Yesterday’s announcement that MH370 crashed into the ocean finally dealt the critical blow to family members who have been clinging to hope for a fortnight. I don’t need to watch it to know how they feel, and it’s a shame that their pain was broadcast on TV. I hope we learn as a society to grant privacy in the wake of disasters. The various news agencies are capable of reporting the scene at the airport (where families gathered) without filming it. Nobody wants to be on camera during his or her worst moment.
As a twenty-year-old co-pilot at a regional airline (many moons ago) I asked an older (by a few years) Captain Tony Anger for advice about loss and grief. He told me: “We never get over the pain; we just learn to make friends with it.” That message stuck with me as I faced my own times of great loss—first with the passing of my mom (1989), and then with the sudden death of my fiancée Susanne onboard TWA Flight 800 (1996). Tony’s message was more clear—and less clichéd than—“Time heals all wounds,” but still the problem of passing painful times persists. As the spark of becoming a writer ignited inside my brain, I penned a survivor’s guilt story and passed my own grief on to a pair of imaginary friends in Pushing Leaves Towards the Sun; and to this day I give it away for FREE as an audiobook on iTunes>Podcasts.
During my own darkest times of mourning, I found loneliness to be a predominant emotion. I am blessed with many friends, but eventually I worried about wearing them all out with my constant maudlin presence. Even as an extrovert, I found myself pulling away. The world moved on without me, and I couldn’t get into gear. I think isolation is an unfortunate result of sudden loss, regardless of how aggressively a person’s support circle tries to engage them. For this reason I put my protagonists Billy (a bartender) and Lindy (an aspiring musician) though the death of their best friend Oso, and then they kept me company with their ongoing struggle. Pushing Leaves Towards the Sun is not a self-help book, and it isn’t preachy. I wrote it as a companion for those struggling with grief, survivor’s guilt, and the loss of a loved-one.
Unique about my novel are a dozen original companion songs that are woven into the story. While Billy anaesthetizes himself with excessive drinking, one-night stands, and reckless driving (his fuck-it, ‘life is short’ reaction to his overwhelming emotions), Lindy tries therapy and introspection while venting her feelings through lyrics. These songs come to life in the audio version of the novel, which is why I give it away free in this format. Also, I want people suffering from sudden loss to have someone to turn to at any hour of the day or night, even if these new friends are fictional.
Pushing Leaves Towards the Sun is my gift to the grieving community. It may not make you feel better, but it is my hope that it will help you feel less alone in your struggle.
Pushing Leaves Towards the Sun is the story I wrote before tackling my own true story about TWA Flight 800: 13,760 Feet–My Personal Hole in the Sky.
Pushing Leaves Towards the Sun – 30-second promo
Promo Video by Brian Jessip
Video Music by Kim Smith
This audiobook can be heard for free in its entirety on Podiobooks.com and iTunes>Podcasts.