Susan Lynn Solomon

KADDISH

by Susan Lynn Solomon

Pellets of snow stung my cheeks. I bent into the January wind and reached for my brother. He glanced at me from the corner of his eye. For a moment I thought he might brush my hand from his sleeve.

“It was nice,” I said.

Linda, his wife of three years, leaned across him. “What was?”

“What the Rabbi said about Mom.” My chest tingled as I recalled the eulogy. “The only time she made her family cry was when she died—that was nice, wasn’t it, Robby?”

“Robert,” my brother corrected me in a voice as stiff as his shoulders. He stroked his moustache, then flicked snowflakes from his black hair, so flecked with gray it belied his age. Next month he would be forty-three.

“It was nice,” Linda said. She pulled her knit hat so low over her ears she nearly knocked the glasses from her small nose.

“I suppose,” Robert said. “But he didn’t know her.” He pulled his coat tight around his broad frame. “For a few bucks, he probably says the same thing about everyone.”

“I wish Phil were here,” I said. “He knew Mom.” Rabbi Bentley and his wife, Deborah, were old friends.

Robert shrugged. Who officiated at our mother’s funeral made little difference to him. It wasn’t that he didn’t love Mom—he and Linda had cared for her, seen to her every need during the nine months cancer gnawed at her lungs. But for my brother, this rite—anything to do with religion—was merely to be endured.

“At least the guy kept it short.” He shook my hand from his arm and wound his scarf around his neck.

Linda frowned at him. “Did you remember to ask the rabbi to come over and lead the prayer tonight?”

“Did you?” I said.

Eyes straight ahead, Robert’s lips tightened. It was as though I’d accused him of a breach of etiquette.

We were walking along the narrow road cutting through the heart of the old cemetery. To the left and right, paths bent off, curled around a city of mausoleums, and ran through arches erected by burial societies named for the shtetls—the villages in Eastern Europe in which our grandparents had been born. Beyond the arches were tall headstones that in the spring would be adorned by neat flower beds.

At the end of the road we passed through an iron gate, and into the chapel’s parking lot. I waved goodbye to my two surviving aunts and the cousins who’d braved the snow, and dropped my eyes when I received half-hearted nods in return. This was the price of being the family outcast.

With a sigh, I pulled a set of keys from my purse. As I unlocked my car, I called to my brother, “Is there anything we need? I can stop at the market on the way.”

We would sit shiva at Robert’s house, and I suspected he might not have bought enough food and drink for the relatives and friends who would stop by in the next seven days to share memories of our mother. Hosting this ritual wasn’t my brother’s choice: our father had passed away two years ago, so the obligation for shiva and gathering with a minion of nine other men to say Kaddish—the Jewish prayer for the dead—was wrapped as tight as the scarf around his neck. He was the only son.

“We’ve got plenty,” Linda said.

“And people always bring food,” Robert added, then muttered, “As if I can’t afford to feed them.”

Linda smacked his arm.

“Okay, then,” I said, “I’ll just stop at home to get what I baked.”

They didn’t hear me. My brother’s car was already exiting the lot.

 

The large colonial house in Roslyn Heights was by no means a mansion. Still, it announced to passersby a successful man dwelt within. My brother had become what my parents wished for their children. I, on the other hand, had been unable to do something as simple as make a marriage work.

What might have been a full stadium parking lot greeted me when I turned onto Robert’s street. Even his circular drive was jammed. A quick glance informed me my eight-year-old Saturn wouldn’t fit into the only small space, so I parked around the corner. Balancing two trays of noodle pudding—when I was a child, Mom had taught me Grandma’s kugel recipe—and fighting a wind that tried to rip off my coat, I made my way down the block. When I opened the front door, it seemed as though I’d walked into a cocktail party.

I saw no torn lapels, no covered mirrors or crates to sit on, heard no soft-spoken remembrances of a woman’s life well-lived. Instead, laughter pealed from the large square living room, dining room, down the hall and up the stairs. Bottles clinked on glasses. Someone was playing the piano. My brother had made this an Irish wake.

Robert circled the corner from his den. He’d changed from his suit into a tan corduroy jacket, jeans, and oxblood penny loafers. His cheeks were red—they got that way after only two drinks. He glanced at the trays in my hand. He glanced at my old wool overcoat. Speaking to the glass of tequila in his hand, he said, “Glad you could make it, big sister.” He didn’t reach out to take the trays I held.

Had I the desire, or at that moment the strength, to point out his ill manners, he would have said he was being ironic. My brother had difficulty differentiating irony from sarcasm. He hadn’t always been this way. It’s just that he had little tolerance for failure, and a failure was how he had viewed me since my divorce.

Mom had also thought me a failure, with good reason, I suppose. “You and Ron can work it out,” she told me the day I showed up at her house, suitcase in hand. “Your father and I always worked things out,” she told me each time I visited her at Robert’s house during her illness. Tied to a marriage that had gone sour, I had an affair, moved out. The judge gave my ex custody of our daughter. Mom was terribly disappointed in me, embarrassed in front of her friends. It had never been different: I’d been a hippie in college, a rebel, a nomadic wild-child, disappearing who knew where, sleeping with who knew whom, getting arrested in Birmingham and in Chicago. “No wonder you can’t get along with your husband,” she told me.

I lost my temper then. “Guess people are right when they talk about the apple and the tree,” I’d snapped. “After all, you named me for Dad’s great-aunt, and she got burned by the Tsar’s army for causing trouble.”

Unlike my brother, I recognized sarcasm when it bounced out of my mouth. I heard Mom crying when I stormed out. Though he never said it, I’m sure Robert blamed me for our mother’s death—he believed I was the reason she refused treatment that might extend her life by maybe a year. Nights I sat alone in my apartment, I blamed me too.

 

Linda emerged from the kitchen. A green apron covered the black dress she’d worn to the funeral. Her neck-length hair, the color of autumn hay, was now tied back. She glared at Robert. “Let me take those, Susan,” she said to me.

My brother’s eyes now rested on a color photograph hung on the wall. It was taken outside a bed and breakfast on Martha’s Vineyard just after his wedding. My ex and I were in the picture. From the expression on Robert’s face and way he pulled at his mustache, he might have been telling our parents he only put up with me for their sake.

Linda took one of the trays and my arm. “Give me a hand in the kitchen, would you?” She turned her back on her husband.

In contrast to the heavy overcast outside, the kitchen was bright, white from cupboards to appliances. Beyond the windows and French doors, under an inch or two of snow, what appeared to be an acre of lawn was ready for the children my sister-in-law hoped to have one day. I couldn’t help but compare her life to the miniature one I led in the basement efficiency apartment I inhabited.

“I apologize for my husband, Sue,” she said.

“No need to.” I gave her a smile that wasn’t really one. “I’ve known him a long time.”

Robert’s voice barged through the kitchen door: “We need more food out here.”

Linda shook her head. “All those years you grew up together, and you didn’t kill him?”

I laughed. “Well, there was one time I tried to plug his finger into a socket.”

Brow furrowed, she stared at me as though she were uncertain whether I was serious.

“I might have done it if Mom hadn’t heard him crying.”

“Why’d you do that?”

I pointed to the bend where my nose had been broken. “He threw a block from his playpen. Hit me right here. Mom rushed to him, left me sitting with a bloody nose.”

Robert interrupted my resentment: “How about some food.”

“Better get the platters out there,” Linda said. “Drinking on an empty stomach, he’s liable to throw a block at me.”

I poked my head through the door, and peered around the living room, at the bodies on plush sofas and chairs, at the feet up on the glass tables. “I don’t see any of our relatives here. Where’s Aunt Florence, Aunt Millie?”

“They said they’ll stop by another time. Rob’s business people wanted to come today, pay their respects. They all have to work tomorrow.”

I heard a glass shatter.

“Nothing to worry about,” Robert called. “I’ll clean it up.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I can see their respects.”

Linda shrugged. “What can I say—car salesmen.”

For the next hour we carried food into the dining room and empty platters into the kitchen. It seemed only minutes before a garbage bag was filled with the empty bottles I hauled to the trash cans outside.

When I slammed the lid on one of the cans, the wind crept up, encircled me. As if the ghost of my past stood at my back, I felt a tingle at the nape of my neck. Or maybe my mother stood there. But that couldn’t be; it was Robert she would have gone to. So maybe it was Grandma. On Sabbath evenings at her kitchen table, it was she who patiently taught me what I knew of my heritage. Through the years, in all my wanderings, I’d felt her beside me.

I stopped, laughed at the idea. I’d grown too old for such foolish notions.

As I stepped aside to return to the house, the tingling in my neck spread downward. The wind touched my hand, almost a caress. With a shiver, I gazed at the sky. The fiery orange of a setting sun broke through the gray cloud cover. The sight pulled me back to my teenage Fridays in Brooklyn, to Grandma lifting the shade to peek through her window. I could almost hear her say, “Sun’s down. Shenah maideleh”—she called me that—“light the candles.”

I wrapped my arms around my chest. Though Grandma had left me her candlesticks, I hadn’t lit Sabbath candles in years. I’d forgotten how to pray. But now, held by the memory, I whispered, “Baruch atah adonai—”

The wind drifted away. I stood, as if frozen.

“Susan?” Linda leaned out the back door.

I didn’t move, didn’t even turn my head to look in her direction.

She came outside, touched my arm. “You okay?”

I nodded slowly.

“You’ll catch a cold,” she said. “Come inside. The Rabbi just got here—they’re gonna say Kaddish.”

 

Robert’s den was oak-paneled, and lined with bookshelves. He was a reader. History: his primary interest was the Civil War. He also had sections of books on Western Europe and the Orient. I found it interesting that nothing in his library told of Russian Poland—the place our family fled just before the First World War.

Instead of a quiet place to read, that evening the den was crowded. More than a dozen men leaned on the teakwood desk and against the walls, and lounged in the leather chairs. My brother was at the window, staring out.

Several women blocked the doorway, whispering to each other.

“I wonder what this is about,” one said.

“Do you think they’ll say the prayer in English?” her friend asked.

“I hope so. My mother told me to be careful—you never can tell what someone might make you say.”

“Might even be a sin.”

Clearly, these women weren’t Jewish. Neither, I suspected, were many of the men. Still, I appreciated the fact they’d risk their immortal souls by praying in Hebrew for my mother.
The Rabbi rested his briefcase on the floor, and pulled out a blue felt bag decorated with yellow stripes and a Star of David. From this bag, he took his tallis—his prayer shawl—kissed the hem, and draped it around his neck. Again he reached into his briefcase, and came out with a sheaf of pages he distributed to the men.

I took Linda’s arm. “Come on.”

She shook her head. In the orthodox tradition she’d been born to, this prayer was to be said by men.

I pushed past the women at the door and put my hand out to the Rabbi.

He tried to ignore me by looking at the pages he held. These had both the Hebrew version and a large-type transliteration of the Kaddish.

“She was my mother too,” I told him.

He glanced at my brother.

Robert shrugged.

At last the rabbi handed me a page, and again ignored me as he counted the men. Apparently he thought God wouldn’t hear us unless ten men chanted the words. Satisfied, he glanced around the den. “For those of you who aren’t familiar with our customs,” he said, “this is the prayer we say for our departed. It’s interesting to note that nowhere in this prayer do we speak of death. Instead we talk of the glory of God, whose wisdom and strength we can’t approach. Now, in memory of…” He looked to Robert.

Before my brother could answer, I said, “Jeanne—our mother’s name is Jeanne.”

“Yes, um,” the Rabbi said. “In memory or Jeanne, please read along with Robert.”

I glared at him. “And Susan.”

“Uh, yes, of course. Please read along with Robert…and Susan. Yisgadal v’yistkadash shmay rabbah—” (Glorified and sanctified is God’s name.)

Stumbling over the strange words, the men read the prayer.

I glanced at Robert. Still peering out the window as if he saw Mom standing in the snow, he repeated only every third word. And those he said were a beat behind the Rabbi. If he really saw Mom, perhaps he was apologizing to her for his discomfort with our customs. Nights I’d sat with Grandma learning who I am, he watched television with Dad.

“Oleybu v’al kol yisro-eyl,” the Rabbi said, “v’imru omeyn.”

“Amen,” I said.

In the brief silence that followed, one of the women at the den door clapped.

I glared at her.

She blushed and stepped back into the hall.

While the Rabbi gathered his pages, Robert went to his desk and wrote the man a check. I didn’t know why, but instead of returning my copy of the prayer, I folded it in eighths and shoved it in the pocket of my skirt.

When I rolled over in bed to turn off the alarm the next morning, my hand settled on the page I’d placed on the night table. Instead of my routine of reading a novel in bed until my eyes closed, I’d sat up reading the prayer over and over. As when I pocketed it in my brother’s den, I didn’t know why. Maybe it was because, while I’d recited it along with the rabbi last evening, Grandma reached out and touched my hand—stranger things have happened. For whatever reason, sometime around midnight, I reached a decision: I knew Robert wouldn’t go to the synagogue each morning and evening for the next year to recite Kaddish, so I’d say it. Then, remembering the rabbi’s disdain of my audacity for daring to be part of his minion, I reached another decision: I would recite it alone at home. I didn’t know if this would count for anything, but I’d do it just the same.

Why?

I had an answer to this question: guilt is part of my tradition.

 

Each morning before putting on my makeup, even before having my first cup of coffee, and every evening after sundown, I turned to the east. I turned east because Grandma had told me in the old-country shul where my forebears worshipped (a two-story wooden edifice not grand enough to be called a synagogue), a seat against the eastern wall was considered an honor. I’d never asked her why, yet thought it had to mean something. So, I turned east, and read aloud, “Yisgadal v’yistkadash shmay rabbah—”

I wish I could say it was easy to remain true to my intention. It wasn’t. Too much temptation.

In July, women I worked with came into my office near the end of the day. “We’re going down to Rosie O’Grady’s for drinks after work,” they said. “Wanna come?”

My mouth watered. At the mere suggestion, I tasted the creaminess of the Guinness Stout I usually ordered. More, I tasted a desire for the broad shouldered men around the horseshoe bar who would gladly buy me a pint or two, then suggest we find a quiet place for dinner. And maybe a night making love afterward.

I gulped back the almost uncontrollable urge, and forced my eyes down to the papers on my desk. “Sorry…can’t,” I said. “Gotta get this contract done by Thursday. I’ll be here for hours. Another time?”

Why couldn’t I tell them I had to get home to pray for my mother? They might have understood. Or they might have gone off to Rosie’s giggling, and told the crowded bar, “Susan’s gone religious on us.”

Five minutes after they left my office, I closed my file, turned off my computer, and rode the elevator down to the street. I turned my face as I passed Rosie’s windows so the women wouldn’t catch me in my lie.

After a month of “another times” they stopped asking me to join them.

That didn’t make it easier though. In September, my friend Janet’s brother moved back east. His divorce was final. He asked about me. Richard—Ricky—and I had dated all through high school. It seemed he wanted to reach out to his past.

“C’mon,” she said to me on the phone. “It’ll be fun. We can double-date like we used to.”
I remembered Ricky. Too well. He’d been the star pitcher on the school’s baseball team, a member of the honor society, and a hell of a lay. He’d been my first. Then he left for college in Los Angeles. Had I searched for that Elysian time with him though all these years and dozens of relationships that didn’t last?

“Sorry, Jan, can’t,” I told her. “There’s … um, something I’ve gotta do.”

“What’s so important you can’t put it off till tomorrow?” she asked.

I wouldn’t tell her either.

At my next session with my shrink (after my divorce I thought it was time I learned why I found it hard to settle down) I ask why I couldn’t tell anyone I was saying Kaddish morning and night.

She smiled as if she knew a secret. “Isn’t the more pertinent question why you’re doing it?”

I bristled. “Okay, tell me why.”

“Why do you think that is?”

Damn! Would I have asked if I knew the answer? After an hour of talking around the issue—and trying hard to change the subject—I went home, lit a joint. Maybe the answer would come to me if I got stoned.

After another session with my shrink in October, I opened my night table and reached for my stash. I stared though the plastic baggie, to the pot and rolling papers within. For the first time in months, years, I had no taste for it. I put the baggie back, closed the drawer.
It wasn’t until early December that the answer to why I said Kaddish every day came to me. And I literally mean it came to me.

The late autumn sun doesn’t begin to rise until past seven. It was a Saturday—I remember the day because, no need to catch an early train to the city, I was able to sleep in. Around six, I was awakened by a stirring in my room. Maybe it was a breeze rustling the documents I’d brought home from my office to work on over the weekend. I was about to roll toward the wall, punch my pillows, and fight to return to whatever I’d been dreaming, when my mind cleared enough that I realized there was no breeze in my room. It was near freezing outside; my windows were closed and locked. Then what caused the papers to flutter? Perhaps I had left a window open. I rolled onto my side, opened one eye.
In the center of my room I saw a flash of bright light—not yellow and orange like in a flame, this was all white, an absence of color. As if a flashbulb had gone off, the light blinded me.
I snapped my eyes shut, rubbed them. The light still flashed behind my lids. What was going on in my apartment? Was . . . I being robbed? My stomach began to churn.

Trembling, I again opened one eye, this time just a slit.

The light was still there, and now it fluttered as though it were a candle kissed by a gentle breeze.

“What the—” I muttered, my voice rasping with fear.

I tried to pull my quilt over my head, but I couldn’t move.

The fluttering became more pronounced. A figure walked into the light. It was a woman, her dark hair and her dress blown as if by a gale wind. She turned. I saw her face.

I blinked rapidly.

This…was my mother.

“Thank you,” she said, although I’m not sure if her voice was just in my mind. “I’m all right now. Tell Linda.” She waved, smiled, and walked away. The light flickered, went out. My room was bathed in darkness.

“Ma!” I cried, arms outstretched.

Silence answered me.

I peered into the darkness, craving another sight of her. Leaning on an elbow, I continued to search the shadows in the corners until my eyes grew heavy, blinked, then closed.

 

I woke to sunlight streaming through my windows. I brushed my teeth, put on coffee. I pulled from a drawer the wrinkled sheet on which the transliteration of Kaddish was typed. I turned to the east, and read, “Yisgadal v’yistkadash shmay rabbah— ”

Finished, I replaced the folded page in the drawer, and sat at the table with my coffee and the newspaper. Had this been a Sunday several years ago, I would have phoned my mother so we could do the crossword puzzle together. Remembering those days before I was an outcast, tears filled my eyes. Feeling sorry for myself, as I idly brushed my fingers across the newspaper, the dream I had returned. I recalled a light, blindingly bright, filling my room. The vision was as clear as this crisp December day. Mom was in the center of the light. She thanked me, waved goodbye. My chest fluttering as the light had, I broke into sobs. Never had I had a dream that was so achingly clear and well-remembered past my first cup of morning coffee.

But was it a dream? Had my mother returned, however briefly, to tell me something?
Nonsense! I knuckled away my tears. This was reality, not a restaging of a scene from Fiddler on the Roof.

Yet it had seemed so real… I glanced at the drawer that held the printed prayer.

Ridiculous! I told myself. I shoved the newspaper and the dream aside. Time to get on with the day, I thought.

Still, while I carried my clothes to the Laundromat, did my marketing in Walbaums, wandered through the Mid-Island Mall in search of a new blouse, the dream I tried to convince myself wasn’t one, returned again and again. Maybe that was it: I didn’t want it to have been just a dream. I’d wanted to see my mother one more time, wanted again to feel part of her—wanted her to stroke my hair as she’d done when I was a child, and utter words of comfort. She had told me something, though—I’m all right now, tell Linda.
For a message from beyond, what Mom said was just so…mundane! So it had to be a dream.

As I emerged from a store in the mall with a plastic bag in my hand, shoppers stared when I stopped, and roughly wiped away tears.

See, Susan? I thought. The answer becomes clear if you just reason it out.

My careful logic failed to make anything clear. Through dinner, what I had seen early that morning sat in the chair next to me. I couldn’t shake the feeling my mother had actually told me something I needed to know. Or do. Yes, she’d told me to tell Linda what I saw. Maybe Linda knew what Mom wanted me to understand.

At last, my single place setting cleared and the dishes washed, I called my sister-in-law.

“I don’t know what this is supposed to mean,” I said as soon as she answered the phone. “But…uh…” I felt as foolish as my brother and mother believed me to be. If I’d been staring in a mirror, I would have seen my face grow red from my neck to my forehead.

“Is something the matter?” she asked.

“No, no. It’s not that.”

“If something’s wrong, I can come right over.”

Someone cared I might be in pain—was that what Mom wanted me to know?

“No, Linda, nothing’s wrong.” I said. “It’s just that… Well, I had a…dream.” Stammering, I told her how I’d been awakened by a stirring, blinded by a glowing in the center of my room. Again my eyes were clouded by tears. “Anyhow, Mom asked me to tell you she’s all right now.” I tried to laugh, as if I knew how silly I sounded.

There was no laughter on the other end of the line. I heard Linda gasp and begin to cry. “Thank you,” she said. “Thank you…Susan.” She hung up.

Okay, I thought as I put down the phone, it wasn’t just a dream. I did what Mom asked. I can put it behind me now. Except I couldn’t. Like a dramatized movie adaptation of a scene from someone’s biography, what I’d seen and heard now had a life of its own.
On Monday, work was a waste. Time and again my mind returned to my mother’s words. It had to mean more than telling Linda she’s okay, I thought. But it didn’t. Did it?
At three o’clock, pleading illness, I left the office. About the time the Long Island Railroad reached the Jamaica station, I decided to call my shrink. Maybe she could explain the dream. Between Jamaica and Syosset, I decided I had no patience for another question smashed back at me like a tennis ball. So, instead of my shrink I called my friend, Deborah, the rabbi’s wife. She was the one person I’d told what I was doing; the one person I knew wouldn’t laugh at me.

I spoke quickly, the way I do when I don’t want to be interrupted by someone asking if I were stoned. When I finally took a breath, Deborah remained silent.

“You still there?” I asked—a foolish question, since I heard her breathing.

After a minute, which felt far longer, she said, “This might not have been a dream.”

“It…it might not have been…”

“Uh-uh.” She inhaled, probably a drag from a cigarette. “When did your mother die?”

“January ninth,” I said. “Why?”

I heard another inhalation. “And today’s December eleventh. So, this happened on the morning of the ninth.”

“Yeah. So? What does that mean?”

She exhaled her cigarette smoke. “You’re finished saying Kaddish.”

“No,” I said. “It’s not a year yet.”

“Yes.”

“But the rule is—”

“Yes,” she said again.

I yanked back my hair. If my shrink had batted the question back at me, it might have been easier than this conversation with Deborah. I felt as though I were spinning. “I don’t understand.”

“There’s also tradition. And by tradition, we stop saying Kaddish after eleven months. It’s our way of telling God your mother was such a good person, she didn’t need a full year.”
I caught my breath. I hadn’t known of this. When Grandma died, I never counted the months my father went to his synagogue after dinner. When Dad died, Mom paid the rabbi to say Kaddish. Robert hadn’t spoken the prayers for Mom. So, that meant… Could what I’d seen have been real?

Deborah and I spoke for a few more minutes. To this day, I have no idea what we said. I was crying.

Now I understood why my mother had come to me—whether or not it was in a dream didn’t matter. And I also at last understood the true reason I’d prayed each night and evening. Laying my selfish desires aside for eleven months, every evening and morning I’d begged her forgiveness. I’d been a difficult child, a more difficult adult. I’d yanked at her heart more times than she ever allowed me to see. And even after she was gone, she returned—I desperately wanted what I’d seen to have been real—to say I was forgiven.
On my bed, with my knees pulled up to my chin, I cried until after sunset. I was alone in a basement efficiency apartment. There was no one to blame for this but me. Perhaps it was time for me to forgive myself.

 

Mom’s been gone sixteen years, yet the morning she came to me is still as present as my memory of her face and her voice. Was it a dream? Was it really her in the blinding light? I’ll never know. Does it matter?

Some things have changed for me through the years: these days I feel more settled, and don’t seek fast times in strange beds. I volunteer my time where I can—most recently lighting Grandma’s candles while I lead Sabbath services in an old age home. And I write. Quiet evenings at my computer, I record my memories of who I am and where I came from. Perhaps this is a sign that at last, like Robert, I’ve become the person Mom hoped I’d be.

But as I write this, I realize not all the hurts I’ve caused are healed. Typing the words my mother spoke early one December morning, I find a tacit message hidden in them. That message begs a question, so simple, yet after all these years, difficult to answer. Difficult, because I’m still alone. I wasn’t able to reconcile with my ex, and my daughter and I… I’ve torched too many bridges.

So, this unspoken question presses on my mind now that I’m nearing the age Mom was: who will say Kaddish for me?

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Susan Lynn Solomon lives and writes in Niagara Falls, NY. Her story, “Sabbath,” published in Prick of the Spindle, Vol. 6.4, was nominated for the Best of the Net 2013 anthology. Her story, “Abigail Bender,” was an honorable mention in a Writers’ Journal short romance competition (2007). Other work has been published in Imitation Fruit, Literary Juice, Sunstorm Fine Arts Magazine, and Our Echo. She wrote the text for a book containing the works of the artist, José Royo. Her essay, “Walking the Paper Trail,” has been quoted in court cases and cited in law journal articles. An art major in high school and college, she began her creative career as a songwriter and performer with the 1960’s band, Coconut Groove.

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