THE WRITE PLACE…

…to build a community. Share Patti Hall's journey …


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Writer’s Journal; Synopsis and Chapter Titles for Memoir

Here’s the short synopsis and chapter titles that I promised you. Whew! Just in time for tomorrow’s start of Camp NaNoWriMo.

My Virtual Camp NaNoWriMo

My Virtual Camp NaNoWriMo

Draft of short SYNOPSIS for The Patient Patient Advocate

Memoir series, Souvenirs from My Heart, centers on debut author, Patti Hall’s, year long battle for her husband’s life. She chronicles Paul’s brave and humble struggle through Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant, and Graft Vs Host Disease. The first book in the series, The Patient Patient Advocate, bridges the topics of love and loss, from the other two books in the memoir series. This book offers sage advice for those who find themselves in the role of caregiver/advocate for someone they love. It is the story that the author and her husband worked on while he was hospitalized; the story Paul wanted her to finish. From diagnoses to hope to hospice, Hall grabs the reader by the hand and heart. She takes them with her along the couple’s unforgettable journey through the often frustrating healthcare system, with humor and heart wrenching honesty.

Draft of CHAPTER TITLES for The Patient Patient Advocate

*Our Story: Pre-diagnosis to Hospice

*The Bad News First…Hey, Where’s the Good News?

*Hospital Staff; Nothing Uniform About Them

*Patient Care: Body, Mind and Heart

*Camping Out In Hospitals; No S’mores Allowed

*Tools of the Trade; When A Hammer’s Not Enough

*Paperwork Jungle; Before, During and After

*What We Did For Love; A Closet Full of Hats

Okay, everyone, there it is. This is my pet project for the next 30 days in the virtual writing Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). One of my virtual buddies, Marie Bailey is a cabin mate, and our friend, Ellespeth (Liz) is signing up to be in our cabin too. Looks like the other roomies are four teen authors-to-be. Marie will have to be our leader, because she has done this before:>) Don’t tell her I said so. Wink Wink.

Notice that both items above are DRAFTS. That means I’m still open to community input, comments, questions and critiques. Jump in and tell me what you think.

Wish me luck,

Patti


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New! Book Review Page and Reflections For The Memoir

“Widow Stories” by Michelle Latiolais is my first book review; under the new heading at the top of my blog site. On the techy phones, my daughter says that the new pages that I’ve added at the top are in a drop-down called “Menus.” Below is an essay I wrote for the memoir after reading this book and writing the review.

In “Widow Stories” by Michelle Latiolais, I found these words comforting: “She doesn’t want them anywhere near how shattered she is.”  The comfort I feel is from reading words that reflect my own feelings. After my husband’s death I was unable to articulate this feeling in spoken or written words. After the recent death (MUST I SAY THAT WORD; CONNECT IT TO THIS SWEET CHILD?) of my grandson I wrote these similar words in a poem: “Not fit for the nurture of others; their sympathy shatters the broken pieces of my heart…”  On most days, one sympathetic word or gesture sends me into meltdown, which then makes me want to protect my loved ones from how “shattered” I am.

In another story Michelle talks about “…the mythology which the human animal makes sense of pain.”  This speaks volumes about my choosing to believe our lost ones are “up there,” in my recently posted letter to Paul, as well as the ghostly visitors in my poem, “Visions On The Beach.”  It is obvious that, like other writers, Michelle and I are using our writing to help make sense of the pain. No matter how many times I experience it, it always amazes me how my heart swells with the comfort of knowing that someone else feels as I do.

Michelle contends that, “You will be alone now, but never alone again from the company of loss.”  I have to agree, because, even as you begin to heal and join the world, that loss will always be with you. However, when you set the table for guilt, change the sheets and place fresh flowers out for guilt, you also build your house on a foundation in the company of loss. With each death I have carried away a suitcase filled with guilt. I do know that pretty much everyone associated with the death of someone close feels some degree of guilt. I know that. I just don’t know how they “manage” it; how they get up and shower and carry on with their normal life. I haven’t given up trying to send my guilt packing, but it may take some time.

People try to comfort me, and offer variables of  “At least you had that great love.”  I now have Michelle Latiolais’ perfect answer: “One wants what one has loved, not the idea of love.” I know that it is Paul I want, not some idea of the love we shared. “Yes, but I want my Paul,” has become my mantra since his death.  However unreasonable it may be (and I do realize it IS unreasonable), I want the actual person, not the idea. Maybe the most comforting words would be, “I wish I could bring him back to you.” My mom simply says, “I know, honey,” and that usually calms me down.

Michelle Latiolais’ little book of stories has helped me acknowledge and explore some of my own pain from the loss of loved ones.

I would love to hear your thoughts, please leave me a note in “Leave a comment” which is located to the left of the title.


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What Happens In A Bed

Eight days before her 50th birthday they were married in their cozy new pajamas, holding hands on his bed in the hospital. The pastor and witnesses wore protective hospital gowns and gloves; the patient was in isolation once again. A special dispensation from the head doctor allowed the bride to wed without protection. (Pun intended).

The bride’s aunt and the couple’s neighbor came the day before on a ring and pajama-driven mission. On the big day the pastor and his wife brought more pre-owned wedding rings to choose from. No flowers were allowed. No rice-tossing, no wedding music or little flower girl. No wedding dress or tux. No wedding cake either, although a nurse brought them cake on their 1-month anniversary. Frankly, they wouldn’t have chosen a big-event kind of wedding anyway. But a garden wedding might have been nice; by this time of year, their neglected back yard was surely exploding in blooms.

The pastor and his wife (a witness) were dear friends who had traveled 6 hours across the mountains with only 3 days notice. The other witness was from the bride’s new circle of caregivers who lived in the hospital with their stricken family members. This witness had a 20-year-old son who was having life-threatening challenges while waiting for a heart transplant. Later she would lead the pastor to her son’s room for a blessing.

The bride simply had to marry the guy after his sweet middle-of-the-night proposal, on knees that were so swollen that they could barely bend; they laughed and cried as he grabbed her waist and she helped him up off the floor, back onto his hospital bed.

This scene reminded both of them of a night in their own bed several years before, where they got to laughing so hard that they both ended up on the floor.  Humor was a big part of who they were as individuals and defined them as a couple.

wedding hands

After their friends left, after the certificate was signed, he was set up with the postponed blood transfusion, as the new wife slipped back into her protective garb. Later that night she unfolded her cot and moved it next to his bed; they slept in wedded bliss holding hands between the beds.

Her birthday began just past midnight 8 days after the storybook wedding. She woke to him singing “Happy Birthday” in his whispery-raspy voice, and ending in the words, “…and many more with ME!”

His optimistic song and the effort he made to sing it were her best gifts ever. Her birthday passed by at the bottom of a long list of medical priorities that day, but her thoughts kept drifting back to his gift. If she closes her eyes and allows herself, she can still hear it today.

Seven weeks later, 11 days before his birthday, the new bride became a widow. Preparing him for the next step on his journey, eyes filled with tears, she lovingly bathed and dressed his body on their own bed at home. He had been Captain of the volunteer fire department and 2 of his men helped her. Later, the new widow’s mother sat in a chair next to the bed, humming soothing words and watching her daughter frantically cover up his body as it cooled.

The pastor and his wife would be heading back across the mountains soon.

 


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Good Grief, A Widow Writes A Memoir

Unfortunately there are way too many of us out here. Who has not been touched by cancer? Telling our stories is not only healing for us, but also healing and helpful for others. I know I have read many, many books and stories about other people’s struggles up, over, around and through this nightmare in the last 4 years. I just don’t think this genre can be saturated. We NEED to hear these stories, some of us NEED to write them.

It is so good to be back in touch with all the people and resources online. I have spent many hours researching the things I need to know about writing, publishing and author platforms. More specifically, I’m making online connections in the world of widows, writing memoirs and publishing. I have the material from our year of struggling to keep my late husband alive; my care pages updates, my personal journal, our medical journal, and my 3+ years of unofficial email grieving “blogs” to/from family and friends. I also have mounds of medical documents that tell that part of the story.

What my research is helping with is knowing the best way to tie this journey into a book that will be marketable. My late husband encouraged me to write this book in order to help others who are on this awful path. I am “meeting” so many others that have gone through similar struggles, that I know it will help me also.

Emotionally gearing up for this book journey is not easy. It is very painful; feels like I am opening a fresh wound. That is why I am working on other forms of writing. Poetry, short stories, and various writings for children helps me stay more balanced. I do have to be careful not to lose that balance and lean too far away from the pain of writing the book. Hey, I know me. I’m a chicken. I’ve spent the last 3 1/2 years hiding from the pain, which doesn’t work, by the way. All I can do is try. That’s the plan.

Peace,

Patti