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Keeping the Faith

Faithfully Yours #3

by A.M. Leibowitz

Keeping the Faith - A.M. Leibowitz
Editions:Kindle: $ 8.99 USD
ISBN: B0764ZQMJP
Pages: 238
Paperback: $ 17.99 USD
ISBN: 978-1944591274
Pages: 238

It’s been three years since Micah’s spouse, Cat, passed away at the age of thirty-six. In the process of cleaning his house, Micah discovers a series of letters Cat hid before he died, in which he made one request: that Micah empty his life of Cat as a way of moving on. Micah has been able to work through his sorrow, but he’s unable to fulfill Cat’s last wish. He can’t see a way past his loneliness despite all the caring people around him.

Enter two new friendships. Jude, Micah’s vivacious new coworker, brings joy back into his life. But she has a big secret about her family, and the truth will rock Micah’s understanding of who she is. Chris, the new minister at Cat’s former church, intrigues Micah. Unlike Jude, Chris is an open book, from his musings on theology to his work as a trans advocate and activist. His gentle manner and deep faith become safe space for Micah to open up about his loss.

Through them, Micah becomes involved with the town’s new community center, where he offers a creative writing class. Using Cat’s detailed letters, he fictionalizes their love story to share with his students. In doing so, he at last begins to sort through his complicated grief. Micah learns he doesn’t have to erase his life with Cat in order to make new memories. He may even be falling for Chris, despite their vastly different spiritual views. With a little help from family and friends, Micah will need to open his heart to love completely again.

Excerpt:

Shouldering his bag, Micah stepped out of the room and nearly collided with Chris. “Sorry,” he said. It came out more snippy than he’d intended, and he backtracked. “That was rude of me. I apologize.”

“It’s all right. I came to see how you were doing.”

Something in his tone and words irritated Micah, as though Chris was playing pastor with him. He kept a lid on his frustration long enough to say, “You didn’t have to do that.”

Chris’s frown was more sad and confused than angry. “I know I didn’t. You haven’t seemed like yourself today, and I thought maybe you’d like to…I don’t know. Go somewhere quieter. To talk?”

“You don’t have to counsel me. I’m not one of your congregants.” Micah tried to step around him.

Catching his arm, Chris said, “Is that what you thought?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

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“First of all, I don’t offer therapy. Second, I’m doing this as your friend, not as your minister.”

Micah let out a sigh and leaned against the wall. “I’m sorry. Again.”

“No need.” Chris paused. “Can you tell me what’s going on?”

“It’s the anniversary. Cat died exactly three years ago today.”

“Ah, I’m so sorry.” Chris’s hand on Micah’s arm was warm and comforting. “And you’re here instead of at home.”

“I didn’t want to be alone today.” Micah sniffled, but he held it together for the most part. “You know what I usually do? I go visit my friend Zayne and sit on her couch, eating ice cream and talking about him.”

Chris stepped back. “You could come over. I probably have some cookie dough ice cream, and my couch is pretty comfy.”

Micah stared at him for several seconds before he completely lost it. He sank down onto the floor and drew his knees up, covering his face as he bawled. He could almost feel the shock coming off Chris as he sat down too, pulling Micah closer.

“Sh,” he murmured. “I’ve got you.”

“I-it was his favorite,” Micah blubbered. “C-cookie dough. He couldn’t have the real stuff. Lactose intolerant. Made him really sick. Oh my god, I miss him.”

Micah sobbed in Chris’s arms for a long time. No one but family—which included Pam and Zayne—had seen him like this. Woven in with his grief was shame and the fear he was placing too much of a burden on Chris by asking him to stay. He took several gulping breaths and tried to stem his tears. At last he had enough control that he could sit upright. Chris kept an arm around him and reached into his jacket with his free hand. He passed Micah a packet of tissues.

“God. I’m sorry, for the third time. You don’t need me going on like this.” Micah wiped his face.

“It’s really all right. Why don’t you ever talk about him?”

Micah shrugged. “I’m never sure when is the right time or how much is too much. I’m not even always sure when I need to. Grief is…weird.”

“It can be,” Chris agreed. “Do you want to go somewhere? This is an important day. If you need to talk about Cat, I’m here.”

“I’d like that.” Micah pushed himself off the floor and picked up his bag. “Meet you in town?”

“You got it.”

COLLAPSE

About the Author

A. M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. They keep warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. They are an occasional host for The BiCast, a podcast for the bi+ community, as well as doing bi+ advocacy work. They are a social media contributor for Supposed Crimes, LLC, and they post news and reviews for several LGBTQIA websites. In between noveling and freelance editing, they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and their family.


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