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Hanging on

My father died unexpectedly a week ago. He was only 57, and it was a complete shock to my whole family. Those of you who know me pretty well know that he had ongoing health issues, mainly that he had seizures due to a brain injury from a car accident he was in a few years before he got married. They were issues that my family and I had learned to deal with. It was normal for him to have to be sent to the hospital once every few months. He also survived prostate cancer a couple years ago and a pretty serious gum and sinus infection from a polyp in his nasal cavity. We all knew he had ongoing health concerns, but they were under control as much as possible. When he suddenly had trouble breathing last Monday morning, my brother called an ambulance right away, but no one expected it was going to be as serious as it was. He had stopped breathing, and by the time they got to the hospital, there was nothing they could do. The doctors think it may have been a pulmonary embolism.

My brother called me from the hospital. I had been outside searching for my cat Oskar, who had somehow gotten outside the night before even though he hates the outdoors. I had to go into autopilot to throw my aerobed and laptop into the car and have my boyfriend drive to pick up my youngest brother and then head to the hospital. My brother was there with my mother. He had to go pick up my third brother from the train station. It was just horrible.

But when we got home from the hospital, our house was already full of people. One of my mother’s sisters was there, as were about four or five of her really close friends, with coffee and donuts. My mother’s brother had been working on my grandmother’s living room in the apartment upstairs from ours, so he was there too, and one of her other sisters was on her way over with pasta and the ingredients to make sauce. Two more of her sisters showed up later that afternoon. The day felt so long—from the hospital to the funeral home a few hours later and then the florist—but it was made bearable by the outpouring of support from everyone we knew. I felt lucky that my mother was part of such a big family (five sisters and one brother). They all lost their dad far too early too, so they understood in a special way what we were going through. My dad’s oldest brother was there at the funeral home with us, and his other brother and his family flew up from Florida and visited on Tuesday.

My friends were also the most amazing people in the world. Friends and even parents of friends came to the wake and the funeral. Coworkers stopped in, and the company sent beautiful flowers to the funeral home. My entire MFA class still living on this coast came to the wake. People have been emailing or calling daily just to check in and see how I’m doing, and my college roommate came to visit this weekend to make sure I was ok. I can’t tell you all how much it helps having such good people in our lives. After the wake Wednesday night, there was a large group of friends and family at my house cheering on the Bruins in Game 7 as they won their first Stanley Cup in almost 40 years. My dad would’ve loved it.

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Year in retrospect

Since my previous entry was kind of depressing, I’ve been wanting to write a more upbeat post for awhile now. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about where I was just a year ago and how much that has changed. I was trying to deal with a lot of stuff that had happened pre-grad school, and last year in general had been sort of up-and-down emotionally. But I think when the playwriting workshop portion of my MFA program ended, I sort of felt this void and started to feel really sad all the time again. The structure that the workshop classes had given me was sort of pulled out from under me, and I had no idea how to handle it. I was in summer classes, but it wasn’t the same.

I hit a real emotional low around mid- to late-June last year, and my playwriting class’s planned weekend getaway at our classmate’s summer lake house was coming up at the end of the month. My outlook tanked so much in the week leading up to it that I almost didn’t go. I even went so far as to officially cancel only to be talked back into it by my awesome classmates. When I look back, I always mark that weekend as the turning point in getting my life back in order. There was great people, great food, a lake, a rope swing, a hot tub, a trampoline, and lots of wine, among other things. And also a hammock. I feel like that weekend was when I finally got myself out of mere survival mode and into moving-forward mode.

One of the biggest changes was that over the July 4 weekend, I decided to follow in the footsteps of one of my friends and put up a profile on Match. 😛 It was the first time that the thought of potentially letting someone get close to me didn’t make me feel sick. Within a week of my profile being up, this super-awesome guy named Allan emailed me, and we met up in person on July 14. Now he’s sitting right next to me on the couch in the apartment that we share. And my two kitties are running around with his chubby cat and causing trouble. It’s definitely been a really good year.

I also, because I’ve been amazingly lucky this year, had a few steps forward with my writing. I completed my degree in January, so I now have an MFA to my name that I did not have a year ago. And I got an award-of-sorts by making the semifinals of the Kennedy Center’s Ten-Minute Play award (does it count as an award if you don’t actually make the finals? haha). A group of BU alums started up a workshop group so we could continue to hear actors read our work and get feedback from each other. AND I had my first-ever production just a few weeks ago. This time last year, I was just a nervous girl who had just finished her playwriting classes and was worried that without that structure I’d never be able to see my work developed again.

This year has been awesome. It’s something I can look back on when rejections seem to be pouring in endlessly as encouragement to keep going. My playwriting classmates and I have recently started planning the second-annual weekend at the lake. I definitely won’t be almost backing out of this one.

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