When Life (and Your Writing) Takes A Detour

By Sharla Rae

I don’t usually spill my guts to anyone but my closest friends. I just don’t. But my critique pals here at WITS have been pressing me to share the obstacles I’ve faced in my writing life this past year.

I argued that people don’t want to hear my personal sob stories. I mean, everyone has them, right?

“But that’s the whole point,” Jenny told me. “You aren’t alone in this crazy journey. No one is.” Laura added something like, “Maybe someone else will feel less alone after reading your blog.” And quiet little Fae . . . well, she verbally throws up her fists and is ready to punch out anybody who says anything mean. <g> I can’t tell you how many times she’s invited me to stay at her house when I’m especially blue.

You know how sometimes you’re just chugging happily along and the man or lady upstairs decides you need a few “extra challenges?” This past year has been like that and then some.

If this story sounds like YOUR story, read on…you’re not alone.

Life was good. The kids had flown the nest and were doing well in their own careers. I was starting a new book, preparing to update my backlist for e-publishing and trying to decide if I’d send my finished book to publishers or just e-publish it too. My husband and I were looking forward to a river cruise in China.

I was sitting at my computer in California in July, 2011 when my thirty one year-old son called from Fort Worth, Texas. “Mom,” he said.

I heard it in his voice. Something really really bad had happened.

That something turned out to be 10 ½ centimeter mass in his chest. It was sitting over his heart and leaning against his wind pipe, causing severe breathing problems.

Writer or not, there’s no describing that moment. All the old clichés come to mind: lump in my throat, feeling of falling into a dark deep pit, etc etc etc. And they are “all” absolutely true.

48 hours later, I was on a plane to Fort Worth. My husband was on a business trip in Thailand.  My son’s wife was pregnant with their second child and was on bed rest. Everything fell on me.

Forget writing.

Instead, I became nanny to the four-year old, housekeeper and nurse. Between my son’s doctor’s appointments and his biopsy, I drove him to the ER for breathing problems and heart stress.

My husband arrived a little over a week later. He and my son were headed for the cancer center at MD Anderson in Houston when they realized they’d forgotten something and turned the car around. It was a blessing because my daughter-in-law had gone into in labor. My son detoured to the hospital, so happy to be there for the birth of his daughter. An hour later, he was back on the road to Houston.

The diagnosis was 4th stage large B cell lymphoma.

Traveling five hours to and from Ft. Worth was out of the question so we rented an apartment close to the hospital. My husband returned to his job in California and while my daughter-in-law took care of the babies in Fort Worth, I moved to Houston to care my son.

I tried to write, certain it would ease the stress of the dire situation, but our schedule was tight and when I did have time, I was too exhausted to make the effort. Between chemo sessions, there were hospital appointments. Some days we arrived at the hospital at eight in the morning and didn’t return to the apartment until 9 in the evening.

And my son was so sick.

With the exception of a few blogs here at WITS, there’s been no writing.

But the gals here, and even some of you here in the comments, helped bolster me up and kept me going when I began to wonder if my past (real) life was nothing but a pleasant dream.

That’s the thing about writers . . . More than any other professional group, they love and support each other above and beyond the call of duty.

When I felt guilty for wanting be home instead of Houston, my writing pals told me it was okay to want my life back. They also understood that even given the chance to return home and leave my son’s care to a stranger, as a mother I could not.

At the end of January 2012, my son received clinical remission. I returned home and slowly settled back into my life. In April we received news that he’d relapsed. Another small tumor was growing over his heart, this one wrapped halfway around an artery.

I won’t lie. I cried my heart out . . . for him and for myself.

On the first run of chemo, I’d watched him endure hellish tests, violent illness and terrible depression, a side effect of treatments. I just didn’t know if I could do it all over again.

I wanted my life back.
I wanted my writing.
I wanted the best time of my life returned to me.
And of course, I wanted my son free of this horrible body snatcher.

All of these feelings gave me a horrible case of the guilts. At the same time, I could not leave my son to make this journey alone.  He’s the bravest man I know, my hero.

We rented a new apartment and he started new chemo treatments in preparation for stem cell replacement. We suffered another blow. The chemo failed to shrink the tumor which meant no stem cell replacement – at least not yet.

After a 20 rounds of radiation, we’re now waiting to hear if he can continue on to stem cell replacement.

Am I writing yet? Yes and no.

I write in my head all the time but haven’t started the new book. I have, however, started updating one of the books from my back list. My daughter types the chapters, making it easy for me to step in and edit or add material. And thanks to my sister, who cared for my son in my place, I managed to attend the RWA National Conference this year. Laura Drake arranged the hotel and all I had to do was fly home and attend.

These gals at WITS have been my angels and, in some respects, so has this blog. And I can’t forget my old critique group in Texas, Lyn Horner and Gloria Cope who have helped me as well as my daughter-in-law in Fort Worth with the babies.

When I do have the time and energy to write that new book, they’ll all be there to kick me in the butt and cheer me on.

Thank you, ladies . . . with all my heart.

During the darkest days, when you’re in the middle of one of life’s detours, you’ll find friends and a support team in places you never dreamed you’d find them. As I writer I can only hope to one day write such wonderful heroines.

I can never give up, not on my son and not on my writing.

Have you faced obstacles and crises in your life that made you want to give up? What was it that helped you not give up? We’d love to hear your story (if you’re able to share) down in the comments.

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92 Responses to When Life (and Your Writing) Takes A Detour

  1. LauraDrake says:

    Your life is still waiting, Char. Know that, when you’re sitting in a hospital room, feeling a black hole staring back at you. A bunch of people love you, and are just waiting to enfold you when your son beats this, and picks his life up again. You can too – it’s all here, waiting.
    Love you, Lady.

  2. lizkflaherty says:

    Thank you for sharing this, for being able to write it down. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Thanks for commenting Liz. I admit it wasn’t easy. I started this blog about three different ways then decided to just go with my gut. I’m of an age, where I’ve learned to trust it, big time.🙂

  3. What an awesome post! Not because you’re suffering, of course, but because you got real with us and shared it. Now we can shower you with the cyber hugs you probably didn’t realize you needed.

    My heart goes out to you and your son – how awful this must be for your whole family. The part about him getting to see his child born, though, gave me chills. That’s divine intervention if I ever saw it.

    I know ‘hang in there’ is woefully inadequate, but please do. Take this season of your life a chapter and a layer at a time, and don’t waste time and energy getting ahead of yourself. Sneak in little bits of joy any time you get the chance. And don’t be afraid to lean on your friends. Even your cyber ones.

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Melissa, thanks for the hugs. Of all the blogs I’ve done, this was the hardest. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster ride and it’s hard to talk about. Sometimes a person just doesn’t want to go there — at least for a little while because it’s easier to pretend all is normal. But as I’ve said, I’ve found so much support from my writing community. I’ve always loved socializing with my writer friends because they “get” me. I’ve learned though, they are so much more though than just distant faces that share a common interest. They really care and so many have also experienced their own rollercoaster rides.

  4. Elaine Stock says:

    Sadly, from what I’m learning, my life is not much different when it comes to obstacles and crises. Coming from a difficult childhood, I’ve built some strength up to help weather “storms” during the past decades of adulthood. Yet, lately, it’s been very stressful. I don’t want to give up my pursuit of becoming a published author, but I have cried out… to God… that I certainly need more help. Although a big miracle wasn’t suddenly hurled downward from heaven, I feel that I can continue moving on, step by step, in belief and faith that life will simmer down again. So, the answer to your question of what keeps me going is my confidence in God and His love for me.

  5. Elaine Stock says:

    Sharla, a PS: I just prayed for your son and your family.

  6. Sending you the biggest virtual hug in the world! Your post brought tears to my eyes and my heart aches for you, your son and your entire family. What a challenge to go through. I don’t know how you are all holding it together?! I simply cannot imagine.
    Thank you for opening up and sharing with us. Your strength, perseverance and honesty is inspiring. It reminds me that when I think life is tough, I need to look around and be ever so very grateful because I don’t really know what “tough times” are!
    Your family is in my thoughts and prayers…know that even in the darkest of hour, you all have more strength and grit than you can ever imagine…you CAN do this!

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Thanks Natalie! What you said about knowing others are going through tough times is true. MD Andersen is like a “city” of brave souls. I’ve seen things that make me feel da**n lucky. I have these little private pep talks and remind myself that compared to some, my son and our family, aren’t bad off at all. It’s a wake up call, one that keeps us just putting one foot in front of the other.🙂

  7. Lara McGill says:

    Just had a chat with God asking him to take care of you and all your family. Comfort and help is on the way, from heaven and from us. We will not let you fall.

    BTW, I’m Lara. (hugs)

  8. Thank you for having the courage to share this with us. A lot of writers are quietly struggling, not wanting to share too much about the struggles they’re facing behind the scenes, but that does leave us feeling alone when we’re facing them.

    I’ll be praying for you, your son, and the rest of his family.

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Thanks Marcy. And you’re right. Because of my own situation, I recently learned about an RWA writer who was hereself a cancer patient at MD Andersen. She’s now published and her books are awsome!

  9. My heart aches for you and your family. Probably more than anything else right now, I hate cancer. With a passion. Your family is definitely not alone in the upheaval, turmoil and fear departments thanks to this wretched disease. I will add you all to my prayers.

  10. I’m so glad you decided to write this post. I agree, writers, especially romance writers are the most generous people I know. I’m so sorry about your son. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. God be with you.

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Ella, thanks for the prayers. In the future my son may have to “donor” stem cells (for now they will use his own), and I tweeted a website and told people to tell all their Eur-Asian friends to be swabed as possible matches for all Eur-Asian cancer patients. Many Eur-Asian cancer patients die for lack of donors. All my writer friends as well as many who I don’t even know, jumped on board, retweeting that link for donors. My son and I were amazed.

  11. Stacy Green says:

    As a parent, this post made me cry. I lost my brother to stage 4 throat cancer in January after two years of fighting, and I’ve watched my mom go through the various stages of grief (this is the second child she’s lost in seven years), so I have SOME idea of what you’re going through. I’m so sorry for all you’ve endured, but thank you for sharing this with us. Really helps to put some things in perspective. Your son and your family are in my prayers. Good luck:)

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Thanks Stacy. So sorry to hear about your family’s sorrow and sending hugs and sympathy. You definitely understand. My fear of losing the battle is always there but I haven’t allowed myself to go there. I’d fall apart for sure.

  12. To Sharla from the other Sharla… :-)… prayers are with you, girl. You are an inspiration, and make me realize my stress from being overwhelmed is mere pennies in a barrel. Keep smiling, and know you are not alone.

  13. Sharla Rae says:

    Sharla, I think no one’s problems are pennies in a barrel. Big and small, they are very real to each of us. I’m just amazed at the wonderful communtiy of writers who have been there for me and want all my writing friends to know they aren’t alone.🙂

  14. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family. Stay strong.

  15. Your story did bring back ‘that lump in my chest’ because ten years ago I was in your position with out daughter. It was definitely my writing family who saved my sanity. Our older daughter had melanoma that went inside instead of on the skin. She was in an experimental program in Los Angeles and lived in San Pedro. We live in a small mountain community so driving in LA traffic was a nightmare. What I learned about myself was – you can do anything if you try hard enough. Kellie had been the one who fainted at the sight of blood all her life. Bless her heart, she got through the transfusions and all the rest of the crap tossed at her, but unfortunately for us she lost the battle. We had her memorial on her 32nd birthday.

    In the next few years my husband was diagnosed with diabetes from the stress and then I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Life can certainly be tough. Luckily for me when the uterus came out all the cancer came with it. My husband finally started living again after a year and a half of just lying on the bed day after day. Our younger daughter got married and we started to heal. Then I fell and and broke my arm. They thought I was having a major heart attack when I arrived for surgery.(I knew it was one of the hot flashes I’d had for years and they finally agreed) but I spent three days on watch before the surgery. I had broken and smashed part of the bone and dislocated my elbow. Being a writer, how do you type with one hand. Not going to happen. I worked hard at the physical therapy and started typing a week after the surgery. In six weeks it was completely healed. It was then the doctor said he didn’t know if he could put me back together and I surprised him.🙂

    What I learned through the past ten years is – you can’t fight fate. You learn how to deal with whatever is tossed at you, you never give up, and you lean on your friends. Writers are the best kind of friends in this universe. I was never let down, they gave me the emotional support I needed and when I fell into the lowest pits, they counseled me to talk about ‘it’ and stay strong. I know my daughter watches over me. I can feel her and take comfort in talking about her. My friends listen.. I talk. AND, then my dream of 22 years happened. Last Christmas I got a writing contract for five stories. Dedicating my first story to my daughter was an honor I gave her.

    Now I help my friends when they face what I faced. I helps me as well. I have made and given away 37 quilts in Kellie’s honor. Stay tough and strong.

  16. Vicky Green says:

    Hi Sharla, My heart goes out to you and your family. Support of family and friends is so vital when you go through a life crisis. You are so blessed to have so many people to share their love, hugs, and help. It is a cliche, but believe me you will get through this. You sound like a very strong woman. Best wishes, Vicky

  17. Sharla Rae says:

    Wow, Paisley. I am humbled by your long road of detours. And I am sorrry about your daughter. But you are absolutely right. We have to keep fighting when life throws us these curve balls. The word surrender can’t be in our vocabulary. You are one brave lady and stories like yours help the rest of us to push through all the bad stuff. I’m glad you, too, found good writing friends to cheer you on.

  18. I couldn’t begin to understand, but I can say a prayer and think of you and your son, not to mention his wife and your husband. We do what we need to do when life calls on us to step it up. You’re a shining example.

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Thanks so much. You know I thought as a mom I knew what people went through when one of their kids was seriously ill. I know now, I really didn’t have a clue. My heart goes out to all moms who go through this.

  19. Sharla, dear friend,
    I’m writing through tears for you, your son, and families.I’m proud I can be here for you in spirit, with transportation or hugs. You helped me at a low point when I had experiences of another sort with our son. While I know God is always with us, I see our friends as the hollandaise sauce. We can get by without them, but they enrich our lives beyond the ordinary.
    I love you! Gloria

  20. You and your son have been in my thoughts and prayers and I’m thrilled to hear that the stem cell transplant is a go! I think I shared with you that my mother is fighting two forms of cancer, and the thing I’ve taken away from the whole horrible situation is a reaffirmation of the goodness in people. So many have stepped up to help in so many ways-helping transport my kids to their activities when I go out of town to stay with my mom, providing a shoulder to cry on, and just being there for whatever I need. I’m so glad you’ve found that as well, and it’s great that you’re getting back to your writing, even if it’s just baby steps. Hugs to you and your family. You’ll all continue to be in my prayers.

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Ally, thanks for the kind thoughts. This has been a lesson for my son too. He just couldn’t get over it, when his neighbor, a man he really didn’t know came over to mow the lawn for my daughter in law while he was in the hospital. It’s taught him a lot about his fellow man.

  21. texasdruids says:

    Shar, I’m glad you decided to share your story. I know from experience how cathartic it can be to unload part of our burdens onto others. It’s good for the soul. Thanks for mentioning me, although I don’t feel I’ve done nearly enough to help you through the past hellish year. I wish I could be there to hug you. One of these days, when your son is free of the body snatcher and home with his wife and kids where he belongs, you and I are going out for lunch the way we used to, either here in Texas or in California. And we’ll cry on each other’s shoulder — about writing stuff! How fun will that be?!🙂

  22. Gerri Bowen says:

    Very brave of you to share, Shar, and I’m happy to hear the therapy is now a go. God bless you and your family.

  23. Pingback: Inspiration for All | Lyn Horner's Texas Druids

  24. taristhread says:

    Hi Sharla, My heart and prayers are with you, your son and his young family, all of your family. First I’m sending positive thoughts and prayers that he’ll have a speedy and full recover.

    It’s been a rough year for us as well, but not as rough as yours. My sons are 30, 23, and 20, and the thought of any of them going through what your son is dealing with is more than I can think about. For us the year has had primarily economic challenges, and they have definitely slowed my writing process. I think things are getting back on track, and I’m working hard to not get completely side tracked from my writing.

    I’ll keep you and your family in my thoughts, and hope that you’ll have your life back and your son will be fully recovered and enjoying that new baby soon.

    Congratulations on the new grandbaby, that has to be a light in all of this. Hope to see you at OCCRWA, and thank you for sharing your story.

    Tari

  25. Sharla, my heart ached as I read your story and the wonderful comments of your friends.

    I have two healthy children, three healthy grandchildren … I never … never take that for granted. I lived through a different loss … my brother at age 31. He was my middle brother, my alter-ego and best friend … he was my adversary and nemisis and all that can happen with siblings between the push and pull of love and the battle of two strong-willed children.

    The wonder of a new life coming at a terrible time … what some might think is the worst time … is the universe in its vast wisdom reaffirming the endless chain of life. Only seven months after I lost my brother, my daughter was born, pink and chubby and so unlike him in every way, I still saw her as a sign that life balances joy and sorrow … gives us reasons each and every day to continue in spite of our struggles.

    Your good friends here at WITS were correct to encourage you to share this story … to show others how you have survived and continue in spite of the terrible obsticles your family faces each day. No matter what happens, your son’s spirit will remain with you, and be at your side when you have the time and courage to write … and he will find his way into the hearts of those who read this post today. My thoughts will be with you and with him and his family.

    • Sharla Rae says:

      So sorry for your loss, Florence. My son turned 32 in May. It’s way too young to lose them or see them suffer. You’ve been a great friend here at WITS and I always look for your comments now.🙂 Take care.

  26. Edith says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Know that you and your lovely son are remembered and prayed for. Writing is a funny thing…once you catch the bug it never ever leaves you. Your pen and paper will still be there when you are ready to pick them up again. Much love xxx

  27. Thank you for sharing your story. The company I work for raised $50,000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma last year. This year we are on target to beat that number by another $10K.

    I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  28. Anne Pettis says:

    Dear Sharla,
    August of 2004 my husband and I went to Dallas to build Haunted Houses with Glen, a very dear friend of ours. I left Jesse, my husband, there and rode home on a Greyhound bus (i do love adventure) to continue to take care of one of our grandsons.
    In mid September I returned to Dallas (i drove this time) and we started working on finishing up the three Haunted Houses. Actually I designed them, and worked up the story lines for all three.
    Unfortunately, we ended up in a place called Richardson, TX and the bible belt decided our demons and spooks were not welcome so we lost our nestegg, and in the midst of that my husband cut two of his fingers bad enough that they needed stitches.
    So, he ended up with Mersa. In the hospital.
    One of our daughters, Tami, had come to Texas to help, and to try to regain her health.
    But, instead, she got sicker. Her liver and heart were not functioning properly.
    Jesse finally got out of the hospital, but remained on IV antibiotics, and finally, against all odds, he got better.
    In fact, he got well enough to go back to Denver, so one of our other daughters flew down and drove him back.
    Unfortunately, the day she arrived, Tami fell into a coma and was actually considered brain dead, but her body didn’t get the message and her heart kept beating, so I stayed in Texas until she drew her last breath and gently slipped away.
    Our other four daughters came down to help pack up and bring me home. Then I drove home to Denver. By then it was the first of March.
    Glen, the friend we had built the Haunted Houses with, died a month and a half later.
    Jesse celebrated his 73 birthday on July 28th, and died August 11th at the EZ Street Casino in Central City of a ruptured aorta.
    All this sounds very dramatic, and, in a way it was, but, you see, I do not believe in death. These bodies we wear are rentals, disposables, that we can cast off at any time. I honestly believe that our essence, our spirit, our soul, or whatever energy you chose to call it, lives on.
    The six months in which Tami, Glen, and Jesse passed were tramatic, but there is a story to tell.
    Jesse became fascinated with yellow vehicles and we played a game of who could spot the most as we traveled around.
    On the day after he passed I was headed out to run an errand and feeling down. I stopped at a red light and a bright yellow car pulled up alongside of me. Across the street a yellow cab waited to turn left, and just then, two yellow cars passed in front of me.
    I couldn’t help but laugh. Jesse was a Leo and always loved showy gestures, and this, to me, was one of his “Ah ha’s!”
    Later, we were headed out camping and a tent fell onto a major highway. I went back to get the darn thing, wondering how I was going to stop the traffic long enough, when three semis slowed and stopped. The middle one was YELLOW!
    As I choked back laughter the drivers of two of the semis got out and helped bring the tents to the side of the road – the driver of the yellow semi did not get out.
    My writing stuttered, then I discovered I could scream in poetry and wrote reams. In the hospital listening to the relentless sounds of suffering, poetry let me use its rhythm to beat out the words.
    Now the box of poetry sits, unmolested, and unread, in a dark corner of my attic. More better there then in my heart. And I am back writing.

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Anne, your story is so touching and beautiful. I believe all that yellow came your way because someone up “there” wanted you to remember all the good stuff and not the sad about your loved ones. Thanks so much for sharing. And I am so glad you’re writing. After all you’ve been through it must surely be very strong.

      • Anne Pettis says:

        Dear Sharla, when our children become ill and we feel helpless to help them, the anger, at first, is unbelieveable. It actually helped me to pick up a piece of paper and a pen, and free form my muddled, and muddy thoughts. Mine became a brutal form of poetry where I was able to tell the universe just how lousy it was treating me. And then, one day, I remembered something I had read as a teenager.
        “I exist!” cried man.
        “However,” replied the universe, “that does not create in me a sense of obligation.”
        and at that point I came to the conclusion that we, my daughter and I, were exactly where we were supposed to be, and discovered an uneasy peace.
        We all chose to be born. And we are born with a fatal disease called life. Some of us, for example me now approaching 78, live long, and sometimes we learn, other times we just waste our time wringing our hands and crying, “Why me, God?” But we don’t always wait for the answer which is usually, “Why not you?”
        Anyway, I sincerely hope that things turn out well for you and yours, and I will leave you tonight with the wish my grandmother always made in times like these. “May you shed just enough tears to make the laughter sweet.” Goodnigh, and Good Luck. Anne

  29. Chris Devlin says:

    Shar,
    I wish I could do more, but I can wish you and your family all the best and send out healing vibes and good thoughts.
    Best,
    Chris Devlin

  30. Ms T says:

    Your courage in sharing your story is inspirational. I love your honesty, with yourself and others. Praying for you and your family during this time, and thanking you for your allowing those of us going through to be there for you.

  31. C. K. Crouch says:

    My story seems mild compared to yours but the community fo writers is so awesome. Last year (2011) started off with my husand in the hospital. He’d been there since before Christmas. This was the third time since June of 2010 he’d been in the hospital. He finally got out mid Jan and we came back to my sister’s house where we’d moved to in June of 2010 out of options when our landlord wanted his house back. Jim went back in the hospital in March with bacterial pneumonia, by now he was also on dialysis for his only kidney. Things went up and down after that. His heart quit on 30 Nov 2011. I buried him on 6 Dec 2011. The writers I shared different writing loops with were so awesome and caring. I hope things work out for your son I really do say a prayer for you and your family. I have no children but I managed to keep writing simply to stay sane,

  32. Sharla Rae says:

    Mild?! OMG, I don’t call this mild at all. My heart goes out you and I’m so sorry for your loss. And yes, thank God writing to keep us sane.

    • C. K. Crouch says:

      Thanks Shar. It was a rough time but the love and friendship of fellow writers was awesome. Jim’s family is so wonderful also. I didn’t mention we were married 40 years 9 months and 11 days. I joked we had a 40 year blind date. He fought until his heart quit. I so hope your son pulls through and beats this.

  33. Kristin Noel says:

    Sharla,
    I can only imagine how difficult this is. I so enjoyed meeting you at the WF-mini conference. Despite all that you’re going through, you reached out to me at the dinner and made me feel welcomed. Thank you.
    God Bless you and your family.
    Kristin Noel

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Kristin, I’m so glad we got to meet at WF mini con. I have to say it was my favorite part of the conference. I’m kind of shy sometimes but this group made me feel esp. comfortable and I couldn’t help but want to get to know everyone.🙂 Hope to see again soon and thanks so much for your kind words.

  34. Yvette Carol says:

    I wish your son all the best, Sharla. Really.
    Many years ago, about 25 or so, my son went to live with his father. I became a part-time parent. But you see, I was young, too young to be a mum. I had my son when I was 17. My son had to go to his dad, because I wasn’t coping. So, at this point of crisis I’m telling you about, I wrestled with wanting to run away. It’s hard to admit it. But, as soon as my boy went to his father, I wanted to leave. I wanted to pack a bag and disappear. I’d exhausted every aspect of myself trying to parent this child on my own for 5 years. And I needed a break. A clean break. To go somewhere and start again. To just be a girl again. I can’t even tell you how I battled with myself in private. I fought, and wrestled, and cried myself to sleep.
    What I am the most glad of, the most proud of today, is that I stayed.
    My boy is now 30 years old. And we don’t have the spectre of abandonment between us. We have love and respect. Thank goodness!

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Yvette, the thing is, when we have kids, no one gives a how-to manual.🙂 When my kids complain about this or that when they were young, I remind them of this and that I always did the best I could. That’s all any of us can do. We will always have regrets but it’s the present we have to live for and it sounds like you’re a darn good mom to me. Take care.

  35. I, along with everyone else here, am very thankful you had the guts to write this story and put it “out there” for us to read. I recall going with my mom to radiation and chemo treatments because I believe that no one should ever have to endure that sort of thing alone. She always told me she could drive herself and yada yada; but I was adamant, as you are, that going with your son and being supportive is just something you have to do because you are YOU. And thank God there are people like you in the world. You deserve kisses and hugs and squeezes and I wish I could give them to you myself, but I’m too far away. But, Sharla, here they come – they’re on their way to you — all the virtual hugs I can give you and your family for seeing this through. Your son sounds awesome and so does your husband and your daughter-in-law.
    Patti

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Patricia, I totally get that your mom thought she could handle everything by herself. I think cancer patients are brave that way. But It’s wonderful that you could be there for your mom, to cheer her on. I’m sure you made her days of treatment easier to bear. Your being there reminded her why she was battling so hard — because she had loved ones who needed her.🙂 Sometimes we care givers are just cheerleaders but I believe that particular role just might be more important than all the others.

  36. Sharla, my thoughts and prayers are with your son and your family. Our children — our families — are the most precious thing in the world, aren’t they? I hope you’ll keep us apprised of your son’s progress so we can keep sending healing thoughts and prayers his way. You are so brave and my heart breaks for what you’ve had to go through. Hugs to you!

  37. My heart goes out to you, Sharla. I’ll pray for a miracle for your son. I know what it is to lose a child. I lost my youngest at 21. Just know that the sacrifices you’re making for your son are not in vain. You’re giving help and hope.

    Barb

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Barb, I’m so sorry for your loss. There is nothing and I do mean nothing worse than losing a child. You are so sweet to offer your kind thoughts. Thank you.

  38. marsharwest says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, Sharla. I’m so sorry you, your son, and family have to go through this ordeal. Thanks to those of you who shared your stories. This whole post is inspirational. Perhaps someone could collect them all as a tribute to the lost loved ones, the tremendous support drom our writing families and friends, and an encouragment to others who find themselves in similar situations. My prayers are with you and yours, Sharla.

  39. Linda says:

    Hi Sharla,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can only imagine how hard that was to do. My heart goes out to you and your family, and I pray the healing will continue for your son. I, too, have battled cancer (so far, so good) and know it’s a life changing struggle that takes us to a different place in life. We go on, but with a sobering knowledge of how very precious life is, and we must celebrate what we have and truly live in each and every moment. Your post is an inspiration to others going through life-changing struggles with loved ones. As a parent, you want to do so much and yet can do so little…except be there. You are doing all you can do, and the writing will wait. It’s inside you and will never disappear.

    Much Love and Hugs (((( )))
    Linda

  40. I think the number of responses you have elicited says it all, Sharla. “Writing in your head” will pay off, too. I did quite a bit of that while sitting with my Dad. Through all of this you’re giving back, with help and with stories. Hang in there.
    Best,
    James

  41. Sharla,
    Sending a cyber hug your way. I remember how thorough your son was when he set up the computer he sold me with all my programs and stories. I hope he continues to get better. I know about chemo and radiation because I had that after a masectomy, but thanks to God I lived through all that and am fine now. I’m glad to hear you’ve sold five stories. Did you ever get the one about the Norweigian immigrants in Washington published?
    Carolyn Williamson

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Carolyn, so nice to hear from you! Actually I’ve sold only three and the other stuff is in the works.🙂 Yes on the Norweigian immigrant family. How To Fell A Timberman is ready. I’d just cut out 22 pages before all this happened. Think I’ll e-publish it. The new book I talked about is another book about another brother in the same immigrant family. My fingers are itching to write it.

  42. Sharla, Sorry you’ve had such a hard time. I hope you are able to publish your book soon. Is it the one about the girl in the lumber camp?

  43. Sharla, I know a little of how you feel. In the last year, we’ve had an international move, five months of unemployment, then a job in the 11th hour, only to get a phone call in the middle of another move saying my mother’s kidney tests didn’t go well and she was in the hospital, maybe to heal, maybe to die any day, no one knew. Coming home from a couple of laughter-filled weeks with her, and her funeral, I had no idea how to proceed. But friends came out of the woodwork to make me cry with their love and prayers and support. Then another round of unemployment. Then another family member died. Then a job offer that fizzled into nothing left us staring into the bottom of our checking account, and I was being told I’d been out of the “work force” too long to get an office job, even at minimum wage. I keep telling myself, if my husband gets another job soon, and if no one dies in the near future, I can do this, I’ll keep at it. But I’ve never had a year as hard as this one. Still, God has sent us support in amazing and awesome ways! I’ve been praying for you, and I’ll pray for you more. I, too, long to write even better heroines now that I’ve seen so many more heroes and heroines in my own life. 🙂 God bless you and your family!

  44. Sharla Rae says:

    Kitty, I know life and writing detours come in all sizes and shapes and my heart goes out to you for your loss. My daughter and her husband went through the no job thing for a long time. At one point my son-in-law worked 3 jobs and my daughter took in day care kids to make ends meet. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you to suffer the loss of loved ones amidst so much stress. My son in law finally got a wonderful job AZ and my daughter is working for the school system. Hang in there, something will come along. We can share hugs.🙂

  45. Julie Glover says:

    Oh, Sharla! My heart weeps for you, your son, and his family. As a mom, I can’t imagine how much strength you must find from somewhere within yourself to deal with these challenges. I will pray for your situation.

    I live just outside Houston and have visited M.D. Anderson many times with a good friend and mother who both battled breast cancer. It is an excellent facility, and I hope your experience there has been good overall. If you need any Houston-area help, let me know. Seriously.

    • Sharla Rae says:

      Bless you Julie! And I agree with your words on M.D. Anderson. We were shocked when we realized that perhaps a 1/3 of the staff has experienced cancer themselves. Perhaps that’s why the people their are so empathetic. They are wonderful and seem to sense a patient’s need even before it’s voiced. Maybe that’s why they have been the #1 cancer center in the nation for three years.

  46. Sandra Dauber says:

    I am very sorry to hear this. It sounds very hard.

  47. lynncswc says:

    Sharla, despite the storms you have been weathering, I could also see the sunshine. I thought this blog post deserved The Sunshine Award! http://callsignwreckingcrew.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-sunshine-award.html

  48. Sharla Rae says:

    Wow, thanks. I’ll have to check this out.

  49. Pingback: “Writerly” Thanks From Our Team Here at WITS | Writers In The Storm Blog

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