I Woke Up Wanting to Write Again

I woke up wanting to write again. It has been a long time, and I dearly missed my old friend, that part of me that on earlier occasions had multiple pieces all whirling around my head at the same time, taking shape with each spin.  As themes and descriptions and story lines brightened with each mind lap, the hardest part was choosing what not to write. Some pieces would just have to swirl a little longer.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took a matter of weeks and the ideas slowed and I felt tired. I jotted several things down, but didn’t publish. Then I just stopped writing. I even stopped looking at my blog’s Stats page where I follow how many readers look at my site, and from which country they hail. I didn’t have interest in knowing which themes my readers preferred. Yes, I still had a few ideas swirling, but they weren’t taking form.

This lapse, something like a little death, came after a dear friend of mine passed. She had been ill for years, but referred to her illness as “an inconvenience” and stated numerous times, “I don’t do ‘sick’ well.” We saw a lot of each other, including spending a good deal of time in the car driving to and from the hospital. We hung out in clinic rooms together when she received treatments. We laughed a lot, and once in a while grew testy at each other, as good friends sometimes do. We shared stories of our families, our kids, and her grandbabies. How she adored her grandchildren.  After settling into a treatment room, and after a tech had taken vitals and a nurse had visited, my friend would pull out her iPad and we’d watch a new entertaining video of her grandkids. Boy did this make her smile!

At treatments, she and I caught up on TV shows about fashion, and usually we provided our own commentary, verbally ripping apart the garments on the runway and laughing a lot. One time we elected to stay in the clinic an extra ten minutes, after a grueling seven hour treatment day, just so we could see exactly which “whadding dress” (we used to emulate Martin Short’s character, Franck Eggelhoffer, in “Father of the Bride”) the bride-to-be finally chose. We talked about new recipes we cooked up or wanted to try. She brought me up to speed on who is working where and who just moved and who is doing what; it is no surprise that she had more, true, good friends than anyone I have ever known.

We enjoyed the tastiest chocolate chip cookies the hospital bistro served, and in true form, my dainty petite friend savored hers I while I wolfed down mine. We listened to Bill Cosby CDs in the car, and “Noah” and “Ice Cream” and “The Buck Buck Championship of the World” really had us roaring. The nurses and staff looked forward to her appointments and her smile and banter and quick wit. I knew she was well liked; the nurses even hugged me for bringing her.

Recently she had expressed sadness that she couldn’t see some long-time high school friends who were getting together; she had to receive a transfusion that day. She was annoyed. Yet she still acknowledged that while plans for that day weren’t going to gel, she did appreciate that we had become closer friends as a result of all our time in the car and treatment rooms. That was a gift.

And now she has passed and so I grieve. Some days are better than others. That’s normal. Death is a part of life, and what a life! Even on my toughest days I can still smile when I picture my friend laughing, or playing with her grandkids. Her petite frame and giant spirit celebrated life to the fullest. It has been several weeks now since she has passed, and of course, life goes on, although I admit I haven’t felt like participating fully.

But today I woke up wanting to write again. And in so doing, I welcome back a piece of myself that I have sorely missed and truly hoped I would find again soon. In finding this spark, this impulse that I had lost, with the beginnings of a few potential topics starting to swirl in my mind, I hope to bring to my writing the energy, creativity and zest for life my friend brought to her life. I hope to connect with my readers in the way she connected with those in her large circle of family and friends who held her dear. I dedicate this piece to her memory, her spirit, and am grateful for this renewal and connection with my readers again.

Kathy Galgano

February 15, 2014

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HAVE YOURSELF A MESSY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

It’s Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas!

If you’re not feeling it, however, I understand. The holidays are rough.

Painful rifts mean family members aren’t talking. Traveling is miserable. Christmas carols are ridiculously cheerful. People can’t find work. Parts of the country are slammed with storms. Christmas just isn’t the same without family and friends who have passed. A mid-week Christmas means lots of people can’t travel home. Actively deployed service members are in harm’s way. Firefighters and police officers respond to fires and domestic disputes. Loved ones are sick, and hospitalized. If today or tomorrow is your day to receive chemo treatment, then you go to the clinic. Chronic pain sufferers wake up feeling lousy, as usual. Homeless people wake up homeless. People suffering from mental illness don’t get a reprieve. Christmas is messy.

Well, life is messy for 364 days of the year. It’s just not supposed to be messy on Christmas, right? We’ve bought into this myth big time; it’s what the ads show, and the Christmas movies, the cards, and the Christmas carols. But here’s the real news: Christmas day is messy, too. The tradition started off that way; Mary was an unwed, pregnant teen. She could have been stoned for this. Joseph married her, probably enduring ridicule. They traveled to Bethlehem. Now, all you moms out there, surely you remember what doing anything is like in your eighth and ninth month of pregnancy? It’s miserable. Whether or not the couple settled in a stable, or in somebody’s house, the point remains that they had to find somewhere to stay, and Mary gave birth away from home. It’s the Christmas story, and we are celebrating Christmas. And it’s messy.

The weather is crummy in some parts of the country, but nice in others. It’s summer south of the equator. Not all traveling compatriots make you want to scream; some people trade seats on the plane so you and your kids can sit together. The hospital and clinic staffs are cheerful. Transportation crews are working extended hours in lousy conditions, plowing, and re-wiring power lines. You don’t have to listen to chipper carols if you don’t want to, there’s plenty of Christmas music performed in the Blues style. Or you can choose to listen to Christmas music from another culture. Family members can pick up the phone, or email, Skype, or write a note, or light a candle in memory of a loved one, or just think about someone.

It’s Christmas. Mary nursed her baby, and she and Joseph provided the best home they could for their infant. They relied on strangers for help. They persevered, were resourceful, and probably found some humor in the situation. While “tenacity” may not be the word you hear in carols, it’s the real deal. Messy, but real.

Sending you my very best on this Messy Christmas, everybody.

Kathy Galgano

December 24, 2013