Co-Hosting “The End of the World”

ShowImagethe end of the world, a freewrite by Pearl Strong (age 9) 

the end of the world the last day for us to gather together. And gather our stuff to move along to our new lives 

we go from our old to new world to world people are leaving slowly all because it’s the last 

day of the world. Every one saying there last  good byes to the people we love in the world. the world is ending.

this will be the last day of our lives


I came home from work today and collapsed. Well, that is not a cool word to use so casually. I didn’t actually collapse; I very deliberately changed out of my work clothes, put on shorts and a t-shirt because wow, it was warm enough for that, and climbed under the covers. Aviva had walked over to my parents’ house after school, and Pearl was riding bikes and playing with the three kids next door.

This wasn’t the kind of rest where I thought, it has been a full day and I think I’ll close my eyes for a few minutes before I switch gears and think about making dinner. This was head-swimming tired, probably a result of many, many weeks of many, many things catching up with me, my body signaling an undeniable “enough” sign in bright neons I was practically beginning to see before my eyes. So maybe it’s more accurate to say that I didn’t collapse. I just crashed, hard.

I slept for two solid hours and when I woke up, Pearl was there and she asked why I’d been crying. I looked at the bottom sheet near my pillow, where I’d been drooling. And then I looked at the clock. I was almost 7:00pm. Oh, shit! Kristi had already gone above and beyond, first by inviting me to co-host “Finish the Sentence Friday” with Nicki, and then be being incredibly thorough and patient as she walked me through what that entailed. I’d finally figured out how to paste the “link-up” code–which you’ll find at the end of this post–so that anyone with a blog can use this prompt for some writing inspiration. But when it dawned on me that I had to write something myself, I felt slightly panicked on top of groggy from such a deep sleep. There was no way I could pull this off.

“It’s not the end of the world,” I said out loud to Pearl and Mani. And then I had an idea… maybe Pearlie could do the freewrite. Much to my delight, when I asked her, she said yes. And then she said, “It might not be good, though.” “That’s ok,” I told her. “It doesn’t have to be good. That’s what I tell the people in my groups.” She looked relieved, then started writing without stopping, per my instructions. Five minutes later, she showed me her poem but told me to read to myself.

By this time, Kristi had reassured me that I had a few more hours before my post had to go live, so I decided it’d be only fair to participate myself, which I did, setting a timer while I waited for our take-out tacos, only to realize that half of what I’d written and meant to save for after bedtime with Pearl had vanished into the ether due to some mystery glitch, forcing me to start over halfway through what remained.

Hardly the end of the world, any of this. In fact, I got to hear Kristi’s voice on the phone for the first time, after reading many of her incredible words on a screen.

And today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. As I sang the sh’ma to Pearl and felt her whole body relax, felt mine relax, too, I looked at her face and saw 1.5 million faces. I looked at her face and saw my one and only Pearl. I kissed her cheek and stroked her hairline.

And then I came here, to finish the lost freewrite, to share her poem with you, and to invite you to remember–and to write.


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, where writers and bloggers gather each week to complete a sentence. This week’s prompt originated with a prompt from one of my March writing groups: The End of the World.

I was so tickled when Kristi Rieger Campbell from Finding Ninee asked me to co-host, and even more so that my co-host is Nicki Gilbert, who writes at Redboots. Kristi and Nicki are both amazing writers I’ve met through my writing groups, and I have steadily, repeatedly fallen in love with their words and hearts.

Your turn! Just click on the little blue frog below to add a link to your post. I can’t wait to read it.

28 thoughts on “Co-Hosting “The End of the World”

  1. Kristi Campbell - findingninee says:

    Wow. Not only did you pull this off but I’m smiling the happy smiles and the proud smiles (Pearl) and the sad sads (which is not a smile and I didn’t realize it is Holocaust Remembrance Day, today). Thank you THANK YOU thank you for participating and please tell that awesome little girl of yours that her writing is magic and tell her “fuck perfect – ever.” (In whatever words are better than the eff one for a nine-year-old) Perfect sucks. REAL is what counts. And she did the real. As did you, even with too many of your words lost while waiting for take-out tacos. I am so so honored that you agreed to host tonight and that I got to read this. I love that you took one of those naps that makes us wonder where we are. I love those.
    Also, some of the best advice ever was from you, and the advice you gave to sweet Pearl tonight: “That’s ok,” I told her. “It doesn’t have to be good. That’s what I tell the people in my groups.”
    I can’t thank you enough for that advice. It’s how I came up with my post tonight. And my thoughts on so many others.


  2. kellylmckenzie says:

    Well this is both delightful and bittersweet. So delightful to meet you. How is it that we’ve not met before? Huh.
    I, too, had no idea it was Holocaust Remembrance Day. I just read Nicki’s piece and now yours and the penny has dropped. And Pearl’s freewrite? Amazingly good. I melted reading that she looked relieved upon hearing your advice and that she asked you to read it to herself. And she’s 9? You’ve got yourself a true gem there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jena Schwartz says:

      Kelly, I am so glad to meet you, too. And yes, Pearl is a true gem. I love her more everyday, and moments like undo me, in the best way. Thank you so much for reading and saying hello.


  3. amycake76 says:

    Oh, good for you for napping even if that mean take-out tacos (which sounds like a plus to me). Sometimes you just gotta go close your eyes for awhile. I think my post sort of came out of the ‘it doesn’t have to be good.’ I was just feelin it. That Pearl sounds like a lovely person, like her name.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jena Schwartz says:

      Just knowing you wrote from a “doesn’t have to be good” place makes me happy. (And I agree, take-out tacos are a plus!) I’ve been closing my eyes a lot the past few days–and the thing is, it always ends up help me open them even more.


  4. Michelle Grewe says:

    The poem is amazing. When I first read it, I thought the poem at the beginning was some sort of published author I should know but didn’t. Then when you said you shared Pearl’s freewrite, I was like, “Where is it?” Then it dawned on me, that beginning poem from an established famous author was Pearl’s freewrite. I really thought it was TS Eliot worthy.


  5. Nicki says:

    The creative spirit you and Mani weave in your home, Jena, with those beautiful, soulful girls of yours. Inspiring. Uplifting.
    I am relieved to hear you slept like you did. I whispered Thank G-d when I read that.
    And then… our pieces seemed to speak to each other, almost in another dimension. Which takes my breath away. Thank you, Jena, for everything.


  6. Linkouture says:

    I had completely missed that it was Yom HaShoah the other day, and interestingly my response to the prompt was a poem I wrote in high school about the Holocaust. Your daughter’s poem is beautiful, and I love how you tied her response to the prompt to the story behind it and your own challenges with getting the post completed. Thank you for sharing, I am stopping by from the Finish the Sentence linkup.


  7. Anna Fitfunner says:

    Thanks for co-hosting today, and sharing all kinds of thoughts about your life, your children, and today’s place in history. I fully admit my (previous) ignorance of what a freewrite was. Sounds fun and a bit intimidating all at once. I tend to be a heavy proofreader, and don’t really like to write under time pressure. So at some point, I’ll need to take it outside of the box and try something new!


  8. em-i-lis says:

    I clicked on the frog but am not sure what to do now! But I’m inspired! :)
    I’m so happy you were able to sleep, and that the people around you let you. That they supported and did and made space for what you needed. How lovely.
    And Brava, Pearl!


  9. Dana says:

    Drooling in your sleep means you slept hard. Sounds like you needed it.

    I was so thrilled to discover you were co-hosting this week, Jena. Thank you for adding your voice, and for writing about Yom HaShoah. Between your post and Nicki’s, I feel like this day has meant more to me this year than it has before. No – it doesn’t mean more; I just felt more. Thank you.


  10. thelatchkeymom says:

    Welcome to the group Jena! I’ve heard so much about you, and now I get to read your beautiful words, You are better than me – I couldn’t get it together in time! And your daughter’s poem is brilliant.


  11. Katia says:

    Thank you for bringing up Yom Ha Shoah. I realized it too late and regretted not writing anything about it. I love how beautifully and organically you tied that in.



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