My Secret by Teresa Toten
Teresa’s novel, Shattered Glass, is part of the forthcoming Secrets series.
From the age of 10 to 16 I woke up every single night in the middle of the night, to check and see if my mother was still breathing.
There are two threads that pushed this compulsion. The first was when a friend pointed out that if something happened to my mother, I would be an orphan.
You see my father died when I was a baby and since Mama and I were immigrants, unlike Anne of Green Gables, I had no family whatsoever to get shipped off to. “Therefore,” my friend gleefully explained, “You would have to go straight to an orphanage!”
The second push was when I found out about the death of my grandmother. Back in Croatia and during the second world war, my mother was sleeping in a bed with my grandmother. Their village had not only been bombed but two of my mother’s brothers had just been killed. On the night my grandmother turned 48 she died in her sleep. Mama said she just stopped breathing. She also said that her mother died of a broken heart. So, when my mother turned 48, I began my nightly check. I was a rather exuberant and somewhat reckless kid. There were plenty of times that I worried that I had “broken” her heart and that she too would stop breathing.
Between worrying that I had just “broken my mother’s heart to death” and worrying about being shipped off to a Canadian orphanage, I kept up a very strict vigil of breath checking until I was about 16 years old. I have no idea why I stopped then. I do know that despite my potentially heart-breaking escapades, my magnificent mama lived to the ripe old age of 92!
Teresa Toten is the author of the acclaimed Blondes series, as well as
The Onlyhouse and
The Taming (with Eric Walters). Teresa has been nominated three times for the Governor General’s Literary Award and won it in 2013 for
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13b, which also won the Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award, the CBC Bookie Award, was the CLA Honour Book for 2013 and was nominated for the 2014 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. For more information, visit www.teresatoten.com.