Thursday, September 22, 2011

Farewell to a great lady

Sometimes people come into your life and touch your heart in a way you can never forget. When I was a sixteen-year-old gangly kid with shoulder length hair, resembling a stretched and skinny Ethan Hawke from Reality Bites, I played in a grunge band. But I wanted to do more than just play music, I wanted to write. I was twelve when I began writing short stories and short scripts, wanting to either be a horror film-maker, author, or both. I never really told any of my friends this because I worried they would demand I choose music or nothing, so I kept quiet about those other aspirations.

I became friends with this girl--for the sake of privacy I will say her name was Alisha.  Alisha and I spent a lot of time together, either at my house, her house, going to mutual friends' houses, eating all their food, smoking a lot of stuff, and just having a good time in each other's company. Her mother...we'll call her...Linda...was such a cool lady.  Down to earth, laid back, and wouldn't take crap from anyone. I loved her dearly. The first I was invited to Alisha's house, I sat on the couch while Alisha made something to drink for us. The kitchen was visible from the living room, so I had a clear view of the kitchen table. It was clean on top, except for a big object tarped under a sheet of frosted plastic. After a few visits, I finally worked up enough courage to ask Linda what she had hidden under there. And when I discovered that the bulky shapes under that plastic cover was a word processor, I began asking Linda some serious questions.

What I learned was that she was an aspiring writer! Not only that, she was an avid reader of horror. She took me to her hidden bookcases, those she didn't keep displayed in the open where everyone could see. She showed me rows of books by Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Bentley Little, Clive Barker and more. I was floored by the discovery and her confession--she was working on a horror novel! So I opened up to her about how I wanted to be a writer. She immediately became my biggest supporter, gave me a stack of books by the aforementioned authors to read and study, and gave all the advice she'd learned.

Sadly, what followed that next year, was kids growing up and drifting apart. Alisha and I had our own lives distracting us from our bond and we didn't spend too much time together the following year. By the year after that, we didn't talk at all. But, thanks to Facebook, we were able to reconnect.

When I learned that I was finally going to have a book published, there were people I wanted to tell, to thank. I tracked Alisha down through FB only to read on her page that her mother, Linda, had just recently passed away...

I'm heartbroken. I know for a fact if it wasn't for Linda's early support that I would have eventually stopped writing. It was always something that I enjoyed, but it was a mere hobby that I dabbled with periodically. But after Linda's encouragement, it became a necessity. I was driven, motivated. And most importantly, I was inspired.   

I will never forget you Linda, or what you did for me. Everything I've ever written has had a piece of you in it, and always will.