There is a blank page before me. An endless sea of white, yearning to be filled with words and ideas; dots and lines. I stare at it and long to write out my thoughts. To express the ideas and agonies that race through my mind on a daily, no, hourly basis. Every day for the past two years I have told myself that– ‘Today’s the day, the day I get back at it’.
But it never seems to happen… because for the past two years I have been running a bakery that I co-own, which has taken up every ounce of my creativity, my energy, and my stamina. With each new recipe I create, with each pie I sell, and each cookie I bake, I push my writing further and further to the back of the shelf. By the time I fall into bed at night, mentally exhausted and physically drained from a whirlwind of baking and feeding customers– I have left no room for reflection and observation–the two ingredients necessary to perfectly shape a piece of writing.
For two years, I have been ignoring my passion for writing– the one thing that had always left me happy and fulfilled. Somehow I had allowed myself to get wrapped up in someone else’s dream, while neglecting my own. Sometimes we get caught up in things without realizing what’s going on.
Sometimes, it takes a tragedy to re-set our priorities.
Last week, while making 250 pies for Thanksgiving orders, I learned that an old friend had passed away. She had contacted me last year when she was diagnosed with her breast cancer — for support, information, reassurance. I tried to help her with the logistics of it all having reached the end of my own treatment –the chemo, the dehydration, the mouth sores, the hair loss. I tried to prep her and be on call for any questions day or night. I knew that the type of breast cancer she had–triple negative–was a difficult one, but I tried to remain upbeat.
When I heard of her passing I realized that I hadn’t seen her in quite a few months, though I thought of her often and heard of her recovery and re-lapse from others. I was busy with the bakery–the guilt here was palpable.
As I reflect back on the years of knowing this woman, reflect on her true spirit, her laugh, her non-judgemental qualities–one thing stands out prominently; how she was always interested in what others’ were doing and how she always cared wholeheartedly. I am sure each of her friends will agree. She seemed to take a genuine interest in others lives and always remembered what they were doing.
As for myself, this is what she said every time I saw her:
“Fran,” she would say with a serious look, “when are you going to finish that book?”
“I know, I know , I am trying,” I would answer,”But do you really think anyone would want to read it?”
“Oh My God, Yes. I want to read it….you have to finish it, I’m not kidding…”
She was an avid reader. We spent many years in the same book club together before I dropped out. She would not only read the book that the group picked, but 2 or 3 others in between. So for her to tell me that she loved my writing and wanted to read my finished book, gave me an incredible sense of purpose and renewed vitality when it came to my writing.
There are other things I was reminded of this past week; like how I was struck with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my own life, or how we should visit those we think about more often–but those are blogs for another day. For now, I just needed to fill this first empty page as a jump start to get back into my writing and to say thank-you to my friend for believing in me. I truly hope you are surrounded by books in your own personal library in heaven and dining with all the authors you have ever wanted to meet. To you I make this promise — I will continue to make time to write every day. I will write this book. For you. And for Me.