birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Letter from Mom

When my mother died last fall, I was surprised to see how many letters I wrote to her during the course of the first 30 years of my life. I wasn't shocked that she kept them, because as a writer, she corresponded with many people over the years, just at the ease that put everything into those letters, several times a week. Looking back on my 20+ self, I remembered the feelings I had expressed to my mother and whether or not I wanted to hear it, she always wrote back with sage advice, and for the most part, validated what I was feeling. My life, though different from hers, was in many ways, the same.

When my husband and I were going through a difficult period, the one that would eventually lead to our divorce, my mother wrote me a letter, questioning my choices, wheeling out questions...Have you thought about this?...It's not easy...How will you support yourself... the usual questions which made me self doubt any decision I came to make. My immediate thoughts were how dare she give me marital advice- after all, she had been married 3 times and was now on her 4th man and about to get married again. I knew she was right on so many levels, but still I put it away and out of my sight. Every few years after, I would pull it out, glance at it, and put it away.

Now going through my letters to her and letters she wrote to my father, and then my stepfather, it became very clear about how much she had sacrificed. And although she complained about my both men, she found ways to dig herself out of whatever hole she fell into. I was so quick to judge her, but lately I have realized how ready she was to jump in again, and have another go at what life was offering. I will read that letter again soon, and maybe this time, I'll put it in a safer place.

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