Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Gratitude for My Writing Sister
A year ago today, I flew down to San Diego to hold onto the hand of one of my closest friends. Ellen lay in bed in the ICU, hooked up to a ventilator, as still as still can be. Under that stillness, a battle raged over her lungs. She will never again say, "As easy as taking a breath."
It's her story, so I'll leave it for her to tell. She's a fabulous writer and storyteller. She has been my writing sister for the past 15 years.
I will say this: She's home now, still fighting, but getting better. There have been setbacks, more hospital stays. But she finished a novel and turned it into her publisher. To keep her spirits up, she ordered a whole new supply of pretty pajamas and matching slippers online. And when yet another setback got too depressing, Cat Stevens crooning through her iPod ear buds reminded her how utterly gorgeous life can be, and what a privilege it is to be able to make art.
She's a prize fighter. She's a prize writer. When the bombs explode, she often pulls her pen from its cap like a sword from its sheath, and she gets the words down. She makes art. (She's shrugging as she reads this. She's saying, "Everyone has their battles. We all do the best we can.")
Except we don't always choose to do our best. I haven't, not always. Sometimes the fetal position is so inviting. But for the last 15 years, Ellen has been a phone call away, helping me to drop-kick the indulgent self-pity out the front door, to let in hope and perseverance. She's that kind of person, that kind of friend.
A year has passed, from one Thanksgiving to another. I know only two prayers really well. Last Thanksgiving I kept praying, Please. This year I'm praying the other one: Thank you.