Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Bond Villain, a New Heart, and a Birthday Card

Kings College Hospital

Late last year, the love of my life almost died. It was a strange course of events that came out of the blue, kept us in a foreign hospital for twenty days, and introduced us to an amazing surgeon who looked a bit like a Bond villain but gave him a new heart.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, can put things in perspective like loss, or the realization of the potential for it. Don't get me wrong. I'm thankful for it.

The Bond Villain Surgeon
I thought that with a new perspective a zest or surge of creativity might come. That my love of writing would transcend into this balls-out mission to do it because life is short, and life is precious.

That. Didn't. Happen.

Which left me to consider: maybe I don't really want it. When I lined up all the things that are really important in my life, was writing still there? For months I wasn't sure. I didn't write a word (outside of work stuff and a sad attempt at revisions) for five months. That's almost half a year. That's the longest I've gone without personal or creative writing in my life.

I fell off the critique partner wagon. I couldn't read my friend's stuff with a critical eye when so much of what I knew or what I thought I knew seemed to be in flux. Writing is hard work. It takes dedication, time, and you must love it.

I didn't think I even missed it.

I was ready to acknowledge that writing didn't make it to the line up. That I must not really have wanted it. How could I if on the other side of crisis, the drive was no longer there? I was almost ready to write my critique group and tell them I was out.


But every day as I open my fridge, my hand brushes past a very important birthday card. Probably the greatest birthday card I've ever gotten.

It was a shock, in more ways than one, to even receive the card. Because we'd been gone for so long, the card had gotten lumped in with all the holiday cards and I didn't open them for a while. When I did, I soon realized it was a very unexpected birthday card and inside it said:

I want to see that goddamn 
book on the shelves!
And the other goddamn book!
And the other goddamn book!

I say unexpected, not for the message, but for the sender. Though in retrospect, I shouldn't have been surprised, it was so him. My friend, and literally one of the first two people I trusted to read something of mine, had passed away in June. 

Of course it made me cry when I got it, because it made me miss him. But more importantly it has served as a constant reminder of the amazing and wonderful spirit he brought to this world, and that knowing him is a gift that will last forever. So every time I look at it, I think of him and smile.

The day I was ready to say goodbye to writing the card practically jumped out at me. Okay, it actually did. I knocked it off the fridge as I opened it. When I picked it up it was like he'd reached out to say, "what the hell, lady?" 

Like flashes in a movie montage, I remembered how much joy writing brought me, and how much I loved sharing stories with people. And how having him read them gave me the courage to make it more than a closeted hobby.

That day I wrote 2,500 words.

It's been a long journey from December 9th to now. Filled with all kinds of turns and doubts and love. It took me a while and I needed the help of a very good friend, but writing has once again joined the line up of most important things in my life. I couldn't be more grateful for my life, my husband, and the people who love and encourage me (especially the ones that are not here but never leave). I can only hope to do as much for them.