Yesterday was a rough day for me. I spent a lot of time on the NaNoWriMo site, and for some reason, I kept clicking on a particular name in my “writing buddies” list. This particular name has only one buddy–me–and nothing at all under “Novel Info”. Under “Author Info”, it lists her as an official participant, but with zero posts, and nothing at all under her NaNoWriMo history, though she actually joined October 29, 2006, and participated that year, though she did not win.
Location: Oasadena CA
Favorite novels: To Kill A Mockingbird, Miss lonelyhearts, Confederandcy of Dunces, Scavenger Reef, History of Love,
Favorite music: none — random nighttime noises
Non-noveling interests: astrology, camping,
There is no picture there, although there was one once, her bald head shining. I look at the typos, and know they’re there because she had trouble seeing the screen, that for her, typing had become difficult and painful. I know all those books, know them because she loved them, because she told me about them, because when times were rough or times were good, we could talk books, and astrology, camping, and more. We could talk about anything.
I know that the categories in her profile that are empty are because she’s not here anymore, and there is no one to fill them, or to fill all the other spaces in the world that she once occupied.
I doubt that when she was looking back on her life in her last few weeks as she was slipping away from us this summer, she thought much about NaNoWriMo. She participated for me, because I loved it so much, because I looked forward to it every year, because I talked to her about it, about my characters, about writing on tiny slips of paper in the metro, and while racing against people in timed challenges online or in person. As I did with so much of my life, I shared it with her, and in this case, she was able to join me in something I loved.
Although she only participated herself the once, this will be the first year I write without her. She’s always been there before, to talk about characterization, to provide answers to questions, to read first drafts, or at least, the part of them I let other people see. And perhaps that’s why I keep going back: to affirm that some part of her still exists in this part of my life.
I write this year in memory of my mother, Elizabeth Dawn Stierman, aka “baldini.”