Sunday, August 9, 2015


Last week I said goodbye to a beautiful writer friend of mine, Mary.  Mary fought a very tough battle with cancer, and I'd like to think that even though she didn't beat the cancer, she attacked the negativity that cancer brings, and she opened up a can of whoop ass on that negativity.  She smiled through the pain until the very end, even though it was only for Robert's bad jokes : ).

I met Mary at one of the writing workshops I facilitate through the library I work for.  She was writing a memoir composed of letters to the children she taught while teaching special education in the hopes that she could support educators working with autism spectrum disorders.

It was a beautiful memoir, both heartbreaking and inspirational, and Mary was passing it around to her beta readers at the time of her passing.  One of her sons has taken the baton and plans on publishing it.

Last year I was selected for an artist and poet pairing for a showing at a Missouri art gallery.  The event is called Interpretations.  Artists and poets submit their work and if accepted, are matched with a piece to interpret.  So for writers, their accepted writing is given to an artist for the artist to interpret.  Meanwhile, the writer is given the artist's accepted artwork to interpret.  I had such a wonderful time I decided to tell all my writer friends about it this time around.  I was accepted again this year, as well as Mary and another workshop attendee who helped Mary submit because she was already struggling at the time of submission.  

Mary never managed to fully write her second poem, but while she was in the hospital we talked about it and made notes.  

With her family's blessing I put Mary's words into poem form without adding any words or changing her voice.  Today, before submitting my poem, I sent Mary's off first, and it was a lot harder than I thought it would be to click send.

When our writings are matched with the artwork and are ready to be viewed at the gallery I will not be hanging out with Mary on opening night, but I still expect her to make an appearance in everyone who reads her pieces.

I am thankful that Mary's son is going to continue with her book and I am thankful that another workshop attendee helped Mary submit to Interpretations.  I am thankful Mary had room for me in her life, which was bursting with family and art and grandkids and writing and friends.  I am thankful for her tenacity and wisdom, kindness and humor.  I am thankful that she is no longer in pain and that her spirit and words are living on in so many people. 

1 comment:

  1. This is so personal that I felt like a trespasser when I tried to comment. My first thought was I hope a feather finds Hannah Jane. You are such a dear and thoughtful friend and it is wonderful to see that people appreciate you. You are a great friend because you surround yourself with people like Mary. I am so sorry for your loss, I am happy that she is no longer in pain, and I am happy that her final gift was words that she entrusted with you.