Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Passing of Jennifer Rardin

I went online today to read the latest news from my favorite authors and was deeply saddened to discover that Jennifer Rardin passed away. For those who don't know, she's the author of the Jaz Parks novels. (Once Bitten Twice Shy, Another One Bites the Dust, Biting the Bullet, Bitten to Death, One More Bite, Bite Marks & two more books in the series that have not been released yet.) I love these books, not just because they're a wonderful blend of adventure, action and humor...

I love these books for very personal reasons.

You see, when my son was diagnosed with aspergers syndrome (originally the diagnosis was high-functioning autism) my life stopped. It was already revolving around him and his struggles, but that diagnosis ended my world as I knew it. Suddenly life became about doctors and therapists and proper school services and fighting systems that just don't care that your kid needs something extra to develop. Autism/aspergers became all consuming. Every minute of every day was taken up with it. Everything that made me me, everything that I loved was put aside. I had no time for anything, and when I did have time, I was too exhausted to do anything with it.

Then one day a little over two years ago my son & I were at Barnes & Nobles. My son was 12 at the time, being homeschooled (because school wasn't working for him) and we were shopping for books for him. Once Bitten Twice Shy caught my eye. I stopped. I picked it up. I read the first page while he paced beside me. And I added it to my stack of books. That night, after he was in bed, I read about Jaz and Vayl. I stayed up late into the night reading until my eyes wouldn't focus anymore. And I remembered. I remembered how much I used to love reading. I remembered how much I loved urban fantasy. I remembered what it was like to have "me time". How could I have forgotten that?

The next day, I got up and dragged my son to three different bookstores to find the rest of the books in the series. And I read every chance I could. I laughed at the craziness of the characters. I laughed - something else I'd forgotten how to do. When I finished Jennifer's books, I went out and bought other urban fantasy series. I made "me time" an essential part of my day. I started crafting again. I started writing again. (I have a degree in journalism and since 1st grade teachers have encouraged me to become a writer. It was another something I loved but had abandoned.) I entered a short story contest on Deadline Dames and won!

In effect, reading that first book woke me up. It reminded me to be me. To take the time for me. It found me in the dark, took my hand and guided me into the light. I never met her, but Jennifer gave me my life back.

I visited Jennifer's blog every day. Her short stories based on readers' imput made me laugh on days when laughter was hard to come by. I entered a contest (and WON) & now proudly display a signed copy of Once Bitten Twice Shy on my bookshelves. Those bookshelves are filled with urban fantasy books I now own because she reminded me I LOVE to read! I started this blog because of my love of reading and my desire to share the books I love with others.

I joke with my son that someday I'm going to have an outfit like Jaz's & I show him the picture on the book. All that black leather .He lectures me that mothers don't dress that way, asks if he can have the katana and then we laugh together. Its our standing joke.

So, God bless you and keep you Jennifer Rardin. My heart and prayers go out to your family. You have no idea what you did for me. I wish I'd had the opportunity to tell you. I'll miss reading Jaz & Vayl tales; I'll miss your blog; I will miss you.

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