This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
INTRODUCTION I began compiling this book in October 2014, in the first weeks after the sudden death of


my daughter, Mackenzie. It started as an attempt to preserve her writing: newspaper columns from high school and college, essays, reviews, fiction, poetry and political pieces. By Mack’s twentieth year, writing was a central part of her life, and it had become a connection point between us. My last conversation with her, an email exchange three days before she died, had been about her latest piece of fiction and her plans for it. In those first hellishweeks after we lost her, as her mother Stacy and her sister Savannah and I struggled with our shock and heartbreak, I found some relief in searching out her written words. The idea, initially, was simply to collect her writing so that family and friends could read


it. I would get up early most mornings, often before dawn, to sit at the long dining room table that Mack helped me assemble last summer, pour a cup of coffee, open her laptop computer, and gather up her words. The words were scattered in various places: her class papers, the Truman State University media websites, the texts and emails she sent us, and in the computer itself, which we had retrieved from her room in Spain. I found much more writing than we’d known was out there. Pulling it all together was a complicated task that required some focus, a welcome distraction from the grief. The words were a comfort to read. Her voice—passionate, smart, sardonic, young—suffused it all. Reading it, I could almost hear her saying the words. Most people understand that there’s nothing worse than losing a child, but until you’re


there, it’s impossible to describe how difficult it is even to function. One of the things you look for is a reason to get out of bed. This project became that for me. It came to feel like I was spending my mornings with Mack. Stacy had her blog, Savannah had her travels, I had this. As I organized her writing, I added a few photos to the words, just to visually break up


the copy. Then I added more of them. There were so many photos of her available—thousands of old prints that Stacy kept in boxes in our bedroom closet, thousands more digital images in our computers, cell phones and social media. The pictures, like the writing, provided a connection to Mackenzie that I badly needed. I liked the stories that the pictures told, alongside the words. Soon, the writing collection was doubling as a scrapbook. A collection of writing needs context—who was the writer, what were the circumstances behind her writing?—so I tried to provide that. It started as a few short notes about her writing,


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