Isolated on a Maui mountaintop, Cassandra has only her imagination to keep her company. Shut in due to her heart condition and shut out emotionally by her father, she meets the Menehune in a dream. Their "Gift" enables her to take the first step away from her loneliness. Along the way she finds an amazing woman in the grandmother she never knew and experiences true friendship with a new classmate. Eventually she learns that to love another she must open her heart, even if it means it may break.





My Mother and I Took the Train

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Some memories are so sweet that we like to visit them over and over again. To appreciate this memory I find a peaceful place and clear my mind of any worry or anxiety. I deliberately pass by the other memories that call to me, No thank you, I don’t wish to revisit that experience. I firmly choose this one – a special time I shared with my mother, who left this earth almost five years ago. This particular memory overshadows all others of her, and like an oversized piece of furniture in a small room, it’s difficult to ignore. I think I know why. With the distractions of children, job, life and distance, my mother and I rarely spent more than a few moments alone.

My mother hated flying; in fact, she refused to fly at all. In order to get her to visit me I offered to fly to Wisconsin and then travel by train from Chicago to Arizona. The idea of sharing such an adventure with me thrilled my mother. So what normally would have required a 3-hour flight became a 36-hour train trip.

The tiny expensive compartment where we sat knee to knee, a drop down table between us and our beds folded away above us, seemed unnecessarily primitive, but nothing dampened my mother’s enthusiasm.

We played cards, drank the wine we brought along, and discussed everyone and everything. During that entire trip my mother shared no special secrets; there was no dramatic life-changing revelation. All in all a pleasant and uneventful journey. Now when I look at the trip, examining it with the gift of hindsight, I think of it as an wasted opportunity. Why didn’t I ask her about her youth, her first love, and her life’s disappointments? I don’t know why I didn’t.

But I’m wrong about what makes this memory significant. It’s not because I rarely spent time alone with my mother. I can’t help but compare the time in that tiny compartment with my mother’s last days, when she was weak from cancer and too-little-too-late chemo. Her anger and bitterness offer sharp divergences to her smile and enthusiasm on the train.

How much of life is like that? While in the moment we cannot grasp how special it is, and even if we could, we lack the ability to make the most of it. Perhaps this human limitation protects us from overwhelming emotion. As a result, we simply enjoy the moment and only later comprehend the tragedy of opportunity lost. I suppose that’s what makes a memory bittersweet.

In February 2015, Barbara Bras left her career to pursue her dream of serving God.  She believed that her first act would require sharing the amazing way God had blessed her life. 
After years of frustrated attempts to share her story, in March of 2015 she attended a seminar where she wrote of her son's miraculous adoption and the challenging years that followed. As the words spilled onto the pages, it led to the rediscovery of her entire life, including the history of her grandparents' remarkable survival in Armenia and her own search for true love. 
During the months that followed, Barbara realized her life's new purpose. Captured by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Barbara now views her writing as a tribute to God, who comforts and strengthens us in hardships and trials so that we can encourage others. She prays that her first novel, expected to launch in April 2016, will do just that.
Barbara's blessings include four wonderful children, her supportive husband of 34 years and a ten-pound Havenese guard dog. Scottsdale, Arizona is home, but she spends as much time as possible visiting family in Wisconsin.