Writing for a Friend and a Cause
Renee Holder and I first met in 2005 as coworkers, and quickly became friends. In 2008, she was one of my bridesmaids. Three weeks after my wedding, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Some people would feel sorry for themselves, but Renee is not “some people.” She immediately formed a team to walk in the annual MS Walk, and started fundraising for the National MS Society. I agreed to join the team, mostly to support her, plus I needed the exercise.
The thing about Renee is this: she is creative and motivated and passionate about the things she believes in, and this inspires those around her to want to embrace those things, too. She wanted to raise money for the National MS Society. I wanted to help.
In 2015, I released My Mom Has MS, a children’s picture book intended to help young kids understand the illness. We used it to help fundraise for the MS Walk, and a portion of the book’s sales profits are donated to the National MS Society. The book stars Renee’s family, and really focuses on her son Patrick. Response to the book was positive. More importantly, Renee and her family loved it. So I wrote a second one.
I’m proud to announce the release of My Mom, MS, and a Sixth-Grade Mess, available now on Amazon and in select retail stores. But I did say I wanted to use the book to raise money for the National MS Society, didn’t I? If you visit my MS Walk page at http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/staceylongo and donate $20 or more, I’ll send you a signed copy of My Mom, MS, and a Sixth-Grade Mess to thank you for your donation.
The following is an excerpt from the book:
“How’s school going? Nobody’s teasing you about that unibrow, are they?”
What? What did he mean? My hand went to my forehead for a quick assessment. Did I have a unibrow? That was the second time in a few days the subject had come up. Why did everyone keep using that word around me?
“Jonathan, don’t be mean,” I heard Sophia say, but I was already up from my chair. I bolted to the bathroom to check my reflection.
The proof was in the pudding—or in this case, in the giant black caterpillar that was affixed above my eyes. How had I not seen this before? Wait—on the bus—had Kelly and Drew been making fun of me?
“Don’t listen to Jonathan,” Mom said from the doorway. “You look handsome.”
“I do have a unibrow,” I said. “Why didn’t you say something?”
Mom made her way behind me, stopping in front of the mirror. We had matching faces—our cheekbones, jawlines, even our short, round noses were exactly the same. “You look fine, Patrick. Honestly. Why are you worrying about this? Come back to the table and finish dinner.”
I couldn’t tell Mom that my best friend—really, I should make him my former best friend—and the prettiest girl in school had been making fun of me. That would require admitting that I liked Kelly, and that was not something I wanted to clue my mom in on. “Can you fix it? Shave it or something?” I whispered.
“I guess I could wax it,” Mom said. “Are you really this bothered?”
“Yes,” I practically shouted. “I look like a caveman! Can we do it now?”
“After dinner, honey. Let’s sit and visit with your brother before Sophia spirits him away.”
I could barely concentrate through the rest of dinner. Every time someone asked me a question or talked to me, I studied their eyes. Were they staring at the brow? How could they see anything but?
Stacey Longo is the author of Ordinary Boy (nominated for a Pushcart Prize) and Secret Things: Twelve Tales to Terrify. Her stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, including Shroud, Shock Totem, and the Litchfield Literary Review.
She is a past Hiram Award winner, and was a featured author on the 2014 Connecticut Authors Trail. A former humor columnist for the Block Island Times, she maintains a weekly humor blog at www.staceylongo.com.