2 Years…

I’ve learned a lot since May 30, 2019.

I’ve learned that grief cannot be rushed, that you don’t wake up one day healed.

I’ve learned healing and closure are myths. Loss forces new adjustments to life.

I’ve learned it’s okay to put myself first and I’m not responsible for the feelings—or lack thereof—of others about MY loss.

I’ve learned it’s okay to say no… to everyone.

I’ve learned doctors don’t know everything, or when it comes to grief, anything at all.

I’ve learned who my true friends are.

I’ve learned I don’t have to feel guilty about laughing and enjoying myself.

I’ve learned loss doesn’t change the person I am.

I’ve learned it’s okay to laugh and cry at the same time.

I’ve been reminded how amazing my three children are.

And I’ve learned my grief journey can only be taken one day at a time, one breath at a time… even when it hurts.

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#FlashFiction Frozen in Time, Part IV

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Frozen in Time, Part IV

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15 Years later

“In closing, as we leave this place, let us remember Margaret Jean Merchant for her glowing smile and giving soul. She touched the lives of us all, and lives on in our hearts.”

The tears she’d held at bay spilled down Petra’s cheeks as she watched the mortuary staff remove the flowers from the casket. Ladies from Maggie’s church came forth to gather the arrangements and take them out to waiting vehicles for the ride to the cemetery.

She watched the ladies, trying to look anywhere but at the casket. But when the casket’s latch was slid into place, it echoed against the high vaulted ceilings of the chapel… and straight to Petra’s core, shattering what was left of her broken heart.

A low moan escaped her lips, followed by deep sobs. Leonard wrapped an arm around her shoulder and pulled his sister close. “It’s okay, sis. It’s going to be okay.”

Petra couldn’t respond, but she knew things would never be the same again.

To be continued

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©2021 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Happy Heavenly Birthday!

Where would I be without my children? They make everything better! ❤

Remembering their dad today on his birthday with another cake themed on his favorite show, “Archer” made by our always amazing friend and cake-boss, Elyse Martinez. (The red cake is from 2017 and he loved it! The flowers are from my sis, Melissa.)

Continue to rest in peace, babe. You are missed every day. ❤❤


#Repost Frozen in Time, Part III

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Originally posted December 2018 as part of my #52Weeks52Stories Challenge

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#52weeks52stories: Week 47

Word prompt: smack

Word count – 724

Reading time – 2 mins, 14 secs

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Frozen in Time, Part III

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Luci Gwynn yammered on about sanity napkins and belts as Petra huddled in the sofa’s corner clutching a hot water bottle against her stomach.

Neither of them heard Vance enter.

“What’s wrong with her?”

Startled, Luci looked up at her husband then smiled toward her daughter.

“My little girl’s growing up and entering womanhood.”

“Damn. Now I’ve got to keep an eye on her little hot ass, so she doesn’t go whoring around like the rest of the women in your family.”

Luci’s mouth gaped open in surprise and outrage, but she never got to respond.

Propelled forward by hate, disgust, and a new influx of hormones, Petra pounced on her father, hitting, biting, and scratching in a frenzy of rage.

Caught off-guard and stunned at first, Vance swept his arms down his body, knocking Petra to the floor.

She rose to her knees, panting like an animal ready to attack again, but Vance backed away looking at his hands and arms and feeling his face.

Undeterred, Petra tried to advance on him, but Luci wrapped her arms around her from behind, holding her back.

Vance left the room without a word, the only sound being the opening and closing of the front door.

Loosening her grip, Luci spun her daughter around. “What is wrong with you?”

Still shaking while hostility and loathing coursed through her, Petra was defiant.

“I hate him.”

“But what if he doesn’t come back?”

“Good.”

Luci’s anger grew to match her daughter’s.

“Good? What’s good about it? What about me, Petra?”

The teen sneered. “No more beatings and bruises.”

She knew the slap was coming and didn’t flinch.

Horrified by her own actions, Luci yanked her arm back, clutching her hands to her chest.

“Petra, baby, I’m so sorry.”

Petra back away, her sneer replaced by a smile, then giggles.

Luci reached out for her daughter, but Petra stepped back farther. Her giggles grew to roaring laughter.

“Petra… -”

Wrapping her arms around her stomach, Petra doubled over and tried to speak through gasps for air.

“This… is great. Daddy gives you a black eye for… something as dumb as wearing the wrong dress… and you take it. But you have no problem slapping me for standing up to the big bully.”

“Petra, baby… you don’t understand -”

“Shut up! Don’t say that! Don’t tell me I don’t understand.”

Her laughter abated, Petra rose to her full height.

“Me, Arnold and Leonard have tried to understand our entire lives. We sneak into each other’s rooms and cry together. We’ve been to the library, digging through books on domestic violence because we can’t tell anybody. We can’t ask for help, because we’ll be separated, and Arnie and Len are all I have. So, we decided you put up with daddy to protect us.” She scoffed. “But now I know we were wrong, mama. We’ve always been wrong. It’s about you, only you.”

“No, you’re wrong, baby. I do it for you and your brothers.”

“None of us should have ever been born. This isn‘t a family, it‘s a prison camp.”

“Don’t say that! You kids are everything to me.”

She hung her head in shame.

“Yes, your father hits me, but he’s never hit you. He’s never hurt any of you.”

“Hurt me? Did you see him, mama? I’m his daughter… a thirteen-year-old girl. He didn’t hit me—he didn’t fight back, and not because he’s some noble father. That was fear in his eyes. He’s not used to being challenged. Not used to anyone fighting back. You should try it sometime.”

Luci’s face crumpled at the truth of her daughter’s words.

“But you know what, mama? You don‘t have to use fists to hurt someone.”

Her words were heavy and toneless, and her body sagged, the emotional burden taking its toll.

Repeating her father’s movements, Petra backed toward the doorway.

“But he can’t hurt me anymore, mama. And he’ll never hurt me again.”

Reaching the doorway, Petra glared at the woman who’d given her life.

“And neither will you.”

“Petra!”

Ignoring Luci, she turned and left the room, not stopping until she reached the sanctuary of her bedroom.

Petra Gwynn remembered that day, not for the onset of her periods and the first step toward adulthood, but as the day both her parents no longer mattered to her.

To be continued

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©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#Repost Frozen in Time, Part II

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Originally posted December 2018 as part of my #52Weeks52Stories Challenge

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#52weeks52stories: Week 46

Word prompt: smack

Word count – 414

Reading time – 1 mins, 43 secs

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Frozen in Time, Part II

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Vance Gwynn was a mountain of a man who used his bulk to intimidate his wife, Luci.

When his size and words failed, he pummeled her plus-size body with his massive fists.

Luci not only took the beatings, but she’d also always apologize and promise to be a better wife.

She shielded and protected him from law enforcement and concerned neighbors and praised him to their three children.

To no avail.

By the time Petra was eight, she had a deep, soul-wrenching hatred for her father, as did her two older brothers, Arnold and Leonard.

Vance saved the physical abuse for Luci, visiting verbal and psychological tirades on his children instead.

Regardless of how much they grew, the Gwynn children only received new school clothes every other year. Their ill-fitting apparel made Petra and her brothers the targets of abuse and bullying at school. The thrift store items Luci bought to bolster their wardrobe only worsened their plight.

Birthdays and Christmas weren’t recognized, and Vance’s practice of destroying any gifts sent by extended family ceased the flow of gifts… and communication.

The siblings grew closer, bound by their misery, their confusion about their mother’s complacency, and their intense hatred for their father.

At the end of his last year in junior high, Leonard received an engraved plaque for maintaining a perfect 4.0-grade average—the only one in the district at the junior high level. He was on-track to receive multiple scholarships for college.

He beamed with pride when he presented the award to his mother that evening. Leonard refused to allow her blatant indifference to steal his joy.

Vance took care of that.

Snatching the plaque from Luci’s hands, he banged it against the kitchen sink then dropped it in the trash.

“Stop acting like a girl. It’s just a hunk of wood and means nothing. You’ll still end up cleaning hubcaps down at Remington Car Wash… you and your brother. That’s all you’re good for.”

Standing at just under six-feet-tall, Leonard was bigger than most of the boys in his ninth-grade class, but he was almost a hundred pounds smaller than his father.

Still, his murderous glare that followed Vance as he sauntered from the kitchen both scared and excited Petra.

She didn’t want her brother to get hurt, but had he grabbed a knife from the butcher block and ran after their father, she wouldn’t have stopped him.

Just as she couldn’t stop herself two weeks later.

To be continued

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©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#Repost Frozen in Time

Frozen in Time banner

Originally posted December 2018 as part of my #52Weeks52Stories Challenge

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#52weeks52stories: Week 52

Word prompt: smack

Word count – 429

Reading time – 1 mins, 42 secs

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Frozen in Time, Part 1

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“Please don’t come here again.”

The battered woman trailing police to the front door turned and whispered in a hard voice, “You don’t understand. This was my fault. I shouldn’t have pushed Elliott about coats for the kids.”

Petra Gwynn smirked. “You remind your husband your three children are wearing nylon jackets in freezing temps and he has the right to smack you around?”

Sonia Milan glanced over her shoulder at the cops standing next to their squad cars.

“Elliott’s been through a lot. He lost his mom at a young age… lost friends while serving in the middle-east and got an injury that ended his military career. He has to be handled a certain way.”

“Bullshit! He’s not the first person to lose someone or get injured in combat. Those are excuses, Sonia.” She turned her neighbor toward the hallway mirror. “Look at your face. That’s not how you treat someone you love.”

Sonia’s temper flared, and she whirled around to face her neighbor.

“Don’t you dare judge my husband. You have no idea what it’s like for him. Keep your opinions to yourself and mind your own damn business.”

Petra clenched her fists hanging at her sides.

The freakin’ nerve!

She approached Sonia until their noses were almost touching.

“That’s exactly what I was doing until you banged on my door. You cried out for my help. You begged me to call the police.”

She brushed past her clueless neighbor and stood by the open front door.

“And you are leaving my home… now.”

Kowtowed, Sonia turned for the front door.

Petra thrust her arm out blocking the woman’s path.

“He needs help, Sonia, before something even worse happens. But if you don’t care about yourself or somehow feel you deserve to be his punching bag, think of your children. They see everything and forget nothing. And it’s doing more damage than you can ever imagine.”

Sonia’s jaws tightened, and she pushed past Petra, storming down the walkway.

Closing the door, Petra sagged against it as the anger dissipated from her body.

I shouldn’t have lost my temper. Sonia needs understanding, not my contempt. Elliott has beaten her down so low, she believes she’s to blame for his shortcomings.

Petra slid to the floor, remembering the look of terror in her neighbor’s eyes when she’d first answered the door.

It was the same look she’d seen in her own mother’s eyes for most of her life.

To be continued

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©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

What a Mess! Who Wrote All This?


Pulled out ALL my works-in-progress today and was absolutely floored!

There are three, as in 1, 2, 3 books so close to completion, it’s ridiculous. They even have covers.

I also found:

  • three short story anthologies that need a final edit
  • eleven outlined stories
  • drabbles
  • poetry
  • song lyrics

… and a cute story about a little frog that I don’t even remember writing.

Looks like I have my work cut out for me through the end of the year and beyond.

But my first two projects will be to get Family Matters, book 2 to In the Best Interest of the Child out of my hands and into the hands of readers who continue to ask for it. Many thanks for staying with me. Olivia Chandler, Bruce Bellamy and the Bellamy crew will be back with you in 2021.

I’ll also being doing my part to complete book one of a medical thriller series I’m co-writing with a partner who has the patience of the saints for waiting patiently for me for two years. Will definitely be bringing my A-game for that.

I’ll be checking in with writing updates for accountability. I don’t want to lose my momentum.

And I’ll be sharing free reads here too so please check back often.

I’ve got to do something with my frog story. 🙂


Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash


Behind Every Cloud

silver lining

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Without a plan, outline, and most days, a clue, I’ve completed my first AtoZ Challenge! *Trumpet fanfare*

Taking it one letter at a time, and many deep breaths, I shared some of the feelings I’ve experienced since losing my husband and my mom in 2019.

Participating in the challenge gave me a measure of clarity and freed me of more anxiety than I thought possible.

But it also did something else.

It had me in front of my laptop writing! *The crowd gasps*

With more than a few sequels and wips in progress, I’ve accomplished nothing in the last two years.

But grief didn’t suddenly strip me of the desire to write.

Den and Mom were my two biggest cheerleaders, and the last thing they would want is for me to stop writing.

However, slowly over time, the ability to write left me like a slow leak until I was empty.

I tried, with no success.

So I was little more than a house plant that read books.

Then, fellow blogger/author, Marquessa, hosted a March Writing Challenge and I joined AND completed it.

For very personal reasons, I was motivated to join and complete the AtoZ Challenge, which as of today, gives me SIXTY-TWO consecutive days of writing! *And the crowd goes wild!*

Not a biggie for some, but HUUUUGE for me at this point!

What will I write about tomorrow?

I have NO idea!

But there will be writing!

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PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

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#AtoZChallenge Z is For Zero

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There are zero days left in April.

There are zero days left in the challenge… that I never intended on entering!

And I have zero regrets about any of it.

I’m not going to lie, It wasn’t easy.

There were days when I wanted to close the laptop and hide.

But I’d quit enough times. It was time to see a project through to its completion.

And  I did.

I won’t say things like, “It healed me,” or “I had a life-changing revelation,” or “The heavens opened to a choirs of angels singing.” But sharing my grief journey this month has helped.

Den’s birthday and the second anniversary of his death are both in May. They haven’t been easy days in the past, and may not be easy this year, but I’ll face them both with a sense of gratitude and hope for the future instead of heartbreak and hopelessness.

I hope blog visitors on their own grief journeys found some solace here, and those who aren’t perhaps found some understanding.

If you have an #AtoZChallenge I missed, please leave a link in the comments and I’ll stop by.

🙂

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On May 30, 2019, I lost Dennis, my husband of over thirty-five years. Ten short weeks later on August 18, 2019, I lost my eighty-four-year-old mother. My grief journey has not been an easy one. While we know grief has five stages, there are many situations and feelings some bereaved never get to express, and I’m using my first AtoZ Challenge to say things I’ve never been able to give voice to. I hope you’ll follow my journey.

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Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

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