Then Let's Keep Dancing

(Updated below)

I've never made a mix-tape for a memorial service before. It's the hardest kind of mix-tape, I have found, to make. It has to be perfect because it's the very last one you will ever make for this particular person. I'm afraid I won't pick the right songs and Mason will shake his fist at me and say, "damnit, woman! I would have never picked that song for my funeral!"

The thing that's most upsetting is that Mason and I have spoken at length about the songs we'd want at our funerals. And I have somehow forgotten. I've been trying all night to remember. Me alone with my CD collection and Itunes and the songs we used to force upon one another. 

"Listen to this! You'll love it"

Mason had a thing for Conor Oberst and he'd drag my ass to every Bright Eyes concert in Southern California so I chose four Bright Eyes tracks. I knew just the ones to choose. I knew which ones were Mason's favorites because he had their lyrics tattooed on his body. 

Mason's memorial is Saturday in Santa Barbara so I will drive there and I will speak and I will mourn and laugh and secretly wish I could smoke cigs and drink vodka tonics in Mason's honor.

Mason didn't know I was pregnant, again. I didn't tell him because we hadn't talked. I kind of feel sad about that for some reason. I guess I'll tell him on Saturday. 

This has been a very strange few weeks. Everything seems to be going wrong with the book release and I wonder if that's a sign or something. Like how the "i" key broke off my keyboard and I swore I'd never write another memoir. Another book about myself. 

Last night there was a signing at Borders in Costa Mesa and I read from Rockabye and it was really lovely. And at one point I cried which was really embarrassing but I was sad and it's hard to read aloud about the people you love, sometimes. Especially because Meredith was there with her son, Nolan and her mother and in their honor I read the introduction to my book, which was a letter I wrote for her. For Meredith. On Unplanned Pregnancy For a Friend, and she was that friend. And I guess I got all choked up because there she was, my friend in the front row with her baby, and I was right. I was right to tell her everything would be okay. 

Everything will be okay, I tell myself now, surrounded by CDs that skip and MP3s without labels. Everything will be okay. 

I closed the comments to my last post because I didn't know what else to do. Sometimes it's nice to know there are people listening. And that's enough. But then I got your emails. I got your emails, read your stories about your Masons, and was grateful. So thank you. Thank you for stepping across the line I drew in the sand. I don't draw lines often. And if and when I do, they're never in anything other than pencil. 

I leave for my booktour on Saturday. Rockabye is slowly making its way to stores and Amazon still won't call us back so my book is still for sale for $44 dollars, which is really pissing my mom off. More than me, I think. She's emailed Amazon a total of 800 times but the thing is? I couldn't love her more for it. I couldn't love her more for caring so damn much about everything. About me. I couldn't love her more for coming to all three of my readings. Driving to Costa Mesa yesterday to meet me for the afternoon because "I wouldn't miss it for the world." I couldn't love her more for showing my book to the guy who sold her supportive shoes at the Outdoor Shoe Store at Southcoast Plaza and then inviting him to my book signing. 

"My daughter's doing a signing at Borders at 7:00," she said. "You should come."

And I rolled my eyes and told her to stop. 

"Stop what?"

"Stop doing what you're doing! What you always do."

And what was funny is that he did come. They always do. My mom always knows the right things to say so people want to see me or read me or believe in me. 

So the guy from the shoe store watched me read and cry in front of the entire bookstore and then he asked me to sign his book so I did. 

"Who should I make it out to?"

And then my mom winked at me from the audience and when our eyes met, I saw that she had been crying with me. Because that's what moms do. They cry when their children cry. They cry when their children stand before an audience of friends and strangers and read chapters from their first books. 

I'm supposed to be packing except I just today realized all my suitcases are down south, at my parent's house because we don't have room to store them. So instead I'm just hanging outfits around the house. I was, before I started this mix-tape. 

I have about a thousand emails I should be answering. A thousand people I should have called back by now. A thousand reasons to be grateful. A thousand reasons to be angry. A thousand reasons to believe in the meaning of all this. A thousand reasons to doubt the meaning in anything. A thousand reasons to mourn life. A thousand reasons to celebrate it. A thousand reasons to be excited. A thousand reasons to be scared. A thousand reasons to be in love. With everything. For being so fucked up and beautiful and weird. 

An unreasonable amount of reasons I have. 

So I close my eyes and I hold myself, the life that grows inside me, standing among the decay and the memories and the music and the dresses with their tags attached by safety pins hanging on the bathroom door. The lists of things I must do before I leave on Saturday. On Sunday. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm peeling time off the clock, like an apple. Or an orange. Or skin that's been in the sun for too long. Trying to find the right songs to say goodbye. The right names. The right way to do the right thing. The proper tone to speak to an audience so I can be taken seriously (but not too seriously.)

What time is it, again? When must I leave for Santa Barbara so that I get to the service on time? When must I leave for San Diego so that I don't get there too late? And what about San Francisco? It all looks the same right now. The decimal point is off and everything is very expensive to ship. More than it's worth? I don't know. 

I just hope my mom knows how much I appreciate her. I hope my brother knows how much it means to me that he took his camera with him to the bookstore so he could take a picture of himself buying the book. I hope my sister knows how much it meant for her to call me during every book reading I've had so far, leave a message, wish she was there. I hope my father knows how much I love him for chasing Archer around the bookstore for me, even though he wanted to sit down in a chair like a normal person but couldn't, because Archer's a maniac. And I hope Hal knows how much I love him for understanding when I can't watch John Adams for the third night in a row. And I hope Archer just knows. 

If only every child knew

I know. Truly and deeply, I know. 

My friend Mason did not and that breaks my heart more than anything. 

Just finishing the mix now. I hope I chose the right songs. 


Updated: My book is finally available to purchase on Amazon for the normal shipping cost. The decimal point is no longer off... I'll take that as a sign as well. 


L | 3:40 AM

Just to let you know what I was able to order Rockabye from Amazon UK without a problem :)

Jennifer | 4:40 AM

Big, fat tears are dropping into my tea. What a beautiful post. It sounds like you have such a loving family. I'm so sorry for the loss of your sweet, troubled friend.
I hope peace comes to you soon.

Karen Bodkin | 4:46 AM

I was able to order thru Barnes & Noble and with shipping to Canada it was more than reasonable. (About $21) The hard part is waiting for it to get here.

Oh Bec, this entry made me cry happy tears for you. Your family, especially your mother - well you're just so lucky. It's beautiful. I do hope Amazon gets their shit together for your sake but don't take it as a sign.

I wanted to write to you about Mason but it was too hard. Your Mason could have been my brother, who battled meth for 3 years. We watched him destroy himself through my oldest's first years and very nearly lost him several times. I too, had to step back a bit and say "I'm a mother now," and protect my oldest from the grand episodes of mania and depression. Seeing as I'm both sister and a mother-figure to J, I felt responsible though. I'm so glad he cleaned himself up. He is getting married this year to a woman that I adore, and has a great job where he has been moving up the ladder. I wish Mason had found the same happiness J has.

Sorry for the novel - best of luck on your book tour...if you're ever in Ontario, lemme know!

Woman on the Verge | 5:08 AM

You made me freakin cry. Moms are amazing beings. I feel so lucky to have mine...waiting for Amazon to get their shit straight to order. Can't wait!

Bekka Ross Russell | 5:21 AM

I've already received and read the book from Barnes and Noble, free shipping, no problem. Your writing is beautiful, I cried a few times reading it. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss.

Scar | 5:28 AM

love you.

Amy | 5:28 AM

Rebecca, I've been reading (lurking) for a while now, and I want you to know your story about Mason broke my heart. I lost my little brother two years ago to a heroin addiction he fought but just couldn't kick. He had just turned 22. Even though we don't know each other, I am thinking of you. I hope that you find the right music and the right words to honor Mason. It is so difficult.

I am waiting to get your book - my local store (in Jersey City) doesn't have it in yet. I look forward to reading it and wish you the best of luck with your book tour!

Anonymous | 5:31 AM

Fucking gorgeous post. You're breaking my heart, here. I had a friend die, too (haven't we all, right? I'm sure it's a story you've been hearing 1,000 times in the past couple days.) - she killed herself when we were 15/16, and I still get so pissed at her, even though whow knows if we'd even be friends now, because what the fuck? Dude, you have missed out on so much. I look at my son and think how she'll never have that, how she wasted her life by throwing it away like that. I don't even want to get into the drugs and what they do - the friends lost to heroin, not dead but lost, or yes dead and lost that way, too. The whole thing just sucks.

On a lighter note, your family sounds wonderful, and congrats again on the book, I can't wait to read it. I'm sure I'll be tearing up a little then, too, like I'm trying not to do now since I'm at work.

Hugs and hugs and hugs to you for all you're going through right now - the good and the bad, because isn't it all so hard sometimes, just that overwhelming flow of emotions?

SciFi Dad | 5:52 AM

Like you've been told numerous times in the past 24/48 hours, you are not the only one who has lost a friend. (I don't know whether that makes you feel less alone, or if you feel it diminishes your pain. Surely know that the latter is not my intent.)

My loss wasn't to drugs. It wasn't a debilitating, drawn out sequence of vignettes I had to endure. Mine was a single vehicle accident.

But this isn't about me, it's about you.

I wanted to post a comment to let you know that I am glad I finally decided to start reading your blog. (I think I mentioned before that I had seen your link at other sites I read, and had just never clicked over. If not, that's the case.) You write with a candor and honesty that I can respect.

I hope you find solace somewhere in the music, and that in time your pain subsides.

Homegrown {& the Bug} | 6:25 AM

You're right, as hard as it is to believe, in that it *is* okay. And I'm sure wherever Mason is, he'll love the mix tape...

Hugs to you from afar. You're certainly in my thoughts.

{Though nows not the time for funny, the fact that I forced my librarian to order your book for our library yesterday might make you laugh. I live in a small conservative town and she scoffed at the cover alone but I informed her that "Lady, I *need* to read that book!" Then my son - my own little Archer - echoed my sentiments and she relented...)

Backpacking Dad | 6:48 AM


Lines in the sand...

Mixed tapes...

...never do what you want them to, but usually do what you need them to.

Keri | 7:02 AM

I *cannot* wait to get your book in my hands! Your writing is so poignant and touches the heart so deeply. You ROCK!

If you can choose the right words to type this post, you most definitely can choose the right songs for Mason. I'll be thinking of you and Mason this weekend. Hugs.

Anonymous | 8:02 AM

Jesus. I look to you for a daily does of how-it-is and... well, I guess that's exactly what I got. Life is a mixed tape, after all.

This post, it's book worthy alone. It seems to me you still have a lot of poignant things left to say... another book would be well received.

My condolences. And praise.

Fraulein | 8:24 AM

I'm sure you did choose the right songs. And Mason will hear them--he'll be there with all of you.

Four years ago a good friend of mine died after she drove into a tree, sliding off a wet roadway late at night. She was 32. I think of her and feel her presence all the time.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Anonymous | 8:36 AM

I'm certain the mixed tape is brilliant.
Take Care.

Anonymous | 8:41 AM

Looks like Amazon finally got it right (?) -- $10.85 + $3.99 shipping!

Anonymous | 8:44 AM

I wanted to tell you about my Mason, like so many others. When I think of music and him, there's a moment frozen in time for me - dancing around the kitchen Christmas morning, singing along... "Someday we'll get it together and we'll get it undone, Someday when the world is much brighter... Someday, we'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun, Someday when the world is much lighter..."

Your writing is eloquent, heartbreaking, and truthful to the core. You inspire me. Thank you. And all the best on the journeys ahead...

Zeynep | 8:54 AM

Have been thinking of you since your last post. Like other commenters said, even though I don't know you, many of your posts ring so true that your internet persona is like a distant friend that I listen to so often...

Anyways, will be thinking of you on Saturday, it will be tough, but "knowing" you, you'll be more than wonderful and Mason will love your choices. Sending hugs from this side of the world (please don't call me corny :).

ps.: Well I had to ask, but the bookstores in ─░stanbul do not have your book, but will be more than happy to bring it if I order it (a friend will send one over in May).

Anonymous | 9:10 AM

Hang in there. There is something about pregnancy that makes dealing with death even more intense. You see beginnings and ends and you suddenly feel like you are in another world entirely. Some fantasy world or some movie and it just can't be real. But they are with us...

What's the big deal with Amazon? I ordered through B&N and my book should arrive in a couple days. Can't wait to see you in Oakland!

Anonymous | 9:13 AM

A beautiful post. Your mom is going to cry once again.

I was border line hormonal before I read this and now I'm full on. Good gawd make the big drops of water stop falling from my eyes.

...and I haven't even back read yet. I need to get composed before I do.

Sonja Streuber, PMP(R), SSBB | 9:49 AM

Sending you lots of hugs, Rebecca. Perhaps you could remember Mason when you name the new baby? It would be like he'd get a second chance, somehow.

Anonymous | 10:10 AM

Unspeakably beautiful entry, so sad and so fulfilled and so wanting all at the same time.

I think I love your mother. She reminds me of mine, so proud.

I'm sure you chose the right songs. And even you misremembered and they're weren't specifically what Mason had always said he wanted at his funeral, he's probably still going to be cocking an ear to listen to what you chose for him. Sometimes what other's think we'll like is more appropriate than what we think we'll like. Certainly it can be more interesting, and Mason sounds like he was always into the interesting.

Love, hugs, and good wishes for your travels. I wish you well.

kittenpie | 10:42 AM

I bet your mom cries knowing that you know. I would. And I bet Archer knows, or knows one day. how could he not? I'm only sorry that your Mason didn't know. But I wonder, too, if you might find part of your name solution here, in this convergence?

Anonymous | 1:35 PM

You have made me cry.
I hope my mom just knows also.
Thank you for writing.

Danielle | 1:56 PM

You make me cry too. In a good, real, honest way.

I ordered from Amazon last week with no issues. My book arrived today.

It's 75 and gorgeous where I live. I brought Rockabye outside to skim while I watched my almost two year old play outside.

He saw the book and screamed "BABY!!!" Then sat next to me while I read some out loud.

Betcha didn't think you wrote that kind of a children's book, huh!?!?!

Hol | 2:30 PM

Beautiful, and touching post. I cried at this, and the one about Mason. I can tell he will be greatly missed.

Sending love and prayers for a safe journey.

Anonymous | 2:35 PM

Your mom's smile is so striking in that picture. She is so proud of you! And she should be. Your book is amazing. I got it from Amazon last week with free 2 day shipping w/Amazon Prime...I hope they effed themselves on the shipping cost for everything they put you through.
I'm a little over half way through now, and I'm so amazed at how well you nailed the whole experience, I can't put it down. I went through a lot of the same things...the pre-e deformity and beached whale bedrest, the loneliness of being the only pregnant chick, the panic when they hand you your baby and leave the room...and I feel so much better knowing that someone else came out the other side without losing herself in the process. Write on, Sister! People like me need more Rebecca Woolf.
I'm so sorry for the tragic loss of your friend. I hope that you're able to send him off with an honorable tribute and find some kind of peace. I know it's not easy.

Anonymous | 3:51 PM

Your writing moves me so much. I just boo hooed so freely while reading your post. I love you. Thanks for being so open.

Norm | 4:32 PM

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. I'm happy for you that you can attend his memorial, though; when my stepbrother died under similar circumstances I was on a ship on the wrong side of the world. I regret that to this day. Santa Barbara (where I live) is beautiful this week, I hope that you can take comfort from it as well.

Jaelithe | 5:43 PM

You are reminding me of the time I was put in charge of making a funeral soundtrack for a family member.

I spent days working on it. There was one track I really wanted that I couldn't find anywhere, because it was an old indie folk song from the eighties and it wasn't on CD, and I cried and cried over not being able to give her that song.

And then, after all that work I had put into it, the funeral home played the CD I had made out of order. They put it on shuffle or something-- effed if I know-- and didn't even play some of the most important music.

After the funeral, my little brother released some balloons, even though we figured it was bad for the environment, but hey, it was only a couple, and she loved balloons.

And the balloons followed us almost halfway home. Followed the car, down the highway, for miles.

Maybe it didn't matter so much to her that the music was wrong.

Anonymous | 6:07 PM

will be thinking of you this weekend. mason will be too.

Shash | 10:05 AM

I ordered my book from Amazon pre-release, and I have finished reading it. I don't care WHAT I spent for it, it is an amazing book. I'm telling all the moms in my Autism Mom's group here in FL to go get it ASAP. Rebecca - you nailed it. This book is better than those what to expect books because it is so real. And heartwarming. And lovely. And amazing.

Just like you. And Hal and Archer.

Thinking of you this weekend. Drive safe.


Julie Marsh | 6:56 PM

You look so beautiful in that picture. Dammit, why couldn't I look that good when pregnant?

Let me know if you change your mind about heading further east for readings. I'd love to hear you read from this fabulous book of yours.

Anonymous | 2:13 AM

your honesty is so dam compelling. I will pray for you this weekend. thanks for keepn it real.

Anonymous | 7:20 AM

This was exquisite in its combination of matter of fact, stream of consciousness and lyrically emotional bareness. So glad I stopped by.

I wish you wonder and joy with the lives around you and inside you, and for the sweet spirit you're mourning, I wish you strength.

Anonymous | 9:21 AM

I just found your blog and it was incredibly powerful and moving. Thanks for sharing in such a heartfelt fashion and know that above all...Mason knows NOW. I hope you find some solace while making the mix and that your heart heals soon.