Every now and then my book Holding Avery gets entered into a contest – the latest was the Foreword Reviews‘ 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards. It’s a well-known competition in the literary world, with other winners being the likes of screenwriter Zack Whedon and the infamous Dalai Lama, to name a few.
When I found out I was a finalist a few months ago I was thrilled; I know it’s entirely cliche, but, given the competition, it truly was an honor to be nominated. I knew that winning was a long shot. The awards were given out this past Friday night at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in San Francisco. I wasn’t there – I was sitting on the couch watching House Hunters International with a very jet-lagged husband who had just returned from a work trip overseas. I was trying to convince him that it was completely practical for us to move to St. Croix when I got the email. The winners had been announced, and I had to blink a few times before I processed that it was Holding Avery that won the Gold in the Grief/Grieving category. My little book, my little story, my little daughter – the big winner.
It’s exciting being a winner. It’s incredible to have people talking about Holding Avery, to have people recognizing it not just for the writing but also for broaching an uncomfortable subject that is often ignored. It’s not The Nobel Prize but it’s enough to make me feel special for a few days, to reaffirm that I made the right choice writing such a personal book in the first place. Winning is also very timely.
Avery was born on July 2, just three days from today. (It’s 1:32 p.m. as I type this; she was born at 1:43 p.m.) Surprisingly, July 2 doesn’t really bother me – it’s tomorrow, June 30, that puts the pit in my stomach. If you’ve read my book you know that June 30 was a pretty boring pregnant day back in 2008. I took a walk, I ate a sandwich, I went to Target. A few things happened that had me convinced Avery was on her way, and just past midnight my water broke. Seven years later I still find myself doing a play-by-play of that day, wondering how and why things turned out the way they did. I said it in my book and I stand by it today – as the years pass, it doesn’t get easier. It gets different. I already feel the beginnings of that squirm in my stomach, that feeling of sadness and loss blended with the happiness of the beautiful life we’ve built post-Avery. This year I can add the accolades of my book, Avery’s book, to that cocktail of confusion.
Yes. It’s nice to be a winner. But I’ll never forget that Avery’s loss is what made this all possible in the first place. Happy Birthday, sweet girl. This year you won the Gold.