March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and I wrote this essay/article to tell folks about my history with brain injury, provide some brain injury statistics, and discuss resources for those in Maine who have suffered a concussion, stroke, or other brain injury, including the upcoming 2017 Maine Brain Injury Resource Fair. While many people know that I am a writer, my day job is working as a brain injury advocate and educator here in Maine. I have an intimate history with brain injury, both from my days playing soccer (before we knew that concussions were cumulative) and as a caregiver for my late husband, Steve. I am grateful every day to be able to make a difference in the lives of Maine brain injury survivors, families, and the professionals supporting them. You can find more information about brain injury resources and supports in Maine through the Brain Injury Association of America's Maine Chapter here.
Did you miss your chance to pre-order MAINE knits? Good news, it's now available for purchase over at Thread & Ladle. I'm so pleased to have an essay in this absolutely stunning book of Maine sea, farm, and wild inspired knitting patterns. It makes a lovely gift for your favorite knitter in your life (or yourself) and is truly a beautiful piece of art.
This poem, "Yes, that," was published last month in the Maine Sunday Telegram/Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance's Deep Water Poetry Series, but I missed its appearance. Grief is a bewildering thing and this was one of many poems that I wrote in the aftermath of my husband's death. You can read "Yes, that" here.
My latest essay is up with Headspace: Stitch by Stitch. It's about my long love affair with knitting as both creative endeavor and mental distraction and a sweater that took me forever to finish as I was knitting it for my daughter as my husband was dying.
I'm thrilled to announce that the lovely book, MAINE knits, is now available for preorder. The book is a compilation of knitting patterns inspired by the sea, farms, and wilds of Maine, as well as essays by Maine writers, including one of mine. It is a beautiful publication filled with heart and soul and lovely projects. If you love Maine and love to knit, this is the book for you! Preorders will arrive in January 2017 (and if you want to order it as a gift, you can have a card sent indicating the book's January arrival!). Order your copy here!
While this has nothing to do with my writing work, after years of making handmade cards (with hand-carved stamps, dried flowers, etc), I am finally selling some of them through one of my local farms (just down the road!), 47 Daisies. This collection is a variety of Gulf of Maine marine life (horseshoe crab, rock weed, moon snail, starfish, and mussels) in different combinations and colors. They were a lot of fun to make and make great (and affordable - just $10 for a pack of five cards with envelopes) gift for your Maine/marine life/handmade item loving family or friends. You can purchase the cards (as well as other beautiful items made by local artisans) here. They also ship nationwide!
Today would have been my 10th wedding anniversary. In honor of that (and because my daughter had a random in-service day off of school today), we drove to the western mountains of Maine to Smalls Falls, a beautiful area near Saddleback Mountain, where her father and I got married. Smalls Falls has waterfalls, some light hiking trails, and a picnic area. The day was warm and sunny and beautiful - just like the day Steve and I got married. We had a picnic lunch together and then spent a while wandering around. We connected with another mom and her 9-year-old son and explored with them for a while. On the way home, we stopped for ice cream and bought pumpkins from a roadside stand.
When I got home, I learned that one of my essays had been published a little ahead of schedule. Not only was this an essay about dating and finding love again after my husband's death, but the inspiration that started the essay in my brain was the coincidence that my boyfriend's birthday is the day after my husband's death anniversary. And now, uncannily, it had come into the world on what would have been my 10th wedding anniversary.
Without further ado: On Finding Love Again as a Single Mom
Two years ago this September, Zoe and I attended Camp Ray of Hope for the first time. CROH is a camping weekend for grieving families and individuals. It's a safe and wonderful place to talk about your grief openly with others, and it made a huge impact on Zoe and I. Here's a little essay about our experience, published today in the Bangor Daily News.
My family was exceedingly lucky when innumerable friends, family members, and community organizations came to our aid during some of our most difficult days while Steve was dying. This essay, up today at the Bangor Daily News, explores the support we received and how I am trying to raise Zoe to understand the importance of giving back.
Sarah Kilch Gaffney lives and writes on a little piece of land in Maine.