Tuesday, March 25, 2008

CALL MY BOYFRIEND


Romantic July, originally uploaded by Meloses (Ladida).

During my twelve days in the hospital, I outlasted five roommates. The last one had attempted suicide in a particularly violent manner, and ended up with abdominal surgery.

Through the curtains, I heard the doctors say it was a miracle she'd missed any major organs. It was a miracle she was alive.

Through the curtains, I heard her awaken, surprisingly greedy for life. She wanted a turkey sandwich. She wanted the 18 karat gold chain that had been taken from her neck in the ER. She wanted the clothes that had been cut from her body. Maybe they could be repaired.

But most of all she wanted her boyfriend. It was a fairly complicated process, but the nurse dialed the long distance number she provided. No answer. They tried the woman's sister, her "best friend," but there were no answers at those numbers either.

The woman slept fitfully, guarded by a paid suicide watch, but she opened her eyes every hour, always with the same words: Call my boyfriend. Please! I need someone to call my boyfriend.

The paid watcher was a young nursing student who busied herself with homework. The only time she spoke to the woman in the bed was to report that there had been no answer. Again. Not from her boyfriend, or her sister either. The friend had apparently taken the phone off the hook.

Had anyone called the hospital to see if she was all right? the patient wanted to know.

No one, the nursing student said and went back to her homework, looking slightly troubled. When her shift was over, she was replaced by a middle-aged woman who liked to watch cartoons--at a loud voiume.

Call my boyfriend, the patient said to her middle-aged watcher--as if it was a new request.

By the time the fourth shift arrived (another college student) I knew that the the boyfriend would never take her calls. Nor would her sister. I also knew she would keep trying.

When the nurses came in, the watcher told them that he wouldn't take these shifts again. They were too boring.

Slowly the patient and I began to talk. She told a story about children born and vaguely "lost"--like a misplaced passport or a wallet. About a life that began in a distant country and had wended its way through many exotic locales, leaving little but chaos and loss in its wake. About the boyfriend who drank too much and couldn't work because he was haunted by the ghost of his dead mother.

Her suicide attempt was "a stupid mistake," she said. But it was "over" now. Besides, she needed to get home. If she didn't get to work on Monday, she might lose her job.

The watcher, who was being paid to care about her life continued to underline his text book in yellow marker. I wondered if he was listening, and what he thought about this turbulent life so different from his own. I wondered what I thought. It was a story I couldn't completely understand, and certainly could not judge.

How had she ended up so alone? Why didn't one person care if she was alive or dead? But one thing I understood was her desperate need for connection.

Do you have a cell phone? she asked me. Because you know, I really need to call my boyfriend.

I knew that once I gave her the phone, she'd use it incessantly. And of course, I also knew her quest was futile, but I tossed her the phone anyway. As she clutched it to her ear, I felt the endless ringing in my brain, in the pit of my stomach, in my heart.

No, her boyfriend said to her. No, her family.

She left at the same time I did. Left in an oversized sweat suit that had been given to her by the hospital and a pair of padded socks on her feet. Left in a cab she couldn't pay for that would take her to the place where the phone had continued to ring in emptiness. Despite her violent effort to hurt herself, she seemed remarkably resilient--both to the psychiatrist who released her back to her old life and to me.

People have told me I've been courageous in dealing with my ordeal, but I haven't been. Not particularly. All of you would do the same. You would hear the most challenging news, as some of my roommates did, and then an hour later, you would be on the phone finding a way to explain it to your family and to yourself, looking for the bliss. You WOULD.

But I wonder if I would have the kind of courage my abandoned roommate had. I wondered if I would comb my hair, and put on my make-up, wanting to be attractive even in the sweatsuit that didn't fit, in an impervious world. I wonder if I would have waved as cheerily as she did when she left.

Good luck to ya, I told her. It was what my grandfather used to say in place of goodbye; and he always managed to imbue the words with such deep sincerity it makes me cry to think on it now. I tried to do the same.

You, she said, almost like an accusation. You already have good luck. After two surgeries in a week--the last one tenuous at best-- and twelve days in the hospital, I wasn't feeling particularly fortunate at that moment. My smile was probably pretty weak.

She glanced at Ted before looking back at me pointedly. Your kids come to see you and your boyfriend is here night and day. You think there's better luck in the world than that?



No, I suppose there's not. How could I have forgotten?

70 comments:

Patry Francis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
marja-leena said...

Powerful and disturbing story, Patry, and what a lesson in luck and how relative that is. Glad to learn you are out of the hospital and on the mend, with your loved ones nearby. Good healing to you.

LitPark said...

I remember going home after a suicide attempt, not able to wear the clothes that were cut off, and how humbling it was to see people just doing their regular shit - taking out the trash, bringing home a pizza. No phone messages, but bills, yes, and a paper due at school that I would then have to cram for. It was a wake up call to go from that weird, narcissistic state putting me and my pain at the center of everything and coming home and thinking, oh, hey, I am not at the center, oh, no.

Sky said...

so glad to hear you are home and hope that the coming days find you stronger, busily writing, and learning to eat again!

this story reminds me of my days in social work...days which at times could seem like entangled loops ending at the same place they began. sometimes the likelihood of change is minimal. the persistence and intensity of great neediness often keeps people stuck in a solitary and lonely existence. it is too overwhelming and exhausting for others to handle. :( this story is very sad.

i am glad your "boyfriend" was there for you! tell him we send springtime greetings. x0x

Kristi said...

What a moving story, Patry. I'll be thinking about your roommate for some time to come, I think. The comments above are thought-provoking, as well -- "I am not at the center, oh, no."
"entangled loops ending at the same place they began," "the persistence and intensity of great neediness often keeps people stuck in a solitary and lonely existence."

I'm glad to hear you're home, I wish you a quick and hearty recovery.

I also would like to add that I have your interpretation of your grandfather's words (from your November 2007 post "two ounces of bliss") posted above my desk, because life has been less-than-perfect for me lately (duh) and I need the reminder: "Once you give in to complaining, you're all done." It hasn't stopped me complaining, but at least I'm slowing it down a bit, and reminding myself that I'm pretty well blessed. Thank you.

Patry Francis said...

marja-leena: Yes, the relativitiy of luck! I was thinking that how fortunate she was to be healthy, to be going to work the next day, and wondering why she couldn't see it. Then she reminded me that I, too, am often blind to my own bliss.

litpark: What a revelation--and one we all seem to have on our own. There's no greater burden than being the center of everything! (Every now and then, though, I'm compelled to try it again.) I love your description of the whole oblivious world taking out the trash and buying pizza while you wre in pain...

sky: Like Kristi, I love your insights--and your compassion. I felt some of that unanswerable neediness before and IMHO it's worse than physical pain.

Kristi: You're so right. The commenters went right to the essence here. I'm so excited and honored to hear that my grandfather's words made it to that sacred spot "above the desk." I keep trying to live up to them myself. It's not easy, but the effort definitely helps.

Kerstin said...

Is life really down to perspective? You are making a compelling case for it. Can I say that I love your stories, even though I don't love the place from where you are writing them? You continue to awe me with your ability to see so much, and to articulate it so beautifully, even if the subject isn't so beautiful.

Does it feel wonderful to be back home with your "boyfriend" (I had to chuckle at that)? It is good to know you have returned to your familiar and comforting surroundings :)

Sending you healing thoughts, always. Kerstin xo

Tish Cohen said...

That needy place is a terrible place to be. I've been there with a boyfriend--but it had nothing to do with him at all. I can remember feeling desperate that I couldn't control his thoughts. It was just that ravenous beast inside me with a hunger no one could satisfy but me. Eventually I had to get a life and move forward.

I tend to think people lose that neediness later in life. I wonder if we're stronger or just to busy to bother.

Thrilled to hear you're home. I hope you're finally out of the worry-zone.

xox

Myfanwy Collins said...

ai! What lives there are being led. What lives. And then the watcher saying no, too. Too boring. Jesus.

You are courageous, Patry. And full of grace. You inspire. You do.

Take good care. We're all out here pulling for you and would answer your call at any time.

Ric said...

What a wondrous entry! Some days, when I read your words, and the power they convey, it seems I have so far to go to reach some semblance of what you seem to do effortlessly.

The comments are marvelous. So many touched, memories jarred, worse times remembered.

So happy to hear you are hanging in there, with such grace and, of course, the boyfriend...

Patry Francis said...

Oh Kerstin! You have no idea how divine it is to be home with the guy who still feels as exciting a boyfriend after twenty-five years of marriage, the kids, the dogs, the problems, the plants that went unwatered when I was away (yes, I'm needed!) the unfinished wriiting, my email, the phone that rings too much, food that isn't jello and doesn't come from a cafeteria...Those are just the beginning. Today i even enjoyed paying the bills.

Tish: I think we've all been in that needy place (or most of us or most of us who are female). What a prison! When I woke up from one of the surgeries, I had the St. Francis Peace Prayer in my mind, especially the line, "Grant that I may not so much seek to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love." It felt so empowering and liberating to hold those words in my mind.

Myf: The impervious attitude of the paid watchers felt like the final affront to me. They sat for eight hours with this woman, but never looked at her, never tried to talk to her. Maybe that's the way they are trained--if indeed there is training for such a job. Anyway, thanks for your lovely words, for your encouragement, and especially for saying you would take the call!

leslee said...

Egads. There's nothing like encounters with a life so different from yours - both for you and for her - to put things into perspective. The stuff of novels, right there in your face. If you care to notice, that is. Clearly many prefer not to see. Not that you can blame them.

Patry Francis said...

Ric: We must have x-posted. Something I truly miss about my waitressing job is the stories I brought home every day (I'm sure your wife collected a few, too), the brush of lives both the same and and so very different from my own. Perversely, my frequent hospitalizations have given that back to me--though
there's got to be a better way! Thanks for all your good words and wishes.

Beth said...

Patry, wishing you all the best for your recovery, and thanking you for telling this very human story. It reminded me of my mother's hospitalizations, and how she always tried to connect with her roommates and the staff. Life is lonely enough without making the effort to be human with one another! I don't understand the silent disinterested attendants either, but you never know, you may have given them something to think about.

Melba said...

thinking of you...
let me know if you feel up to hanging out or need anything at all!

XO,
Melba

Patry Francis said...

leslee: I think my walls are too permeable. Ihave to see, which is maybe why I write novels. But as you say, it's understandable why someone wouldn't want to enter such a troubled life, particularly when they have so little power to change it.

Beth: Your comment about life being lonely enough--even when we make the effort to connect--is so true. Honestly, I don't think I would have made it through the dismal days of my hospitalization without the genuine friendship and warmth I felt from the nurses, the housekeepers, the dietary staff, the young residents--and of course, the roommates.

The Curmudgeon said...

"Perversely, my frequent hospitalizations have given that back to me--though there's got to be a better way!"

Gosh, I hope so.

But they've been really good hospital stories.

Keep getting better.

rdl said...

Wow, great post!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Patry, another amazing lesson in life from you - and from your hospital roomate. Yes, she appears pathetic and needy - but, at one time, she DID have a boyfriend and friends who cared (or at least seemed to care). We don't know why they turned away from her, but they did...she never mentioned parents or a sibling, so they may be gone too. She seemed to find some inner strength somewhere to get up, put on an ill-fitting outfit and to face tomorrow and the world. I say prayers for her too... it is a hard place to be - when you are absolutely alone. You are a blessed woman to have to undergo all this illness and have a loving "support" team right there with you. It really makes all the difference. I know that even a brief contact with you had to help this woman, because you radiate only love and strength. It is contagious! My heart goes out to her, sending her love and strength, and my heart goes out to you - rejoicing in the fact that you are home with your family and beginning to take those steps back to the world of health and happiness.

Patry Francis said...

Melba: Thanks so much. I SO look forward to getting together with you and Maggie. SOON. Very soon. xox

curmudgeon: Next time maybe I should get a job in the hospital! Thanks for all your continued support. It's good to hear from someone who's been there.

Anon: My roommate had a fortitude I'm not sure I could have mustered in her situation. One thing I admired was the way she never gave up calling--even when it was clear to everyone that her boyfriend wasn't going to answer. Still, she demanded to be seen and heard. My final image was of her remarkable resilience in spite of everything. Thanks for all your kind thoughts for me and my family. They help!

Heidi the Hick said...

I don't know what to say, but need to say something...

None of us know what this lady's life is like, who's hurt her, who's been hurt by her, what led her to that desperate point. I hope she keeps digging up that resilience to go on.

I have to keep digging up that resilience over and over again.

It's what we do, isn't it?

This is a touching and disturbing story, and I thank you for telling it with such sensitivity.

Patry Francis said...

Heidi: You are so right. There's a temptation to condemn the people who weren't there. Or to blame her for leading a life that left her so alone. But then I would only blame and condemn myself. There's so much about any life that is a mystery.

And yes, drawing on our inner resilience over and over again is what we do.

tinker said...

"I heard the doctors say it was a miracle she'd missed any major organs. It was a miracle she was alive." - I may read too much into coincidences, but miracles always make me wonder if there might be some Divine intervention at work - bringing about circumstances so that the two of you might meet one another...Perhaps so that you could learn her story, and by your showing her kindness and what true connection with others can be, perhaps she will someday find grace, and bestow kindness on someone else who needs it? There's no way of ever knowing for certain, but such a miracle in a life story makes me wonder - and sparks a little extra hope for a greater plan at work in this wild world...I wish her good luck, as well - and a cup of bliss. It sounds as though she could use some...

I'm so glad you're home now with your own loving 'boyfriend' and family, Patry. Wishing you much bliss and good health~XOXO

Alethea said...

First, glad you're back again! Thanks you for keeping the world aware; far away, people who would otherwise have been strangers are now a little part of your life.

In your earlier post, you said something that reminds me of litpark's comments: "I marveled at the healthy people I saw, and all the incredible things they could do without a second thought."

Until our own lives are in danger, we rarely take the time to remember that in some way, we do *choose* to assume a "normal" life. You can appreciate breathing, or you can take it for granted. You can appreciate paying the bills, or you can resent the gesture and the time taken away from other activities. You can feel like you matter, or you can put your life into any number of perspectives, not all of them useful.

As other commenters have said, do not discount the possible aid that your presence and conversation may have given your former roommate. I can not find English translations of the books by Boris Cyrulnik, except one that didn't please everyone on amazon.com. One underlying current of his research into trauma and recovery is that connection to the people around you enables someone to become your "tutor" (as in plants) - a moral support upon which you can pull yourself up and face the sun again. He points out rightly that for children, it is often but not always the parents, and can equally be an understanding teacher at the right time, a friendly janitor, the guy who runs the convenience store, a rabbi.Cyrulnik takes as evidence the stories of horribly abused children who grow up to be highly successful and willing to talk about *how* - whereas other children under the same circumstances are incapacitated for life. Anyhow, you may well have been a tutor for your former roommate without knowing it.

Fiona Robyn said...

This brought tears to my eyes - for your roommate, and for the chaotic hopeless part of all of us... thanks Patry.

Sarah J Clark said...

Patry, not only do you have your kids and dear loved ones in your life, but complete strangers who admire you from afar. Never forget that!

RobinSlick said...

Can I just say how glad I am that you are home with your family and how your posts are moving me to tears? The writing itself and the deep emotions you stir in me...I'm sitting here now, almost unable to breathe.

Because I am a "heathen", this was the first time I'd ever read the St. Francis Peace Prayer and it hit home hard. I'm printing it out now, and taping it to the computer where I can read it daily and remind myself what is really important in life.

James Goodman-Horror Writer said...

what a haunting story, Patry. I wonder if she will ever find someone to fill the void in her life.

andrea said...

Powerful story...
a.

Mother of Invention said...

Yes, we all have to revisit our concept of luck and see how blessed we really are. Gratitude Attitude. Every morning and night.
Glad you are doing well.

easywriter said...

The stories you tell us of the people that cross your path and touch you, even if only for a brief time, are powerful reminders of both the bitter and sweet of life.

I wish you joy, health, contentment and a brilliant future filled with writing.

Lorna said...

I wish that I could be as present in my life as you are in yours. I fear I would have tried to fix that young woman's life, at worst, and been oblivious to the courage she had, at best. I would have lent her my phone too, except she'd have had to go outside to use it---or hang out the window, which she might hve been able to manage with her "watchers".

Lovely to hear the lightness with which you talk about being home.

robin andrea said...

You remind me of a poem that an ex-Jesuit priest friend wrote many years ago called "no one stopped by to see..." Another hospital patient in a lonely bed with no loving boyfriend. How many times are scenes like this repeated in every hospital, every city and state? Your description here is painfully powerful, as it should be. I'm so glad you are home where your plants need you, and where your loving Ted needs you to be. I hope you are fully on the mend, and that the renewal of spring is your season of good health.

Coll said...

It seems there will always be those that seem so lost in this world. Bless you for being present for her during the time that you shared.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Welcome home, Patry! So much happens so fast - I didn't realize you'd gone back in, dear friend. Warm hugs for fast healing and super health. Fantastic posts this past month - thank you!

Amber said...

Wow. Wow wow wow... sad.

It sounds so much like the people I grew up around. My own mom. Sometimes I listen to her stories, and wonder how she has managed to live this long. Many of the people around us have not. My sister...old family friends... It really is amazing how differently each of us experience this life. But I can say, comming from where I do, that most of it is choice. Even a sad and complicated early life, in the end, how one lives it out is a choice.
Or how one ends it. The sad thing is when people think all they CAN control, is how it ends.

Good thoughts to you.

:)

Larramie said...

Luck isn't what your roommate needs OR what you already have, Patry. It's that other "L" word: Love.

Welcome home.

The Life of Mel said...

I've never commented before but have been reading your journal since Neil Gaiman linked to it.
I have to say it's a wonderful thing to read, every time.
I wanted you to know how much you inspire us, and that you are in our thoughts and prayers, even when we're not reading here.

kyra said...

what a sad story so beautifully told. i will think of her now, this woman in someone else's sweats, think of her phone calls that go unanswered, think of her alone in the world. i'm glad for her that she had you as a roommate. maybe she took some of that luck, some of that lovely connection among you and your sweet family home with her. maybe it will seep in.

twoblueday said...

A suicide attempt could be taken, by the boyfriend, or anyone else close to the one trying to check out, as an extremely rude "goodbye to you forever your feelings don't count you don't count" sort of thing. Without, of course, the actual good-bye being voiced.

It could also engender the thought: if your life doesn't count to you, then I cannot let it count to me.

I wonder if I would speak to her either.

As to luck, rarely does a day go by that I don't tell my Honey/Sweetie/True Companion that I'm the luckiest guy in the world. And I mean it.

saraarts said...

Gosh, Patry, this is some of your strongest writing ever. Fantastically told.

Twelve days in the hospital and two operations? Uggggggggggghhhhhhhhh. You poor thing. Just the thought of all that hospital food -- and probably some special diet to boot -- makes me ill at the thought.

It's a moot question whether you would ever be as brave as your roommate in a similarly abandoned situation, because you will never, ever be in a situation like that. You are too full of love to be left alone like that; even if every member of your family and circle of friends were prevented from being at your side, your love would out and you would make new allies and still not be alone.

Patry Francis said...

tinker: At first, she seemed unimpressed by her miracle--almost as if it were an every day thing. But when she left, she expressed so much gratitude to the social worker who arranged some help for her. Obviously, she understood she was getting a second chance. The second miracle will be if she takes it. I pray for that.

alethea: Thanks for such an interesting comment. Cyrulnik's work sounds fascinating; I'll be checking it out. I think we are all tutors for each other--for good or for ill. It's both empowering and a little daunting to think how much our actions and even our consciousness affects others.

fiona: "the chaotic hopeless part of all of us." I love that phrase. It's there, isn't it? Even when we try to disown it, or disown people who remind us of it.

sarah: My on-line community has been an amazing source of strength. I'm so glad that you are part of it.

robin: I'm so happy you found the Peace Prayer. It never gets old for me. Every time I read it or recite it in my mind, I'm lifted up, reminded, changed. Still hoping to see you this summer!

James: I've been emailing three of my roommates from various stays in the hospital, but in this case, I will never know how her story turns out.

andrea: Thank you!

mother of invention: I agree! Every morning and night.

easywriter: Every time I've been in the hospital, I've hoped for a private room--but it's been my roommates who have lifted me out of myself, and reminded me, as litpark said, that I am not the center of the world and my pain is not at all unique. Thanks for reading and for all your encouraging words.

lorna: I think you would have lent her your phone, and made her laugh; and if you tried to fix her life, you would have taught her something.

robin: If there is something good about being in the hospital for a long time--besides the opportunity to be healed of course, it is the empathy I felt for people in institutions of any kind. So many times I wondered: what if I had to live in this anonymous half room for the rest of my life? Thanks for all your hopeful wishes and for your good friendship.

coll: Sadly true. People have told me that I need to worry less about the strangers around me and concentrate on healing. But for me being present to others is therapeutic.

aaron: Thanks for the good wishes. Your warmth always shines through everything you write.

amber: That you emerged from a chaotic background to build such a strong, beautiful life is an inspiration. I don't know what will happen to my roommate, but I hope her children are as resilient as you are.

Larramie: You are a wise woman and a beautiful soul.

Life of Mel: Neil Gaiman has brought me some amazing readers. I'm so happy you are among them. Hope to hear your voice more often!

kyra: She will haunt me for a long time. Thanks for sharing your insights!

Gerry: Your appreciation for your sweetie and of course, for Babycakes, shines through everything you write. It's wonderful to be blessed by happiness and connection, but even more wonderful to know it and say it and sing it.

Patry Francis said...

Sara! Thanks for such a beautiful, ebullient, empathetic comment. It's a strange thing about the hospital food. I was on a liquid diet for about ten days. When they finally fed me some comfort food type stuff, I thought it was the best meal I ever had. Goes to show what starvation will do...

Carleen Brice said...

Sad that this woman, who is clearly unwell, is so alone in the world. However, God speaks through us all, and even if she never knows it, she had an important message for you and through you all your readers here.

Marilyn said...

What a harrowing experience...to witness her re-entry into what could only be a painful life. Beautifully told, Patry...just as I'm sure it was beautifully witnessed. Sending love and healing vibes. xoxo

Allie said...

Wow. That's so sad and so amazing. I'm always amazed by your perspective on things. How you can take what's hard and turn it into something beautiful.

Patry Francis said...

Carleen: Glad to pass on the story as I saw it. I can't help wondering how she would have written or told mine. Maybe I made her appreciate her good health, just as she made me appreciate my family and friends.

marilyn: I won't easily forget her or the stories she told about her lost children. Thanks for all your good thoughts, and esp. for your friendship.

allie: Thank you! I don't know how I would survive my own hard times, esp. recently, unless I was able to find meaning--and even beauty--in their midst. Isn't it great that we have this option?

floots said...

i've been away and returning to a post from you and - more importantly - the news that you are home again has brightened my day
thank you so much and welcome home :)

steve said...

Patry,

I'm happy to read that you're out of the hospital. If I were in a similar situation, I hope I would, as you write, be looking for the bliss. But I don't know that I would. What has amazed and enlightend me while reading your blog over the past few months is that you have refused to make yourself the center of the world. We see the world through your focus, but the focus is not on you. Instead we see the moving story of this young woman, or the humanity of a difficult person, or your infant grandson easing the tension at an oncologist's office.

Perhaps your next book should be a nonfiction one--a compilation of these moving stories, and others which you have not yet been able to tell.

All the best for you and your boyfriend.

i beati said...

This is just an outstanding post that everyone should read and I needed it today - just came off a bad spell myself -just loved this come and smile at my place hahaah

Lisa said...

Maybe our spiritual evolution tracks through a lens that allows us to "see" our connectedness to things at a further and further distance from ourselves.

I am so glad you are home :)

Fred Garber said...

Patry.... I am happy to hear that you are back home! Thank you for relating this story of you and your roommate. I like this story on so many levels. I would like to hear the same story retold by the girl, The Watchers, hospital staff, the boyfriend,the sister, and by the taxi driver who took her home.

Patry Francis said...

Steve: Since I've been ill, I've realized more clearly than ever what a prison the self is. Looking outward has not only put things in perspective; it's kept me sane. Thanks for your good thoughts and kind words.

ibeati: Glad this story came at the right time for you. Sending good thoughts--

lisa: A profound thought, beautifully expressed. Thanks for sharing it here.

Maryanne Stahl said...

oh Patry this made me cry. that poor woman. the world is filled with others like her, I'm sure. I sometimes live in fear of being one of them--so grateful that I'm not, that I worry my luck can't last.

These blogs are a book in progress. I guess you know that.

blessings to you. xxx

KG said...

First, so glad you're home, Patry. Keep healing. :)

Second, your post left me a bit (just a bit) speechless. And I'm going to stay with this speechlessness for a bit and just think about it. Thank you, as always.

Tara said...

Patry,
I can really identify with your comment to Ric about missing the stories that came out while waitressing. But also the hospital ones. My mom spent a long year at a cancer hospital, and despite the pain and suffering, the stories and characters that came out of the experience were many. And yes, there must be a better way. Now that I'm working on a first draft again, I'm realizing that freelance writing from my bedroom is not the best backdrop for fiction. Your comment reminded me that I ought to go back to writing (and listening) in restaurants sometimes, even if I'm not working in them.
Thank you so much for sharing your stories. They truly inspire.

Liquid said...

Wow........

I hope you are feeling better and I want to thank you for your book!

I devoured it~
!

Much love to you......

Alice said...

What a writer you are, not just in the style you do it but the seeing you do--with the heart, not just the mind. Good luck to ya!

Patry Francis said...

floots: Somehow I missed your comment, which I appreciate. Being home was quite lovely and restorative, though it didn't last long enough!

Fred: That would make a novel--or a poem in the right hands. I'm sure they would all see it differently--even as the commenters have.

maryanne: You are so wise and compassionate. At one time or another, we all feel a little of her sense of abandonment.

kg: Speechless was my initial reaction, too. I had to sit with this woman's story for a couple of days before I could write about it.

tara: Yes, writing from the bedroom, or the home office as I do, has its own challenges. These days my companions at work are dogs and cats. No wonder my dialogue has suffered!

liquid: You're welcome! Thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the novel.

alice: What a wonderful compliment. Much appreciated.

Polly Kahl said...

Great post, Patry. You've been able to get so much out of having her, it sounds to me like your roommate was the perfect one to have at this time. Kepp up the great work, and the great attitude.

Kurt Kuden said...

this is my first visit here. And I could not agree more, your writing really moved me. Now i m trying to finish the whole posts.. wish me luck

I will be here again.. do take care of yourself..

Alex S said...

That post breaks my heart. It really does. It makes me grateful for you and that you are in posession of the only riches that matter, and sad for your old roommate and wishing her the best. No matter what anyone has done everyone deserves a family and friends who care.

colleen said...

Oh, man! An Unforgettable story ... the images and feelings are still reverberating in me. Life is so much stranger than fiction.

paris parfait said...

Oh Patry this story made me cry - for all those who are lost and desperately reaching out for connection. You've told this story in such a direct, frank manner - I think every single person who reads this can't help but be affected - even the missing boyfriend. Sigh. xoxox

Eaton Bennett said...

Bravery and courage can't really be measured or turned on at will. They rise up from inside us at the necessary time. I think you used your courage and bravery well and probably still are.

Gillian said...

Connection. You hit the nail on the head there. People who need people!!! My god, what a story. There are millions more like it. Those of us who read this are likely to count our blessings yet again. For we are all luckier than we think, aren't we?
xo

TaraDharma said...

heartbreaking tale...except for the end. you were so very kind to lend her your phone even though you knew it probably lead nowhere. I commend you for finding such kindess and compassion in the middle of your own "stuff."

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