I am working on a children’s picture book about a little girl named Madeleine.

Madeleine, who is very precocious (and, IMHO, very cute), is going to have all sorts of adventures, mostly in her back yard. Her first one involves an unexpected visitor in the watering can.

Madeleine is a very special little girl … but I want you to meet her before I tell you any more about her. (BTW, things are going to get a little flaky under the picture, so if that’s likely to bug you, go ahead and click “back” to return to whatever it was you were reading before you wandered in here.)

Anyway, here’s Madeleine:


Madeleine was conceived about four and a half years ago. And she was almost born.

In August 2001, I was on vacation on Route 66 in Williams, Ariz., when I experienced symptoms consistent with an early-term miscarriage. I suspected I might be pregnant but hadn’t taken a test to confirm that. And I was so overwhelmed with all these weird emotions that I didn’t have presence of mind enough to take a test afterward, either … so for four and a half years, I’ve wondered if I’m just nuts, grieving for someone who never existed in the first place, or if I actually lost a child that day.

Whatever happened that day, it’s eaten at me ever since. I finally got tired of feeling rotten about it, so a couple of months ago, I called a Christian Science practitioner to help me sort it out. She was very kind and very helpful, and after working with her on the problem for a few days, I started to feel a little better about it and told her I thought I could take it from there.

In the meantime, three different people described me as “childlike.” One of them was my mom, who got an excited e-mail from me about finding a little tree frog perched on Songdog’s water bowl one evening. Her reply was something to the effect that there was a 5-year-old trapped inside me, and I needed to let her out to write books.

I sort of blew off the idea at the time, but a few weeks later, I was talking to a friend, and we had this very elaborate metaphysical conversation about some of Mary Baker Eddy’s ideas, including the notion that we are all spiritual ideas that God thought up, not material beings made of blood and bone.

A few days later, it hit me: It doesn’t matter whether there was once a physical being growing inside of me. It matters that an idea has been growing inside of me ever since. All of a sudden, my friend’s comments, my mom’s suggestion about writing children’s books, and four and a half years’ worth of mental images of my unborn child (whom I’ve always referred to as “Madeleine”) came together, and in that instant, as I waited for a red light to turn green, an entire book about Madeleine sprang into my thought, complete with illustrations.

I felt much better, but the healing still wasn’t quite complete … until tonight, when I finally sat down, put brush to paper, and saw Madeleine’s little face smiling up at me.

Madeleine is alive. She has a personality and a story and a face. She’s a busy, inquisitive, precocious little girl. And like most busy, inquisitive, precocious little girls, she is teaching me to see the world through her innocent eyes.

What a blessing.


P.S.: You will think I am a total cheeseball for this, but as I was writing just now, I was listening to Delilah on the radio, and she played that song “I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You.” I nearly choked on the back of my tongue trying to keep back the tears.