Remembering a son

Judi Loren Grace

In her second book, Dreamscape in A minor, local author Judi Loren Grace retraces the steps that led to her son’s death, and searches for her own peace and healing. In the fall of 1990, in the midst of contemplating suicide, Grace’s son, Jeff Harris, accidentally shot his grandfather who’d startled him when he stepped into the open garage. Harris then shot and killed himself, and his grandfather died six weeks later of complications from the incident. Harris was 21 years old. After her son’s death, one of Grace’s biggest fears was that Jeff’s memory would fade away with future generations. It’s hard to imagine anyone who reads this powerful and very personal book will ever forget his story. The book is available at Lyon Books, Postal Plus and at Grace’s hair salon, Satori Color & Hair Design. Lyon Books will host a booksigning Thursday, Nov. 21, 7 p.m.

Did writing the book bring about any changes?

It laid out the path of Jeff’s life, which I understood. And I thought I’d already healed, but writing this book really cleaned up many questions, and this is also the last thing I can do for him—unfold and reveal his legacy.

What was the hardest part of the process?

Saying too much and not saying enough, picking out the right stories, delivering them in the right manner. Being respectful of my son and being respectful of my surviving children—not divulging their private thoughts. It’s a fine line I had to walk.

What’s the best thing that came from writing it?

Bringing him back to life. Delving into the spirit world and finding answers. There were times, when typing, I would laugh. He was hysterical. He was the funniest boy. Thoughts would come into my mind and I would smile and type, totally having a party with myself.

What inspired you to write as if you were speaking to Jeff?

In my head, I’m always talking to him: Why did you do this? Remember the time when you did that? So it was natural to address him in conversation. And I thought, “This is how I want to present my story: a mother talking directly to her son.” The weird thing was that I could hear his responses. I felt his presence.

Any advice for other parents?

I see mothers shopping with their kids, frowning, being angry with them. I just want to go, “I had a kid like that once and now he’s dead. Relax, mom, enjoy your children and hug your babies.” Try to get into their humor and who this little person is. Maybe they’re not who you wanted them to be, but it’s how they’re wired.