Sunday, November 22, 2009


“And instead of saying all of your goodbyes - let them know

You realize that life goes fast

It's hard to make the good things last”

Coyne, Wayne; Drozd, Steven; Fridman, Dave; Ivins, Michael, Song, “Do You Realize?” The Flaming Lips

I hadn’t read many blogs before beginning my own, so I really didn’t know much about what kinds of blogs there were. After I started one, I looked for others that were like mine – either about writing or teaching. I found a lot not worth reading, but a few stood out. Most of the ones that appealed to me were related to writing advice or resources for writers. And I noted that many would cite other blogs, along with links, making it easy to hop from blog to blog with related content.

One post on a particular blog* discussed whether or not to be concerned about offending your readers. This author cited The Bloggess as an example of someone who doesn’t worry about offending her readers (She actually has a category, “Posts that will get me hate mail”). My interest piqued, I decided to take a look at her blog, and found her to be lewd at times and (to sound like a movie reviewer) uproariously funny. I liked her blog enough that I added it to my list of favorite sites and blogs on the right top of this page. While some bloggers mention other sites, blogs, or products to hope for mutual promotion or a kickback, I do it because I believe they’re good finds.

So, I read her recent entries and perused some archives. Then on Friday, a new piece came up, which was unlike most of her posts. A person who began as a follower, and became a friend of The Bloggess just suffered a massive stroke. I read this woman's plight, with that familiar pang of sadness that one gets when reading a sad story. There was a request to donate, either by clicking on a particular advertisement on the Bloggess’s margin or to donate directly. I thought about donating, and then moved on.

But I didn’t move on - the story stayed with me, so Saturday I decided to read the stroke victim’s blog. She had two blogs: an old one from when her young child battled cancer and a more recent one. This also wasn’t this woman’s first stroke – the initial one was a few years ago, when her youngest was a baby. She has three kids, and she’s only thirty-five. Her last entry was on Monday, the 16th – one day before her stroke, when she was getting ready for a trip she now wouldn’t be taking. But the last entry on the blog was from her husband, with a link to the old blog about their child’s cancer. I read the entries about her status from her spouse since she had her stroke. I don’t know why, but I also read a few sample posts from both of her blogs. Then I literally felt sick to my stomach, and I don’t throw the word literally around unless I mean it.

Learning about her life and feeling for her lot is like the feeling one gets when a celebrity is stricken. You don’t really know them, but because they share a part of themselves with you, you feel something for them. It’s like finding out Ted Kennedy had a brain tumor or that Michael Jackson died – I obviously wasn’t a friend of theirs, but hearing bad news about them left me feeling the tiniest bit melancholy.

Age thirty-five with three kids, one of them a cancer survivor, and who has now had a massive stroke at age thirty-five. Why does one person have so much hardship to bear? How can one family cope? There’s no God that could cause this or stop this. It could’ve been genetics or something she was inadvertently exposed to. Nothing she said or did, made her deserve this. Her family isn’t suffering because God doesn’t give people more than they can handle, because if that were true, there’d be no suicide. It’s not my intention to figure out why bad things happen to good people, or good things happen to bad people. Nobody deserves this (Well… maybe, Hitler). It’s just bad news about someone who I don’t really know who already seems to have endured a lot.

Her husband wrote about there being a possibility that his wife was going to die, so he brought the children to the hospital. He knew it was scary for them, but wanted a chance for them to say goodbye if need be, or hoped that his wife hearing them would give her incentive to fight. It reminded me of the long, lonely hours my sister and I spent visiting my mother when she was in a coma. During that terrible time, our world stood still. I was fourteen. My sister was eight. Since living through that, every time I say goodbye to those I love, I fear I’m saying a last farewell.

This woman’s husband also thanked those who had offered help. He had taken some people up on their offers, but others he asked to wait, acknowledging that he’d need assistance over the weeks and months ahead. That also brought me back to that dark time for my family. At first, the offers of help poured in, but quickly petered out. When my mother awoke and began to seem closer her old self, relatives didn’t see her as often or offer help anymore. I spent much of the summer watching my sister, and then my dad had to hire someone to care for her after school when fall began. My mother was gone for four months while she went from being unconscious, to having rehabilitation to work on speaking and walking properly again. Probably not unlike this stroke victim had to do the first time, and may have to endure again.

This ordeal also reminded me of my friend, who had suffered thyroid cancer in her early thirties before I met her. She has talked about the enormous support she received from friends and parents at her children’s’ school. The many months she spent fighting were eased somewhat because of their help. One of her children has neurological issues that I’m sure compounded the stress of being sick. The consequences of cancer have left her with a compromised immune system and a voice that easily strains, so this former singer can no longer sing. Yet, she has a positive attitude, takes on many tasks, and works hard to help her daughter. We began as manuscript exchange partners, but she quickly became a good friend. I admire her as a cancer survivor, writer, friend, mother, and an active member on behalf of children with special needs.

Knowing some of what my friend fought and my own experience with a mother who survived a head trauma, made this stroke victim's story hit close to home. A family is a fragile entity. I invite you to learn more about this woman, who has found humor in the most trying times, and had the courage to share her story. By doing so, she impacted many. I hope she gets the opportunity to continue to do so.



  1. When I had my store I had a customer who had breast cancer. She would come into my store with her three little girls. She always was so positive and courageous. I always think about her.

  2. It's sad to see someone who has children go through something like that.