One of my favorite parts of a new book, especially a romance novel, is the dedication. The page where the author uses a few words to recognize someone, or something, important. Sometimes the dedication is clear - “to mom.” But every once and a while the dedication is more cryptic. More mysterious. The author recognizes someone, or many someones, by name, or with a short sentence. Leaving the reader to guess the connection. Is it a family member? A friend? A spouse? An old flame? My romance-novel loving brain practically short-circuits with delight in my frenzy to solve the mystery.
Occasionally my need-to-know propels me to the internet to find out who these people are. The people lucky enough to have their name on the dedication page of a romance novel by Nora Roberts. Or Susan Elizabeth Phillips. An honor more prestigious than a Nobel Prize.
I have learned some fascinating nuggets about my favorite authors’ personal lives this way. Perhaps the most interesting of all is that they are not that much different than I am. Yes, they are famous, but they are people. They have families. Husbands. Children. Sons and daughters-in-law. Grandchildren. Parents. Siblings. The people who make the writing - and the living - a great adventure.
This is comforting to me because, see, I am writing a book [she says with trepidation]. There. I said it out loud. It might just be a few pages of rough dialogue. There might be an ending, and not yet a beginning. But my first blank page is no longer blank. I am writing a book.
As I get started on this project that has been simmering on my brain’s back burner for what seems like forever, I have spent some time thinking about who I would dedicate my first book to. It’s a more complicated project than you might think. Because it’s not just the who. It’s the why. And the how. Because to write about relationships, you have to understand and internalize your own relationships. To appreciate the gifts given to you by the people who populate your own life.
I have also been thinking a lot lately about family. What it is, what it means, and how it shapes us. Because really, family is our first true relationship. The basis for who we are. Who we become. The foundation on which all of our future relationships are built. It is not an accident that so many writers dedicate their first books to their family.
I am no different. In a very real way, my words belong to my family. My parents taught me my first words. My sisters helped me hone those words into cogent thought. And the people who came later - my niece, my husband - helped me understand the depth and importance words can have. How words make up my deepest thoughts and feelings. Because writing is how I communicate. How I express. How I interact. How I love.
I don’t yet have a completed book I can dedicate to these most important people. Though I hope to one day. But I have this blog. And these words. To honor. To love. To thank.
To Mom and Dad. For Courage. Resilience. Strength. Love. Laughter. For these gifts you have given me. Given all 3 of us. For encouraging us to be ourselves. To be different. To embrace our quirks. To forge our own paths. You are our very best models of a meaningful life. You taught us how to live with purpose. How to share our lives with another. How to love truly. deeply. endlessly. Simply put, you made us. Us three. We may be spread over two different states, and there is no telling what our lives will bring. But all roads still lead to Pittsburgh. To you. You are our hearts and souls. Always and Forever.
To K & L. Everyone needs a sister. To learn. To play. To fight. To grow. To love. I sometimes think about what life would have been like if we had a brother. And I can’t imagine it. What a streak of blue would have done to our pink, pink world. We are building our own lives now, and are sometimes spread apart. But we are still us. The Brinn girls. Sharing books, recipes, stories. Life. The ties that bind us grow tighter as we grow older. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. You help me make sense of this crazy and mixed-up existence. You are my world; my insides. My sisters. My friends. Forever. Always.
To Baby A. Welcome to the world baby girl. Its a little scary and overwhelming, I know. But it’s also filled with moments of joy - both soaring and quiet. And immeasurable happiness. Like the happiness you have brought to us, just by being you. And joining us. It’s tough to be the first kid - the oldest - I understand. But it’s also divine. You have amazing, insightful parents. Parents who will let you find your own way. Who will let you dream, stumble, pick yourself up, and fly. And a family who loves you. Wildly. Deeply. At first glance. And who can’t wait to see who you will become. Because you are so much already.
To D. You made my life a romance novel. It is my greatest pleasure to write our story together. To live this adventure. This life. This stunning, grand, beautifully imperfect life. It’s the stuff of dreams, my man. How lucky I am that I get to live it. With you. You are my everything; my all. For understanding me better than I understand myself. For laughter. For fun. For the adventure of it all. For happiness beyond measure. And for a future brighter than the sun.