My editor asked me to step with her into the news director’s office.
What have I done now…?
It was the first thought that crossed my mind.
My editor’s boss, the news director, is named Robby.
Robby wears cowboy boots.
I followed my editor into his office. We sat down.
I found out Robby subscribes to This is Eli.
“I find it very compelling,” he said. “You’ll sleep when you’re dead. Haha – I liked that.”
“Oh, wow,” I said. My boss’s boss was quoting the post I wrote the night before. Well, early in the morning, any way. I finished around 1 a.m.
“Thanks! You subscribe?”
“I’ve read it since the beginning.”
Oh, wow, that’s really flattering, thank you!”
“You know, we both read it,” my editor said. “And we’ve trying to decide if we like it just because we know you, or, if we liked it because it was good.”
I guess she and Robby had a discussion and discovered that they just liked it because, well, they just did.
And that’s a compliment in a newsroom. We don’t give those away for free, people.
I was just really flattered. Kinda tickled. All a writer really ever wants to do is impress other writers. Let’s all just admit it, writers.
I’ve been aware my co-workers read this blog. I made no secret that I started writing after I had a child and things didn’t go like we had planned. We had planned for life to be perfect. Life’s not perfect, as it turns out. Life is life. It can be harrowing, full of struggle and confusion and fear and change. It can batter the heart.
Life is a writer’s dream…if only it weren’t so hard and time consuming as to keep most of us writers from writing about it. Every journalist secretly harbors a dream to write the next great American novel.
Robby told me this in my job interview.
I agreed. It was true.
Those deadlines. Those deadlines always seem to get in the way.
Agreed. Also true.
When I returned to work after a few months off to take care of routine matters before my leave ended, I felt totally overexposed.
They’d all been reading about me.
Great. Now my co-workers reading this know I felt overexposed.
Work and life. I prefer those entities to remain separate. By writing about my non-work life I cracked a window in the wall separating that world from the other.
I wasn’t really sure how I felt about that.
So I just kept writing.
To hell with it.
So then today, I sat down, with my editor, in Robby’s office, and worried that I’d done something stupid.
No, he wanted to see if I’d like to write a first-person account of my experience with Eli for the paper.
Like a column, but with more space. I could write it however I want.
Maybe vignettes, my editor, Kathryn said, like a timeline. I could use the pictures I’ve been taking.
I liked those ideas.
I told them I would have to think about it, even though I knew as soon as he suggested it my answer was “Yes.”
I do worry about exposing my family in a way that could somehow harm us.
Then again, here was this great opportunity, right in front of me, to write something that could raise awareness for the disease my son has. Maybe it could help other people who expected a perfect life, the lush green field.
When the nurses took my baby away, and the surgeon said they’d have to cut him open, it was like fire ran over my perfect vision, my lush green field, and it looked like all was lost. Then, over the months, nature took over and seeds started to sprout and what replaced the perfect vision was something new, something different. It was the unexpected, and for me, it is still growing. The new growth is replacing the ash and the sorrow and the smoke curling up over the land into gray question marks. My family is standing in the middle of the field and looking into the distance. We are on a journey that has just started, and we don’t know what is coming.
When not penning stunningly beautiful wildfire metaphors, I sometimes think about why I continue write here.
The last thing I want to do is try to sell people on something, or push my views this way or that, or tell people how to live or act like I’m perfect and I know it all, like that one Gwnyeth Paltrow Moob or Gloob or whatever blog it is that she started. She started a blog to tell everyone they should eat microbes and gourmet pond scum or something like that. I have an agenda, though. I really do want to wield the power of the www to help my son and my family.
With May being cystic fibrosis awareness month, I turned a corner. I want to contribute, some how, to raise awareness about this disease, to raise its profile. They really are close to finding a treatment that would almost cure Eli. There are ongoing clinical trials that, if successful, could result in medication that will change how Eli’s cells work, saving his lungs. With CF, it’s the infection in the lungs that eventually kills. I want my child to live. I want children born like Eli to have a better chance to outlive their parents. Almost half of them still die before their 18th birthday. That’s not good enough for me.
That’s why I write.
I admit it. At work, I have an e-mail file called “happy people.”
I went through it after my maternity leave to remind myself why I do what I do.
There was a line that stuck out.
“Thank you for letting the facts tell the story. Thank you for telling it like it is.”
Telling it like it is.
I can do that.
I called Mark to make sure it was OK I say yes to this column, or series, or whatever it is. It sounds like I can make it whatever I want it to be.
“Yeah, it’s OK,” he said. “You would have done it any way if I said no.”
“Yeah, but at least I asked!” I said.
He was right.
Now, it’s time to panic.
I’ve got a deadline.