The Never Expected and Always Unthinkable

If you’ve been following me for a while, odds are good that you know the health crisis we’ve been through over the last year as my husband faced a scary pancreatic cancer diagnosis last spring. The kind of diagnosis you’re not supposed to get at 43.

It was awful. It was traumatic. And until this week, I’d kind of sort of managed to tuck it away in the deep recesses of my mind. Because let’s face it—you can’t think about this kind of thing every day or you’ll actually drive yourself out of your head with worry, the kind of worry that comes with anxious, nervous energy that keeps you up into the wee hours of the morning every night with no one but your miserable self to keep you company.

And then this week someone I know on Twitter (I can’t even call her a ‘friend’—we’ve never had a single personal conversation!), a Pitchwars mentor & writer whose debut book just came out this month, a woman who is living her dream—the same dream I have—just got word that her husband had been hit by a car and was in the ICU at the hospital. I don’t know the details. I know only what she has shared on Twitter.

But her story has hit me so hard this week. So hard. Because it seems like even when things are really good, they can still be really bad. Clarissa recently tweeted about how wonderful the doctors and nurses are, about how they’re making sure that she’s taking care of herself, too. And it brought the memories flooding back.

The day I couldn’t eat because I woke up with such severe anxiety three days after my husband’s surgery that my stomach had cramped into one big knot. The nurse on shift that day didn’t say anything right away, but by 3 p.m., she gave me a knowing expression with worried eyes that I swear could see right into my soul and she asked me, “Have you eaten anything today?” I hadn’t. I couldn’t. So when I finally managed to eat a banana at 7 p.m., I made sure to let her know. Nurses are amazing. They are incredible human beings who give so much more than I ever knew was humanly possible to give to perfect strangers.

And in one tweet, Clarissa sent me right back to those horrible moments after the big surgery, the ones I pushed aside for the last nine months. My heart goes out to Clarissa and her family. I know what she’s going through. I know the fear and the worry and the feeling that nothing will ever be the same—that your entire future is nothing more than one big question mark.

I hope that you’ll join me in supporting Clarissa Goenawan and her husband in the weeks and months of trials they’ll have ahead of them. The medical bills can add up so quickly that it takes your breath away when you stop to think about it. We spent over $10,000 in out-of-pocket medical expenses last year. Without insurance, it would have been well over $300,000. Life can turn on a dime and moments like these are sharp reminders to hold our loved ones tight and appreciate all we have been given.

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 8.19.19 PMMany prayers for Clarissa and Choo and for a quick and complete recovery and a return to normal life.

And if you want to support a debut author in another most appreciated way, pick up a copy of her book, Rainbirds, released March 6th of this year.

 

Will You Go Out With Me? Circle Yes or No

Remember middle school? If you’re like me, you’ve done just about everything in your power to forget as much as humanly possible about those awkward middle school years, but no matter how hard you try, there are still these lingering memories in the foggy corners of your brain of every horrific social interaction you’ve ever had between the ages of 11 and 13.

But nothing was as bad as trying to ask out your longtime crush. Scribbled notes on ripped pieces of notebook paper, folded into these weird triangle football thingies (that no one under thirty understands), were a direct line of communication to the chosen one of your affections. And often times, the message contained a single question:

Will you go out with me?

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I don’t know if today’s middle schoolers are any cooler, as my own kids are only starting to veer into that awkward-aged realm, but I suspect they still ask the same question even if the mode is more likely to be technologically advanced.

And that’s more or less what it feels like to query an agent as a writer. It’s a thrilling ride of ups and downs, but mostly you just feel like you want to throw up. Mood swings rivaling those of a raging hormonal teenager are common, and my husband can attest to the fact that some days I’ve been so depressed that I cry into my dinner. Thirty minutes later, a perfectly timed email request for a partial or full manuscript read has me giddy by bedtime. In just a few weeks, a pass on the full read (even with encouraging feedback) has me racing downward again. On and on we go. (Have I mentioned that I’ve never ridden an actual rollercoaster because I can’t stand the ups and downs?)

Querying is hard, and it’s not for the emotionally frail, but I will say this. I didn’t fully realize just how stubborn I was until now. I didn’t embrace the emotional fortitude I possessed until I faced rejection after rejection. It’s like asking your middle school crush out…again and again and again.

Someday, I hope to remember this ride fondly. Someday I’ll say that this was perhaps the only rollercoaster I’ve ever enjoyed.

Certainly it’s the only one I’ve ever willingly embarked upon.