What is Love?

Love is strength. 

Love is unfaltering. 

Love is sometimes doing the hard thing. 

 

Since I write a lot of romance in my novels, it might be easy to be swept into the mindset that everything is happily-ever-after, and it is easy, and it is effortless.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I was thinking about it this morning, after having to have a difficult talk with a family member.

Love is sometimes doing the hard thing.  Sometimes, it’s saying something difficult.

Sometimes, it’s doing something difficult– like when I had to stand my ground with my son who was struggling with addiction.  When he was in the active throes of addiction, I had to do the hard thing and not give him money– because I knew he’d use it to buy drugs.  It was hard.  SO hard.  Because I was afraid he was hungry or cold– and he’d tell me he was, and my mother’s heart would break.

But I had to do the hard thing.

I had to be firm.  I had to be unfaltering.  I had to be strong when he couldn’t be.

Love is being there for someone, even when it’s a truth they don’t want to hear.

Love, in it’s truest form, is the greatest gift we can give someone.  It is pure.  It is strong.  It isn’t all shininess and light.  It is rugged and tough, because it has to be.  Sometimes, it looks ugly, but in reality, it is the most beautiful thing in the world.

Love someone today.  Love them with your whole heart.  Life is too short not to.

 

What my other son has taught me

Happy 19th birthday, Tristan.

A few months ago, I announced to the world that my oldest son, my 22-year old son, Gunner, is a drug addict.  I expressed my heart-ache and the rocky journey.

Today, I want to talk about my other son, my middle child, Tristan.

 

^^ This is him mid-sentence, because he is always always talking.^^

Tristan is funny.  He’s determined.  When he wants something, he focuses on it with laser precision.  He’s my 6’4″ man-boy.  At times, he’s as fierce as a warrior, at other times, he’s sneaking around corners like a ninja to scare me.  He puts terrifying pictures onto my phone’s wallpaper to startle me, then laughs ridiculously when I scream.  He throws a blanket from the couch onto his back like a cape and tackles the dog.

He target-shoots, he makes detailed leatherwork, he’s an archer.  He works on a farm, hefting 50-pound sacks of fertilizer around on each shoulder.  He loves DisneyWorld with the rest of us- his favorite ride is Peter Pan.  He loves Harry Potter, and he’s a Gryffindor, of course. He’s a surfer, a swimmer, an outdoorsman.

He decided a few months ago, that he will serve in our nation’s military.  He wants to be a Marine, and not only that, but his goal is to be on a special forces team.  He wants to be elite.  He wants to be the most badass of the badass.  Because if he does something, he does it all the way.

Since he made that decision, he’s been getting up at 4am to go to the gym before school.  He wants to prepare himself for the early mornings and tough regime of Marine basic training.  He’s done all the research he can do, to prepare himself to become a warrior.  He leaves in September for boot camp.

Even still, he’s still my boy.  He still has a boyish spirit that alternates with his very adult goals.  This picture was of him from awhile back– he’d come downstairs with his shirt tied up like a bikini top and flexing like Mr. Universe.

tristan-weird

I voted for Hillary.  I won’t bore you with the details of why, because everyone has an opinion, and I respect those opinions.  My son voted for Hillary too.  It was his first year to vote. Knowing that he was going to join the Marines, he felt that Trump has too much of a temper to handle being the Commander in Chief with responsibility.

Yet, Hillary lost.  Trump is now  Commander-in-Chief.

I asked Tristan, with my mother’s heart, if he would reconsider joining the marines right now.  I said, “T, I’m afraid.  I’m proud of you, but I’m afraid.”

I didn’t voice my complete worry:   That I might lose my oldest son to drug addition, and I’m absolutely TERRIFIED of losing my middle son, my Tristie, to a war.

Tristan looked at me, with a very mature look on his young face, and said, “Mom, it doesn’t matter who is president, our country needs protection.  It always will.  And some of us have to step up and do it, no matter if we agree on who is president or not. Someone has to protect everyone else, and it might as well be me.”

I don’t hesitate to tell you, that my gut clenched up and a knot formed in my throat, and I’ve never been more proud.    I’m still scared, as any mom would be, but I’m SO SO SO  proud.

He will be an amazing Marine.

And he will protect YOU with his life.

I can honestly tell you that you couldn’t be in better hands.

 

Happy 19th birthday, T.  I’m proud of you.

My Truth: My son is an addict

Hi.

Let me preface this post, by telling you that the things I’m about to say are in NO WAY a marketing ploy, or a plea for attention.  I’ve thought a long time about when to share this, IF EVER, and I’ve come to the decision that I want to try to use my situation for good, if I possibly can. This is not a secret I want to keep anymore.  I’m going to step into the light, and you’re going to see my scars.

Several years ago, I wrote my break-out book, IF YOU STAY.  It’s the story of a broken man, plagued with drug use and issues.  Pax Tate’s story had a happy ending, and many of you fell in love with him.  Many of you asked me who he was based upon… and I have never felt like I should share.

Until now.

Loving someone with an addiction is a heavy burden to carry.  At times, you feel alone, as though no one else could possibly understand.   And most of the time, no one can, unless they’ve walked this particular path themselves.

My twenty-one year old son, my first-born,  Gunner, was a cheerful little boy, his smile like sunshine, his charm enough to talk himself in and out of mostly everything.  He was bright, he was bursting with potential, and he was beautiful.  He was rambunctious, he was all boy, playing with lizards and turtles and snakes from the yard.  His favorite show was The Land Before Time, and he  wanted to be a zoologist when he grew up.

gunner-baby gunner-three

 

Then, as a teenager, he changed.   He became a shell of his former self, his mood mercurial.   He lied to himself, and to us, told us that nothing was wrong, that his disinterest in school was because he was bored.   That was a lie.

The truth came out soon enough.

He started out huffing aerosol cans in secret, and that branched out to other things, like methamphetamine and heroin, and pretty much anything he could get his hands on.  The Addiction hooked into him with sharp talons.  I address it in capital letters, like it is a thing, because it is.  Addiction is a palpable monster.  It grabbed my son, and it wouldn’t let go, and he didn’t want to let it.

It dragged him down, and we all went with him.

Loving someone with an addiction is like being on a terrible roller coaster than you can never get off of.  He calls me in the middle of the night, he calls me crying, he calls me saying he wants to die.

Then the next day, once the drug wears off, he calls and acts fine.  He’ll insist he doesn’t have a problem, and that he doesn’t need help.  Then the cycle begins again the day after.

He rages.  He cries.  He soars, he crashes.

People on the outside looking in think that I should be able to fix it. That if I FORCE him into getting help, he’ll beat the addiction.

That’s not the way it works.  I’ve put him in rehab multiple times.  It didn’t take.  Because he wasn’t ready.  He’s not a minor anymore- he’s over eighteen.  So I can’t MAKE him do anything, not even when he’s killing himself with this dangerous cycle.

This has been on ongoing struggle for several years now.  We try to make him get help, he resists at every turn.  The addiction makes him someone he’s not, someone who says hateful awful things, someone who tries to hurt those who love him.

It’s exhausting.

A while back, at two a.m, he called me.  I could tell he’d been high, that he’d crashed.  He was very, very low.   His speech was jumbled, incoherent.  Eventually, he said, “Mom, what time is it?”

I pulled the phone away from my ear to look at it.

“Two-thirty,” I told him.

He didn’t answer.

“Gunner?”

He didn’t answer.

“Gunner?!”

Still no answer.    I could hear some sort of ragged, gurgly sound in the background, and I knew it was coming from his throat. I hung up, and tried to call him back.

No answer.

So I did the only thing I could do.  I called for an ambulance.  I didn’t know if he was dying, I only knew, in my mother’s heart, that time was of the essence.  I waited by my phone, barely breathing myself, until I heard back.

He had overdosed, and the police had found drugs in his house.  He was lucky though. He lived.

He was treated, and arrested, and he was put into jail. He was eventually released, and placed on a list for rehab.  Finally, after several weeks, he’s now in rehab. Again.  All we can do is hope that this time it takes.  That this is the time he’ll want to get better and we can all get off this roller-coaster ride from hell.  He tells me he wants to get better, but he’s in for the fight of his life.  He wakes up in the night, in cold sweats and craving needles.  The cravings are stronger than he is, he thinks.  But I don’t think so.  I think if he concentrates, he is strong enough.  

Gunner is now twenty-one.  He’s got a sweet fiancee, and a beautiful infant son.  He’s got a lot to live for, if only he’s strong enough to see that.

gunner-with-damon

This is my baby boy now.  Do you see the dark look in his eyes?  The lines on his face?  The hardened expression?  The skinny arms and bony shoulders?  That’s what drugs do.  They take and take and take, until there’s nothing left.

This can’t be the end of my son’s story.  He’s got so much left to give.

If you are a praying person, would you mind saying a prayer for him?  Because I believe that the more people who whisper the same prayer, the louder the words are to God’s ear.  And Gunner needs God’s help to beat this.

I am a normal person.  My family is normal.  We live normal lives, and this has happened to us.  Once upon a time, I thought that drug addiction was something that happened to OTHER people.  People who weren’t like me.

That was not true.

Drug addiction can happen to ANYONE.

You can teach your kids right from wrong, and bad things can still happen.  Hug your kids tight.  They will make their own choices, and you can’t control that.

As an author, that’s a tough pill to swallow, because I’m accustomed to creating worlds.  I control what happens in those worlds, and I control the choices my characters make. I control everything with keystrokes from my keyboard, or a red pen on a white page.

Real life isn’t like that.  My son is killing himself, and I can’t do a thing to stop it.  So, to deal with it, I do what I do best.

I write.

I’m writing another book based on Pax Tate.  I first created his character because of my son Gunner.  And because real life has shown me that stories evolve,  I feel as though Pax’s story has to continue, to show that sometimes, happy endings must be worked for, with blood and tears.  But if you work hard enough, and pray and hope and HANG ON FOR DEAR LIFE, a happy ending can be had.  I have to believe that.

Writing is my therapy.  I write to live.  I’m going to write more of Gunner’s struggles through Pax, and I’m going to give Pax the ending that I want Gunner to have.

If God is willing, it will be so.

Dare Me is Live! (a Nocte Hotshot novella featuring Dare DuBray)

Dare Me

 

Did you love Dare DuBray from the Nocte Trilogy?   Did you love love love the story, but you wished there was some more steamy scenes?

Well, guess what?

Dare is back in Dare Me, a novella featuring he and Calla… and some steaminess to be had.  🙂

I hope you like it.  No, I hope you love it.  🙂

It’s available exclusively on Amazon, and even better, if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read it for free.  If not, no worries- Dare Me is only $.99 pennies.  (And even if you don’t usually use Amazon for books, you can download the Kindle for PC, iPad or your phone for FREE to read!)

The hotshot novellas are the perfect length for a lunch hour or bedtime.

You can buy on Amazon here.   

***

They say she’s crazy.

She’s not.

They don’t know the truth.

She does.  The problem is, she doesn’t always remember it.

But I do.

My name is Dare DuBray.

I’m in love with a girl who is is erratic and beautiful, and a little bit mad.

But that’s ok.

We’re all a little mad, aren’t we?

Love couple

Day 2 of IYS Two Year Anniversary Shennanigans!

BeautifullyBroken-Feb15promo-CreateMemeAndWin

Happy Day two of the Two Year Anniversary of IF YOU STAY!

Woohooooo!

Today, we’re having a graphic meme contest, which I have to tell you, is usually my favorite of all contests.  I love seeing the artsy things that everyone comes up with!

For today, create a graphic meme using one of these quotes:

  • “She’s a breath of fresh air.  I may be the big bad wolf, but even wolves need to breathe.”
  • “You’ve seen me at my worst.  Maybe you should see me at my best.” “And when are you at your best?” “In bed.”
  • “I need him to breathe.”

You can share the meme on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, but make sure to tag it with #LoveNeverFails so that we can find it when we’re choosing winners.  We’ll choose Three winners next Friday, so this contest will last for a week.  🙂

Good luck!  I can’t wait to see your #LoveNeverFails memes!  🙂