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Last summer, I had the distinct privilege of reading an early copy of Claire Bidwell Smith's stunning memoir The Rules of Inheritance. Claire and I had met in this world, this blogging world, and were united by the fact that we loved to write and that we had both lost our dads to cancer. Claire had also lost her mother, also to cancer, mere months before losing her father. Her memoir is about that time in her life, that dark and messy and instructive time, that time when she said an impossible pair of goodbyes and struggled with the monster that is grief, and came out on the other side humble and triumphant and with a beautiful story to tell.

Claire asked me if I would be willing to write a blurb for her forthcoming book if I read it and felt so inclined. And I read it. I read it on the sunny porch of my uncle's Cape Cod house - a place that figures prominently in Claire's life - and I just loved it. The book was, and is, gorgeous, and it made me laugh and cry and nod and ignore my children for acceptable chunks of time. It made me feel deeply. I wrote the following words which now appear on the back of Claire's book:

Graceful and gritty, and ultimately uplifting. Smith writes gorgeously about the existential tug between life and death that defined her young life. Profoundly personal and exquisitely universal, this story will touch all of us, not just those of us who have faced similar losses.

I wrote these words and I said to Claire, over email: You have written something really important. A book that is going to touch people, and help them. I expect big things. And I do. The book's been out for less than a week and it's already doing big things.

Last night, I met Claire in person for the first time. Husband and I went downtown to her book launch party which was held in the home of the incomparable and gracious Susan Shapiro who was once Claire's writing professor. The party was low key and absolutely lovely, teeming with people who all had one thing in common - that they want good things for Claire. And Claire? She's tall and she's beautiful and smart. She said a few thank yous - to her agent, to her editor, to her hostess for the evening, to all of us. She said that this is her dream, writing a book, publishing a book. Her dream. And I nodded because I know what this feels like, this feeling of immense overwhelm and amazement and gratitude.

My favorite moments of the evening were the few I snagged with Claire herself. She is pregnant with her second child and is absolutely glowing. She clutched her belly and told me that she doesn't know what she's having. She told me that her two-year-old daughter insists that mommy carry her everywhere which is getting harder and harder by the day. This made me laugh because I was there once, on the street corner, negotiating with a tiny thing. She introduced Husband and me to two great people, two friends of hers, Channah and Francesca, a therapist and writer respectively, and we all stood there in the corner of this vibrant Tuesday soiree and talked. We talked about babies and books and blogs. We talked about this incomparable city, about how it cradles us all, and truly inspires.

I went to bed last night feeling thoughtful and happy. Because it was a good night. I got to go to a party and mingle with wonderful people. I got to meet a fellow writer and mother and sister in grief and I got to give her a hug and feel the curve of her future, the energy of her excitement, the quiet fury of her fear. Because it is all scary, isn't it? Putting ourselves out there, out here, our hopes and our dreams, our souls and our stories, hoping that our words might mean something, that people will listen to them and understand, hoping that people will see us, really see us.

I encourage each and every one of you to purchase a copy of Claire's beautiful book. And if any of you are here in the city, I would love it if you'd join me on February 15 for her reading at the Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side. Email me at ivyleagueinsecurities at gmail.com if you plan to attend! {Oh, and Mom and sisters, I'm going to insist that you come with me! You will love Claire and what she has to say. We can do a girls' dinner after!}

Have you met a digital friend or colleague in real life? Have you been around someone recently who is living his/her dream? Have you experienced loss and grief in your own life? Do you think about the loss and grief we are all destined to feel one day or do you try to avoid thinking about such things? Do you agree with me that loss and grief can, if we let them, be exquisite things?

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