about

I was born into a family that had lost a child, so it’s perhaps not surprising that family was always at the center of my dreams. I wanted to build a big family of my own, and spend my life caring for it.

I met my first husband in high school, married him five years out of college, and had three children--Sam, Ivy and Will.  But when the children were just 8, 5, and 2, I made the excruciating decision to divorce. Heartbroken, I began to write then, to keep myself company in a lonely and scary time, and to try to make sense of the rupture to our family, and the loss of my dreams. I was glad to find a weekly women’s writing workshop, where I began to find my voice. 

 

I was lucky to fall in love and marry a few years later, but this was not without its complications. Tom is a wonder, but he is also twenty years my senior.  He added to our family with a beautiful son named Maurice, and we were also thrilled when I got pregnant after being told it was too late. But giving birth to Ben when I was 42 and Tom was 62 was not exactly normal. 

photo by Charisse Photography

Tom and I have been married 15 years now, and the children are nearly grown. Sam and Maurice are 27, Ivy is 24, Will is 21, and "baby" Ben is 14, and they are a big group of siblings who love one another.  But hard things have also happened.  My parents declined and died, as parents do. One of our kids became quite ill for several years. My first husband’s slide into alcoholism was very painful for the kids, but nothing like the blow that came when he had a heart attack and died on a terrifying night four years ago. But there have been many blessings too, many joys, many gifts. Tom has designed some of the world's most beautiful urban parks. The kids are having adventures and emerging into thoughtful, compassionate young adults. I’ve written hundreds of stories.  

I meant to "become a writer" sooner.  I was busy, for sure, running the family, but really, fear kept my work in the drawer.  I never wanted to suggest that my family's story was “special.” What I feel is actually the opposite; if anything is important about these stories it’s how common they are. My hope is that while this work is situationally about me and my family, it is emblematic of the struggles many of us share. I believe that sharing our stories heals us, connects us and makes us stronger.

 

I am very grateful to have had many wonderful teachers in my life.  I attended Plumfield School, Greens Farm Academy, Yale College (BA), The New York Botanical Garden, Drew Lamm's TLT workshop, and Fairfield University (MFA).   I have managed an advertising agency and a residential landscape design practice. 

 

My family and I live on a salt marsh in Rowayton, Connecticut, not far from where I was born.

© 2020 Sarah Balsley 

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