by Erin Mitchell
This is my last post before Christmas, and I had every intention of continuing the “put characters from my favorite books read this year into a Christmas carol” tradition. I had a song all picked out, and even had Rebus and Bernie Rehodenbarr sharing a drink while Parker makes trouble.
But I’m going to forego the song this year, because I want to tell you about the power of books, and a woman I consider a dear friend.
Lisa Adams and I have little in common at face value…other than a love of reading. I met her on Twitter because of this shared interest. Lisa’s reading habits are more broad than mine are and we don’t necessarily read the same books, but the joy we get from reading and encouraging others to do so led to our having conversations on a lot of different topics, from the weather to the death of parents.
Lisa and I also talked quite a bit about healthcare. Lisa was first diagnosed with breast cancer in December, 2006. Following treatment that included a double mastectomy and chemotherapy (and much more; you can read about it here), in October, 2012 she learned that her cancer had metastasized to her bones, and she now had stage IV cancer.
Which is deadly.
This isn’t a case of Lisa being able to beat cancer. The goal of her treatment is to extend her life as long as possible. The nature of the disease, though, is such that the extension will not be indefinite. Her kids, who are 15, 11, and 7, and her husband and parents will eventually know life having lost their incredible mother, wife, and daughter.
When I learned of Lisa’s diagnosis, I was angry at The Universe. It’s so fucking unfair. She’s a good person. She makes a positive impact on the world around her (I’m a perfect example). As I’ve watched her share her experiences in the hope of educating those around her, I am in awe of her. I have referred many people to her blog—especially doctors—because while her specific experience is with cancer, much of it applies to any medical condition.
So why did I feel compelled to shift gears today from a Christmas Cheer Post to this one, which might be considered to be venturing into Debbie Downer territory? Two reasons:
First, I said above that I met Lisa online, and I did. Our conversations have been online, mostly on Twitter. But I did meet her in person once. Just for a minute, at BEA a couple of years ago. I was there in a professional capacity and was frazzled, and I will always deeply regret that I didn’t drop everything and follow Lisa around for a while. That I didn’t hug her a little longer. I think there’s an important lesson in this for us all and for always, particularly at this time of year.
Second, through her writings (which I encourage each of you to check out at http://lisabadams.com/), Lisa has made a difference to many, many people. A love of reading, of books, brought us together, and today, Lisa is part of my every day. In a world that is so often fraught with trials and tribulations, this is how Lisa starts her days, and I’ve found that joining her in this makes a difference in my days, too.
As many of you already know, my first tweet of each day is a mantra I’ve written: “Find a bit of beauty in the world today. Share it. If you can’t find it, create it. Some days this may be hard to do. Persevere.” I love to start my day with that saying each morning. It centers me. And so many have responded that they like it too.
The book community has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. Librarians contributed a great deal to raising me, and today, a love of reading has made my life rich beyond measure. I cannot adequately express my sadness, anger, and frustration that Lisa must travel down the road she’s on now. Nothing will make that OK. But I remain always and eternally grateful for knowing her.
Whatever you celebrate, please make it special.