Today is the day! I’m so happy and proud to present: WHEN I’M GONE.
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of WHEN I’M GONE:
“After getting Clayton down and coaxing Will into helping his little sister with a snack and bedtime, Luke tossed his suit coat on the bed and yanked off his belt with a snap. He could wear the belt again, he decided, but not the suit. How can you wear a suit you wore to your wife’s funeral without remembering . . . everything? He retrieved the suit bag from the closet and quickly hung the coat inside. A flash of blue in the pocket caught his eye.
The letter. He’d forgotten, or maybe he’d made himself forget. It looked like Natalie’s handwriting, and because of that, he grabbed the letter and let the suit bag fall to the floor along with its wooden hanger. He ripped the envelope open by sliding his finger under the flap. A folded sheet of spiral notebook paper slid out. Well, that confirmed it. No one but Natalie would write letters to her widower in a fifty-cent spiral notebook and rip it out without cutting off the fringe.
Luke threw the empty envelope on his bed but paused when he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror across the room. His dusty-blond hair was still carefully combed in a part, tie knotted at his throat. He looked neat and tidy, ready for a job interview or big presentation at work. The only sign of how devastating this day had been was a coating of straw-colored stubble on his chin. It didn’t feel right that he could appear so put together on the outside when he was falling apart on the inside. Luke quickly untucked his dress shirt, loosened the knot on his tie, and ran a hand through his hair till the part disappeared.
There, much better, he thought, reassessing his reflection.
He couldn’t put it off any longer. With shaking hands, Luke sat on the edge of his bed, his back to the mirror, and unfolded the spiral notebook paper. At the top, written in what was undoubtedly Natalie’s handwriting, it said: “The day I’m buried.” Underneath was a block of writing, the looping letters so familiar it was like she was whispering in his ear as he read.
Or maybe I should say “Dearest Luke” or “To my loving husband, Luke,” or should I go casual and say, “Yo, Luke!”? I’m not sure how a dead lady addresses her husband. If you’re reading this, I’m probably dead. Or you’re snooping around my stuff, found my private journal, and decided to read it. Which, if that’s the case, shame on you! But I’m guessing I’m dead, because you’re not really the nosy type.
First let me say—I love you. I love you and our children more than I could ever write in words. The idea that you are living and I am not makes me want to throw up, like when we had that horrible stomach flu right after Clayton was born. It makes me angry and jealous and a bunch of other really ugly emotions. So, before I get all mushy on what has probably already been a supermushy day, I’ll leave it at this: I didn’t want to leave you…..”
I have to share one more thing. I’ve been saving this for this special day. I came upon this song after I’d finished writing WHEN I’M GONE and officially changed the working title to this perfect one. This song was written and sung by husband and wife duo Joey and Rory Feek. The husband and wife team wrote the song WHEN I’M GONE in 2012, not realizing that only four years later Joey would be gone, taken by cancer. You can read their story on their blog: This Life I Live. This song is the PERFECT song to listen to as you start WHEN I’M GONE. So, toss on some headphones, grab a cup of your favorite warm beverage and settle down for a good read. I hope you enjoy sharing the life of my friend Luke Richardson for a few hours in the pages of WHEN I’M GONE.