By Judith Speizer Crandell

Crying myself awake year after year, it’s the fear of never talking to my suffocating mother again that grabs me out of sleep over and over tangled in love-worn sheets and sooty plaid blankets, strangled by opposing stabs, “Don’t you need to lose 27 pounds?” “Why aren’t you dating a Jewish boy?” “Call me at 5 PM tomorrow, 2:34 PM Saturday, 7:59 AM Sunday”  

“I love you.”

She plays the piano over and over as I sing from my teenage repertoire, “The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow,” “Over the Rainbow,” “Somewhere,” “If Ever I Would Leave You.”  

One morning, I scramble around the dusty floor using my left claw as a miniature crane like in the Plexiglas cube where I never could snatch a button-eyed stuffed panda, a toothy rubber crocodile and she called it a waste of her money my desperate search for comfort toys, hunting for my zipper-blown sweatshirt and bead-dangling moccasins. I come up empty, find myself unable to discern the difference, awake-asleep awake-asleep awake-asleep. 

My mother’s death is nightmare-transfused reality.  Her open mouth emptied of sound.  My ears blinded by psychedelic sirens.  High alert. Over. I roll over. Now. I can go back to sleep. 


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An award-winning writer, Judith Speizer Crandell received residencies at the Rockvale’s Writers’ Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Yaddo, A Room of One’s Own and was chosen for the 2014 Tucson Festival of Books. Writers’ conferences she attended include San Miguel Allende, the Joiner Center, Mendocino and Byrdcliffe. The Maryland State Arts Council granted her their Individual Artist Fellowship for her novel, The Resurrection of Hundreds Feldman. Delaware chose her to attend the Delaware Division of the Arts and Arts Council 2018 Seashore Writers Retreat. The Woman Puzzle, received the Delaware Women’s Press Association 2020 first prize novel category.

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