Most Anticipated Books Of 2020

I am one of those people who not only writes but also can often be found searching the net for the most anticipated books of the coming year. Everyone makes their list of such books. From The New York Times to The Guardian to Entertainment Weekly, the lists go on and on and on, and they can get very specific.

-Best Sci-fi

-Best Romance

-Best YA

-Best books to read while eating popcorn in a movie theater.

Okay, so that last one… probably not. But the others I’ve seen for sure.

As an author with a book coming soon, I dream of my book one day appearing on such lists. I believe What Death Taught Terrence is more than worthy of the notice. Sure, I’m biassed, but I also know books.

I’ve read books critically for years, in hopes of helping to find the best ones for and with an extremely kind and very talented literary agent. I’ve edited those same books and others for years, too. Worked with authors who knew my value and appreciated my takes on their work.

Some of these authors have even been kind enough to read What Death Taught Terrence and then to offer me their honest and constructive thoughts. From these conversations, and several others I’ve had with other literary agents, I know my book is worth the time of many a reader, and that if a reader picked up my book, they would certainly not be disappointed.

The thing about being what nowadays is called an “Indie-author: the toughest thing to do is to get the word out about your book. There are so many books being published each day that a book is more likely to drown under the deluge of other literary hopefuls than it is to ever be noticed. So sometimes one has to be creative. Sometimes one has to advise all the readers out there that:

-The Most Anticipated Novel of 2020 is:

What Death Taught Terrence, by Derek McFadden and available 2/11/20 from Kenboski & Seidenverg Books!!!

Pre-order your copy today! And please share your thoughts via Goodreads!



A New York Times Bestseller? Maybe!

What Death Taught Terrence, the best book you’ll read next year (Sure, I’m biassed, but it’s true.) is four months from release. As that date nears, my mind likes to work through and recall all the writing that led to this book. From the first time I dictated a Berenstain Bears fan-fic at seven years old (Yes, that did happen.) to a teacher’s aid who wrote it with a smile to the last edit of Terrence thirty years later.

I don’t remember everyone who loved my writing in that time. Which is unfortunate. But I remember each and every person who ever said to me, in not so many words, You’re not gonna make any money writing, and the like. I recall how angry this sentiment made me at first, before something my grandfather said to me when I was young resurfaced in my crowded mind: “If you write something, and you love it, and you do the best you can, that’s all you can do.”

As much as I’d like to make certain What Death Taught Terrence will be a New York Times Bestseller, there’s no way to do this.

All I can do is hope you, Dear Reader, will give me one chance to tell you a story that matters to me deeply.

What Death Taught Terrence is available February 11th, 2020. It is now available for pre-order on Kindle and in hardcover. You will not be disappointed!






Terrence Is On His Way!!!!

Hi, everybody:

For the last little bit, I’ve been semi-regularly crowing to anyone who’ll listen about my upcoming book, What  Death Taught Terrence. Twelve years of work spent creating the truest piece of fiction I could manage.  (A lifetime of research before that.)

As an author of fiction, I want to dabble in truth. Hopefully I manage to do more than simply dabble. Doing this makes stories more real. Makes them easier for readers to fall into and to fall in love with.

Well, after twelve years, I have something now with which I genuinely hope you’ll fall in love.

What Death Taught Terrence is available for pre-order on Kindle now! (It will also be available for pre-order in a handsome hardcover edition soon.) But if you read via kindle, and you want a book you’ll never forget, you can pre-order Terrence now. You’ll meet him on February 11th, 2020! Here’s the link!

Happy reading!

My Front Cover Is HERE!

You guys…. You GUYS….

I am so proud to announce that the front cover for my upcoming novel, What Death Taught Terrence, is HERE… and I happen to think it’s beautiful. I’d love to hear your thoughts, readers! We’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but everyone does it. Does this coer say buy and read me???

Please like the book’s page at

You will receive updates about the book and be THE FIRST to know of its upcoming release, likely in 2020. Terrence CAN’T WAIT to meet all of you!

For now… here it is… THE COVER!!!


Why You Should Think Of My New Book As Our New Book!

The day is new and still dark. My favorite writing time. The house quiet, its dogs (they really do own the house) not yet awake and barking at everything, yet nothing in particular, at the same time. I think about how I came to be a writer while I sit at the appliance that allows me the vocation. It happened in my childhood, before I knew what my life would be.It gave me a freedom nothing else could match before I ever fathomed being or felt trapped in my body.

Before I wrote, I read. In this regard, I am my mother’s son. I freely admit I don’t read as widely as she, but it is from her I garnered a love of words. We particularly loved The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, which we read together, about the battle of Gettysburg. If you haven’t read it, you should. His use of internal dialogue showed me how it was done and would be a part of the road map for my own style. I enjoyed Hemingway (“The Sun Also Rises” perfectly captures that time, that place, those bulls, those people) but always thought him a tad too spare with his prose. Richard Paul Evans, best known as the author of a short story turned novel (you can do that, if you have a publisher willing to be liberal in their typesetting) called The Christmas Box showed me that anyone with something to say could write a book that could touch people’s lives. That’s what I want to do, I told myself.  Mitch Albom showed me an author could write about God and spirituality without openly bowing to God or religion. My friend Jenny Milchman–author of such wonderful books as Cover Of Snow, Ruin Falls, and As Night Falls, suspenseful stories all–showed me how I could engage readers by talking to them and being kind and real. I had been afraid that no reader would attend a “book signing” of mine in the future, since I can’t physically sign books. When I have my signings, I will talk to each and every reader. Everyone has a story, and I will be interested to learn what, in their story, brought them to my book(s).

A book takes a long time to gestate. Even longer when you type it using two fingers, my preferred method. I considered several titles. In the end, I happily settled on Even God Makes Mistakes. The title is not a comment on religion as much as it is a statement about the character of God that I created. Although religion and I have never quite seen eye to eye; I will admit that.

Seven years after its initial keystrokes, my book is ready. It’s ready to be read, seen, enjoyed, discussed, understood. And its main character has the same cerebral palsy I do, something of which I am immensely proud,  because, in all the books I read, for all the years I’ve been reading, I have not come across a character that I could look at and say, “That guy could be me.”

But please don’t think that means it’s a book solely for people with palsy. Even God Makes Mistakes is a book for everyone. If you’re a reader, I want you to read it. If you’ve never sat down to take in a novel before, I want this to be your first. A writer’s purpose for writing anything is to communicate. I want to communicate with you. I want to show you something you’ve never seen before. I want you to read and tell your friends about that novel in which God is imperfect and the afterlife is just as much a journey as the life preceding it. And I hope you’ll get lost in the characters.

Though it hasn’t been published yet–so some might say this particular blog post might have been composed a tad early–I believe in it with everything in me. I believe the god or gods governing words wanted me to write it, and I hope my fingers have done it justice.

And I believe it isn’t just my new book. It’s ours. Because once a writer has finished composing, editing, and putting the finishing touches on his work, there comes a point when it is no longer his, when it ceases to belong to any one person but can be shared by everyone.

Come visit me to learn more about my upcoming novel. Tell anyone you think might be interested! We are going to change the world, one reader at a time!

All I’ve Ever Wanted…

…is to be a published writer. An author. (Sometimes, that word can sound so exotic.) To behold my words in print. To know–and, in some cases, to get to see first-hand how my articulated thoughts on a page affect readers in a real and tangible way.

A couple weekends ago, with this goal very much in mind, my dad and I attended our very first writers’ conference. Seattle is a great town, with a fantastic literacy rate, but we are not the hub of literature, despite Amazon starting in a nearby garage. Since I can’t drive–and, if I’m being honest, I’d fear flying on my own, so I can’t just go to New York and pound the pavement looking for an agent–and I know enough not to cold-call them, this conference would be the best chance I’ve ever had to get in the room with an agent and demonstrate the passion I possess for a seven-year project that has bled the words from my writing veins, made me a better writer, and a stronger person.

The night before my agent-interview, I could barely sleep. I assume this is how an athlete must feel the night before The Big Game.

Five minutes. That’s all the time I had to showcase the most meaningful thing I’ve ever scribed (Really, I had ten minutes, because my dad, already agented, gave up his time with the agent, which followed mine, but everyone else only had five minutes, and that’s all I needed, anyway; not the point of the story). That morning, I awoke early and practiced my pitch. Imagine being in an elevator with an editor at Penguin or Random House (Yes, imagine it. It sounds amazing.). You’ve got thirty seconds to make them care about this thing you care about more than you’re willing to admit. That’s the pitch. I decided my book would be best described, genre-wise, as “secular spiritualism”. What is that?  Think about the novels of Mitch Albom. His stories often mention God or Heaven, but his characters are never overtly one religion or another, meaning that he–the author–is never trying to convince you one religion is the right religion. Secular spiritualism. It should be a thing, yes?

I sat down in front of the agent. I think I was shaking, but she might have thought that was just the palsy. Fine with me. I launched into my pitch. It went off without a hitch. (A poet just stole my keyboard for a second; sorry about that.) Then she said, “Is your book complete?”

Is your book complete? Such a simple question, whose answer is so complex that only the simplest reply can accurately convey it.

“Yes,” I said.

After seven years, countless words written, deleted, re-written, and re-deleted, after receiving several rejections whose gist boiled down to: Obviously, you wrote this book for people with cerebral palsy (My book’s main character has cerebral palsy, because I’d always wanted to read a book about someone like ME, and I never had) when my book is for anyone and everyone who likes to read, wishes to read something a little different, a little quirky, that holds some meaning; after all of the struggles and doubts, and hours spent fussing over one passage or another, it was liberating to make that announcement, even if it was to an agent who’d never seen me before in her life. Yes, ma’am, my novel is done. Complete at eighty-four thousand words, the longest piece I’ve ever written.

No, this agent didn’t take me on as a client. In fact, she took only a few days before passing on the project. But, unlike the overwhelming majority of rejections I’ve received, this was not a form letter. An I have decided to pass or I didn’t connect with the story.

She told me she liked my writing, and that my story was merely outside of her expertise.

So this post is a thank-you of sorts. To that agent–and to agents everywhere–who take the time (I realize not every agent can do it, but if you can it really does assist us writers) to offer constructive advice. One or two sentences might be all it takes to send that future best-selling author off in the right direction.

And, okay, I’ll grant you that not all of us can be best-selling authors. There are 100 best-sellers per year, and there are so many books published annually that to read them all would be the height of insanity. But every author who has something to say should be able to say it to the widest audience possible. Agents serve as gate-keepers to this audience. But who says the key needs to be made of gold? Sometimes, it’s as simple as a few fleeting moments.

A Light At The End Of The Editing Tunnel!

Today’s post is a happy one!

For I have found, and can finally glimpse, the light at the end of the editing tunnel. No, I’m nowhere near done with the long and grueling edit that I’ve got underway on my novel, but as I go I am beginning to see it firming up, becoming something less conceptual and more tangible. I know now what I need to do to make the edit count.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I hate it when I read a book, and I feel like the author phoned it in. Come on, you’ve all read books like that, you know you have. What do you think at their end?

Of course. You think, Why did you waste my time with this? You might even blame the author.

I commit to never wasting your time, dear reader. Both my time and yours are just too valuable for me to do that.

So I’ve come up with a poem to remind me as I continue editing who’s important to a writer.

Their publishers, sure, and if I had one their notes would be at the forefront of my mind. But even more important….

Their readers. We write to get readers.

If the reader

Doesn’t read

What the reader

Should have read

When a story went from concept

Living in your head

To words that might engage,


Or yellow on an antique page,

If what needed communication

Didn’t get to them,

The fault rests squarely

With the writer and his leaky pen.

So spend your ink wisely.

A Dispatch From The Editing Bunker

That’s not what I wrote!

Yeah, it is.

How do you know?

Did you write this book?


Then this is what you wrote; no use denying it, because this is what ended up on the page.

But that’s not what I meant to write! That’s not what I meant to say!


Boy, have I enjoyed the internal debate that’s been raging in my mind. When what you thought you wrote and what you actually wrote, what you thought you communicated to the reader, and what you actually communicated to the reader differ to the point where your editor can’t quite understand the point of a certain section of writing, then, yeah, your book still needs some work.

There’s always, for me, that little bit of doubt that I let creep in and grow bigger, fed with negative thoughts and statements from this guy himself.

You can’t do it, my mind screams. If you could do it, if you could write what needs to be written, wouldn’t you have written it already?

As I sit hunkered in my editor’s bunker–the lady who edits my work doesn’t have a bunker; that’s just what I’ve taken to calling my room, where I mentally kick my own ass for the sake of what is (I promise) a great book, I try to remind myself that everyone must edit, even the greats, like Fitzgerald or Twain, and everyone has doubts. Push trough them. Review your suggested edits. List them. Brainstorm fixes. Put those fixes in your list. In this way, you can accomplish your edits in the way I need to; bite-sized chunks as opposed to humungous sections of writing that seem to have no end and make you feel like you’re swimming in an endless ocean.

Your Mind Can Get Hungry, Too!

Today’s post is a quick one. A little note on one of my favorite concepts.

When your body is hungry, what do you do? Easy, right? You feed and sustain it with food. But what about when your mind is hungry?

Do you know the feeling? I think you do. You’ve spent a while watching TV, a movie, the kind without substance, imbibing a tad too much, perhaps; your mind turned off to the world. And then, from its edges, the deepest alcove, the farthest outskirt, there’s a quiet but persistent voice.

I’m hungry, it says. I need to be fed. Teach me something. Let’s read a novel. Let’s find out something we never thought we’d know. We can do it together.

Always keep your mind hungry, and satiate that hunger in whatever way is best for you. For me, it’s reading and writing. For you, it might be math (those people do exist, and I’ve met them; I’m glad for them, because only with math could we have computers and the like, but I’ll stay firmly over here in the literature aisle, thank you very much).

Eleven Minutes

As I anticipate a week full of editing, I also want to keep my blog vibrant and worth the visit. So I have decided that, for your enjoyment this Tuesday, I will share a story I wrote soon after my grandmother’s passing. It is not a sad story. In my view, it’s heartfelt and hopeful. I believe I know where she has gone to stay, and I take comfort in that knowledge. And in the knowledge that I got the chance to say a full and true good-bye.

Eleven Minutes



The screen-door slams shut behind me, and I make my slow walk out onto the porch. Grandma is out here in her favorite chair, as always, smoking the cigarette I’ve told her over and over will kill her. She looks up when she hears me coming toward her.

“Hi, sweetheart,” she says. “Sit down. What have you been up to? How’s school going?”

            I sit across from her. “Grandma, you’re smoking… AGAIN!”

            “Yeah, I’m sorry. It’s a dirty habit,” she says. “Don’t you start it now.”

            “I won’t. And I wish you would stop.”

            She laughs. “You’re not the only one, believe me.”

            My mom and I have come to stay with Grandma for a while because my parents can’t get along. I don’t like to see my family split up like this, but I’m grateful because, without these trips to Grandma’s, I’d never see her. Thanksgiving and Christmas just isn’t often enough.

            I’m out here to ask Grandma to put The Muppet Movie on the TV for me, but now that we’ve got this time alone together while Mom’s at the store getting supplies for our sleep-over, we might be able to have a real conversation about what’s going on with my family.



            I hesitate before asking, “Do my mom and dad love me?”

            “Of course they love you, sweetheart.”

            “I’m not so sure about that.”

“Why not?”

“Because… because I feel like if they really did love me, they’d stop fighting.”

            Grandma sinks back into her seat. If I weren’t here, she’d light another cigarette, but she feels me staring at her, waiting to pounce. So instead she looks out on the small, well-kept lawn that her landlord takes care of for her every week. I silently pat myself on the back: Because of me, Grandma will live eleven minutes longer than she would have.


What will she do with this extra time? I wonder.

            Maybe she’ll spend it with me at Disneyland. For a person with cerebral palsy, like me, Disneyland is an even happier place on Earth. Lines don’t exist. Eleven minutes is another ride on your favorite roller coaster, another riverboat ride through the Caribbean.

            Grandma’s never really liked roller coasters, has she? She likes the idea of moving fast; it’s leaving her house she struggles with. I guess that means go-karts are out, too. But she does like a good baseball game.

            Eleven minutes is an extra inning of Mariner baseball called by Dave Niehaus. Another go-around of that fabled game 5 bottom of the 11th in 1995.

            “Swung on and… lined down the left field line for a base hit! Here comes Joey! Here is Junior to third base…. They’re gonna wave him in. The throw to the plate will be… late! It just continues, my oh my!”

            Her first love, though, has always been good movies. She was the first in her neighborhood to own a VCR, and she has the biggest collection of videotapes I’ve ever seen. Eleven minutes would just about get her through another watch of the triumphant end to George Bailey’s journey. She’d go away thinking, Yes, it is a wonderful life.


Grandma’s voice—she’s talking to herself–brings me back to now. I’m staring at nothing when I come back, so I almost don’t see her trying to sneak a cigarette. But there she is, out of the corner of my eye….

`“Grandma!” I yell.

It surprises her and she almost drops the lit stick. Catches it just before it falls to the ground. “What, sweetheart? What is it?”

“I want you to live,” I tell her. “I don’t want you to go away. I want you to be here. Forever.”

“Forever’s a long time,” she chuckles. “But I’ll be here as long as I can. How’s that? Would you like a piece of gum?” She reaches into her purse, takes out a pack of Trident.


This whole what could you do in eleven minutes idea has me asking around. When Mom and I go back home, she makes up with Dad, and I ask him when she’s off watching All My Children , “Dad… what could you do in eleven minutes?”

He makes a strange face. Puts the football game we’re watching on MUTE. “I don’t know. That’s a weird question, even for you. Eleven minutes?”


“Well, I could write a few good pages, I suppose.”

That makes sense. Dad’s a writer. Sometimes it seems like all he does is write.

I ask Mom the same question. She doesn’t make a face like Dad, and she answers right away.

            “Any extra time I get I’d spend out in the sun, tanning.”

            Over the next couple years, the question never quite leaves my mind. It’s always at the back, lurking, and as I enter my teens, I ask it of my younger brother.

            “Video games,” he says. “If you pick the right game, eleven minutes can get you through a level or two.” I know he’s thinking specifically of the new James Bond Goldeneye game he just got for Christmas, but he doesn’t want to come right out and say that.


Many years pass. Years when I find out I’ll never drive, which devastates me. That not all girls are nice like my mom, or think it’s cool that I’m able to shrug off my cerebral palsy most of the time, or turn words into stories. Years when I learn bullies are no fun, unless you are one, and probably not even then. Years when not being able to walk like the other kids goes from a unique oddity in fourth grade to something that ends up leaving me sad and alone most middle-school days. Through all of these years and more, through my graduations from high school and college and beyond, I talk to Grandma on the phone each week. I prefer Wednesdays. Whenever she answers the phone, it’s always with: “Hello, sweetheart!” like there’s no place she’d rather be than sitting in her kitchen, stretching the phone cord as far as it will go, talking to me.

            She has quit smoking, finally, a function of the open-heart surgery she underwent, the pacemaker that was installed, the coughing fits she’d get into if she lit up. She has left the house with the manicured lawn and the screen-door to the porch where she smoked away so many years. Now the husband she re-married five summers ago, my grandfather, is gone, and she has relocated to a senior community, where everyone calls her “The cookie lady”. She has to be careful not to singe her wig when taking the fresh cookies from the oven.

            Today’s a Wednesday, and her phone rings. She picks it up.

            “Hi, sweetheart.”

            “What are you up to today, Grandma?”

            “I’m making cookies.” When is she not making cookies? “Everybody here just loves them.” So do I. “Then I’m gonna watch Idol tonight. You’ll be watching it, too, won’t you?”

            “Yeah.” Sometimes I call her the day after American Idol, to talk about what’s happened. More often than not, though, she’s out with one of her friends, or downstairs putting out a fresh cookie batch, not there to answer. I can count on Wednesdays.

            She never travels far. It’s as if her entire life is lived within a five-mile radius of where she lays her head, and she is not technologically inclined. That revolution is lost on her. She’s sent me a total of one e-mail, to tell me how much she loved the Johnny Cash movie, Walk The Line. This means our phone calls are our only contact.

            “I need to tell you something, sweetheart,” she says, when I’m finished relating my latest gossipy anecdote. Both of us love gossip.

“Can you believe my dad caught our crazy neighbor burning plastic?” I asked her, breathless. “This just happened yesterday. Dad was so mad.”

“No, I really can’t,” she’d replied, sounding appropriately incredulous, before launching into her news.

I figure it’ll be another nugget of gossip. The comings and goings, arrivals and departures of Fountain Court Senior Apartments.

“A few weeks ago… when I was baking cookies… I fell. I passed out.”

“Grandma, why are you just telling me this now?”

“I didn’t want to worry you. I made your mom promise she wouldn’t say anything.”

“Mom knew? Knows?”


“So what’s going on? Did you go to the doctor?”

“Yes. She says I have cancer.”


            Lung cancer’s a bitch. I’ve already lost one revered grandparent to it, and I am preparing myself to lose another. When Mom calls me from work on a Friday—something she rarely does; I’ll call her at the office, but her call me… I think not—she says, “Let’s go and visit Grandma tomorrow. She fell again yesterday.”

            “She did? Is she okay?”

            “She’s fine. But she’s in the hospital.”

            Immediately, tension takes my body hostage. I forget to breathe for a second or two.

            “Honey…. honey, are you still there?” Mom asks.

            “I’m here. You’re gonna pick me up tomorrow, and we’re going to the hospital?”


            “What time should I be ready?”

“Let’s say noon. How’s that?”

“Fine with me.”

Mom ends the call with, “I love you, honey. I’m sorry I had to call with this, but I love you so, so much.”


            “Use the elevator just past the fish tank,” the lady at the hospital’s front desk tells us.

            It’s odd: The things you find funny when faced with impending tragedy. To us—Mom and me–the idea of the elevator we have to take up to Grandma’s room being referred to as “the elevator just past the fish tank” is hilarious, and we’re giggling as we walk the corridor. Grandma would be laughing, too.

            The room is a two-bedder. As we enter, a stranger we don’t know—a woman fond of screaming for a family who isn’t here–stares Death in the face, and Death stares back, his vacant eyes saying, You can’t cheat me this time, lady. This time I’m gonna win.

            My Grandma isn’t having the stare-down yet, thank God. She is still Grandma.

            “Have you guys been watching the football playoffs?”

            “I sure have, Grandma. I was watching the game before we came to see you.”

            She smiles at me, standing at the side of her bed. “I was watching it, too. But that one over there-“ She head-gestures toward the unfortunate woman- “she couldn’t take the sound. I coulda watched it on mute, but since I was listening to it while trying to grab a nap, that didn’t work very well. Finally I just turned it off. They say I should be outa here in a couple days. That means I’ll be home in time for the Super Bowl!”

            Standing in one spot for any length of time—not moving a muscle but just standing there, trying to keep myself from tipping over—is one of the most painful experiences anyone with cerebral palsy can have. Anyone with cerebral palsy who still maintains the use of their legs, that is.

            There is an overwhelming smell of urine, and if it were up to me Mom and I would step into the hall, take a moment, find a bench and some fresher air. But it isn’t up to me. So I ask, “Grandma, do you think I could sit down?”

            “Sure, sweetheart.” She then goes into the best and most authoritative yell she can issue from a hospital bed: “Can someone please get my grandson a chair?”

            I’ve got my chair; uncomfortable though it is, it’s a place to sit, and now Grandma’s talking about the old days. She gets my mom reminiscing about her childhood. All I can latch onto are the names of relatives I vaguely know. I can not share in communal remembrances.

            After about twenty minutes, Grandma needs to go to the bathroom. A nurse is called in to help, and Mom and I leave. There’s a Godfather’s Pizza across the street. That’s an interesting location-choice, I think. You won’t ever be lacking for business, but still it’s kind of strange, isn’t it?


            Grandma is indeed sent home in a couple days, as she had suspected would happen. I call her the following Wednesday.

            This conversation, unlike all our others, does not feel upbeat or light-hearted. Not at first. Something is weighing my heart down.


            She can tell I’m fighting to hold onto my composure. “What is it, sweetheart?”

            Say it now. You might never get the chance again, I hear in my head.

            “I just wanted to tell you…. I wanted you to know… that whatever happens… I know I can’t drive out there to see you like my other cousins can, but I’ve always loved you, and I always will, and I hope you know that.”

            “Of course I do, sweetheart.”

            “Good.” My heart is unburdened. “So, are you happy to be home?”

            “Oh, I’m so happy. I was having soap-opera withdrawal, and everyone here was missing their cookies.”

`           The conversation goes on like this for a few more minutes. Then Grandma says, “Well, honey, I better get going. I gotta go downstairs and put out this batch.”

            “Okay, Grandma.” I circle back to our first topic. I have a sixth sense the end could be close, but I won’t admit it aloud. “Whatever happens, I love you.”

            “Whatever happens, I love you, too. Always. We’ve always had a special bond.”

            Why did she have to say that? Now I’m crying.

            “Bye, Grandma.”

            “Good-bye, sweetheart.” It’s the way in which she says it—with a finality she might not have intended, but it sneaks into her tone, anyway—that confirms my hunch. This will be the last time we talk.

            Three days later, Mom calls to say Grandma’s back in the hospital. “She’s in a coma, but they say she can still hear us, and I think we should go see her. To say good-bye.” I go, more to be there for my mom than for anything I left unsaid, and Grandma passes away two days after our last trip up in the elevator just past the fish tank.

When my phone-bill arrives, I scroll down until I find the last call I ever made to my grandmother’s phone number. Duration: 11 Mins.