Description From the Lake House by Kristen RademacherDizzy with grief after a shattering breakup, Kristen did what any sensible thirty-nine-year-old woman would do: she fled, abandoning her well-ordered life in metropolitan Boston and impulsively relocating to a college town in North Carolina to start anew with a freshly divorced southerner. Dismissing the neon signs that flashed Rebound Relationship, Kristen was charmed by the host of contrasts with her new beau. He loved hunting and country music, she loved yoga and NPR; he worried about nothing, she worried about everything. The luster of her new romance and small-town lifestyle soon?and predictably?faded, but by then a pregnancy test stick had lit up. As Kristen’s belly grew, so did her concern about the bond with her partner?and so did a fierce love for her unborn child. Ready or not, she was about to become a mother. And then, tragedy struck. Poignant and insightful, From the Lake House explores the echoes of rash decisions and ill-fated relationships, the barren and disorienting days an aching mother faces without her baby, and the mysterious healing that can take root while rebuilding a life gutted from loss.
Advance Praise From the Lake House by Kristen Rademacher“Over the course of this book, in well-structured, descriptive prose, Rademacher effectively leads readers through a gradually withering romantic relationship that culminates in a tragedy . . . Some of the most painful sections of the book are her loving letters to the little girl whom she held for but an hour, and whom she named Carly. It soon becomes clear that these missives helped to lead her back from a precipice of despair, so that she could finally face her future. A poignant and painful remembrance with comforting messages for the grieving.”-Kirkus Reviews “Kristen Rademacher’s achingly honest memoir about her losses of place, partner, and much-anticipated baby daughter Carly resonates with courage and an abiding gratitude for the preciousness of life. A truly tender reflection about loss that illuminates the devastating experience of baby loss.”-Janel Atlas, writer and editor of They Were Still Born: Personal Stories about Stillbirth “From the Lake House is an intimate, inspiring story of surviving in a world where blessings and tragedy walk hand in hand. Written with tender honesty and luscious language, it is a joy to read, even amidst the pangs of heartache and loss. As a bereaved mother, I found myself nodding in agreement with so many of Rademacher’s experiences of life after the death of a child . . . This book is for memoir-lovers and anyone who finds themselves in a turbulent relationship or who has said goodbye to a dearly loved child . . . Rademacher champions solitude for its healing capacities and the wholeness birthed from dogged, hard-earned resiliency. Perceptive and endearing, it is a moving saga of motherhood.”-Alexis Marie Chute, award-winning author of Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing, and Pregnancy After Loss “In this beautifully written and poignant memoir, we learn that though people and dreams die, relationships don't. If we're attuned, the dead can transform our lives, offering enduring love and guidance?and hope.”-Carol Henderson, author of Losing Malcolm: A Mother's Journey Through Loss and Farther Along: The Writing Journey of Thirteen Bereaved Mothers
Enjoy an Excerpt
Excerpt from Chapter 8: Night-Light
The midwives praised my good health and thriving baby whose heartbeat
was always steady and strong. “You’re a model patient,” they all said. I gained
weight on schedule, all blood tests were normal, and once I was well into my second
trimester, I felt good. Both Jason and I looked forward to the ultrasound, a chance to
take a peek at our child in action. My favorite midwife explained that it would also
confirm our due date and pick up on any possible abnormalities in the fetus. “But
you’re in excellent health, no concerning family history for either you or Jason. I’m
not expecting any problems.”
“Don’t tell us the gender,” Jason told the technician on ultrasound day as I
hoisted myself on the steel table in a hospital examination room. I opened my robe
to expose my rounded belly while the technician readied her equipment. Jason stood
next to me, eyes fixated on the monitor next to us. “You want a surprise, huh?” the
young, energetic nurse asked.
I did want a surprise, even though every cell in my body believed we would
have a boy. I never pictured myself as a mother to girls, maybe because I grew up
with two brothers, and maybe because as a teacher I enjoyed the most mischievous
boys in the class, the ones who made other teachers nuts. I loved male energy, and
while I would have been thrilled with a girl, that possibility rarely crossed my mind.
Older women reinforced my fantasy. I’d at times get an unsolicited prediction from a
friendly senior citizen when shopping for groceries. “I know it’s early,” she’d say,
“but I’ve been around for a long time, and some things I just know. You’re carrying a
boy.” I’d smile, and my certainty grew that in the years ahead, I’d be strolling the
supermarket with a little boy sitting in the front of the cart.
“Wow,” Jason said repeatedly as the nurse pointed out our baby’s various
parts, like the heart, stomach, mouth. “Just look at him, Kris, he’s moving his arm.”
My child, who besides appearing like every other eighteen-week fetus as seen
through a fuzzy ultrasound image, looked adorable, little hand reaching up toward
The technician smiled. “Everything looks great. You’re right on track; due
date looks good.”
We celebrated the glimpse of our baby with high-fat cheese- burgers at a
noisy, crowded diner. I was famished, as always, and we were both giddy.
“What if he’s born on Christmas?” Jason asked as we dipped fry after greasy
fry into ketchup. The due date was January 2nd, and I had already been hoping this
wouldn’t be the case. A Christmas birth would mean my poor child would have a
lifetime of birthdays lost in the midst of holiday madness. His special day would be
divided into the Christmas half and the birthday half, and it already felt like too
much to plan for. Funny how in my last pregnant weeks, his birth date did cycle
through my rotation of concerns, along with whether my three-month maternity
leave would be enough, or how we would ever afford childcare. It never occurred to
me to worry about a healthy baby.
“Let’s just hope he doesn’t arrive early,” I said. “Once Thanksgiving hits, we’ll
sail straight through till New Year’s, pack up holiday stuff, and then I’ll deliver.”
“Deal,” Jason said. “We’ll just keep you incredibly still starting December
24th. No walking, no moving, no talking, no blinking.”
We chuckled, and then Jason reached across the table and grabbed my hand.
“Hey, I love you, you know.” Our eyes locked. “We’re going to make this work, Kris.”
“I love you too, Jason.”
We finished our lunch, walked down the block to my office building, and
kissed good-bye. We seemed like an ordinary pregnant couple, and I felt a tentative
sense of hope as I started up my computer and settled at my desk. We can be a
happy family, I reassured myself. If Jason’s career takes off, I reasoned, half of our
stress will be gone. I hoped the baby would draw us closer and perhaps bring out a
side to Jason that would take charge and get organized. And perhaps bring out a side
to me that fretted less.
Our excitement buoyed us, but before long we slipped back into our adopted
roles. Jason was the discombobulated entrepreneur, and I was the worrier, hovering
over the checkbook each week trying to keep us in the black.
I hushed up about my anxiety. Who was I going to tell, anyway? I did not yet
have a solid circle of friends in Chapel Hill, and while I told my coworkers about the
general stress Jason and I felt, I allowed them to chalk it up to expectant parental
jitters. And what was I supposed to say to my family and Boston friends? “I know
this will come as a shock after my well-planned and careful move to North Carolina
with Jason, but I’m kind of nervous about parenting together.” So no one knew that I
longed to be cared for, wanted an occasional foot rub or a home-cooked meal made
by someone else’s hands. Jason kept forgetting to scoop the cats’ litter day a after
day—a task pregnant women are advised to avoid—so I did the job myself,
scrubbing my hands afterward and tamping down resentment.
Despite my growing concerns and loneliness, I communed with the life inside
me wholeheartedly. Throughout the still moments of my days, I sent messages to my
baby floating in my womb, pictured his hand curled under his chin. Are you awake in
there? Listen to this. I’d stand at my kitchen sink washing dishes, imagining he heard
the water running from the faucet. Do you hear my keyboard clicking? I’d wonder as I
typed away on my computer at work. Stepping off the city bus that shuttled me from
campus back to my neighborhood at the end of the day, I’d waddle up the long
gravel road that led to my street. How do you like this bouncing? I’d push my feet
through the pine needles and wonder how his little ears took to my quickened
heartbeat. Once you’re here, we’re going to stroll all over the neighborhood. Wait till
you see these tall trees with red and yellow leaves sailing to the ground. I pictured
myself a year in the future pushing my toddler along the streets in a hand-me-down
stroller, wisps of his fine hair fluttering in the breeze, his chubby fingers grasping
the safety bar. These images gave me a surge of love so strong that my tension about
Jason and money faded. “Kick again, Little Boy,” I whispered when I felt him wiggle
around inside me, feeling proud when he did. “I’m going to take good care of you,” I
told him. “You won’t have to worry about a thing.”
About Kristen RademacherKristen Rademacher has lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina since 2002, which is when she began writing. FROM THE LAKE HOUSE is her first memoir. With a Master’s Degree in Education and a Professional Coaching Certification, Kristen is an Academic Coach and ADHD Specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also leads trainings and presentations at national conferences on the topic of academic coaching.