repay – she came with me to the hospice, she always had hugs when I needed them, she took my mom’s cat into her already crowded menagerie. She’s going to check up on my mom periodically. She also let me stay with her while I was home in November. When was the last time you crashed with a friend for an entire month? Especially when you’ve got to sleep on a futon in their living room? We’ve been friends forever (well, since we were ten) and the friendship is just as easy and comfortable as it’s ever been. I don’t know if I would have survived mentally if it hadn’t been for her. Naturally, she’s got favours locked in from now until the end of time 😉 although she knows I’d do the same for her if our situations were reversed.

I just wanted to let everyone know why I’d disappeared. I have an awesome street team and assistance with my FB page, thanks to Smexy and Fabulous. My posts aren’t too prolific anyway since the day job takes up a lot of time too, but you should start seeing more of me, and hopefully some more bitching and whining about manuscripts that aren’t going well or characters that are determined to do their own thing, no matter what plans I have for them.