Yesterday was the six-month anniversary of my craniotomy to remove a grade II meningioma. That’s kind of amazing. It both doesn’t feel like that long and yet feels like an eternity ago. I’m still healing. Still figuring out the way my brain works now. Still finding workarounds to some of the maybe-permanent brain damage the tumor and surgery caused.
But I’m here. That’s huge. And I’m doing remarkably well, all things considered. So, I’m really grateful.
I was reminded of how lucky I am that all went well last week, when I discovered that two of my high school classmates have died in the past two months.
The first died of ovarian cancer. I knew her but not particularly well. But still. F@&% cancer.
The second died of a heart attack. He was a great guy. A good friend. Someone I’ve thought about reconnecting with over the years but couldn’t seem to track down. And now, it’s too late. He’s gone. At 46.
We were also dealing with trauma of a different kind last week with my daughter. She’s been through a lot the past few years. And on Thursday, she faced what is becoming all too common in our schools: a threat of physical violence, and a menacing one. A classmate wrote in her math notebook the following: “I am hunting you Nola.”
Worse still, we have no idea who did it. But the school is leaving no stone unturned to find out. They are in frequent communication with me and I with them. Her teacher is making sure she feels safe, as is the vice principle conducting the investigation. As am I. That is my job.
But, ugh. No kid needs this. And for Nola, it’s bringing back the feelings of being bullied and unsafe she experienced in second grade when a student, after bullying her for most of the year, threated to stalk her and made a throat-slitting motion. At that point I gave the school no choice but to move her to a different classroom immediately.
Now, Nola stands up to bullies. She’ll fearlessly defend her fellow students in a heartbeat, even if she doesn’t particularly like the person being bullied. This kind of behavior is unacceptable to her (as it should be to everyone), and she won’t tolerate it. But she’s still 9. And she’s still human. No matter how strong we are, it’s hard. And it’s traumatic.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how we deal with trauma for all of these reasons. And I keep thinking about a book by Kristine Kathryn Rusch I published years ago called Bleed Through.
We kept putting off the release of this fantastic book, which addresses the traumatic aftermath of a school shooting, because every time we were set to release it, another school shooting would make the news. Eventually, we decided that our only option was to do a silent release. Just publish it. No advertising. No big marketing push. Just get it out there and hope people find it on their own.
Kris and I both feel awkward about promoting it even now. Which is a shame considering what a compelling novel it is. Really, it’s a story about healing. And I fervently hope that someday, we don’t live in a world where school violence happens with such frequency that I have to worry about releasing a book that deals with it.
If you would like to read more about Bleed Through, click here.
In the meantime, reach out to people you’ve been meaning to connect with. Hug your kids. Tell your spouse how much you appreciate them.
As a close friend of mine (who also had brain surgery within the last year at the same hospital) reminds me often: YOLO. You only live once.
And taking that to heart, I promise that next week’s Publisher’s Note will be of a much cheerier nature.
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.