Just Start Gayle, Just Start: Chance Encounters at a Barry Manilow Concert

She tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Do you know how to make this light stick work?”  My daughter Gigi took her light stick, cracked it and made it glow to its warm red color.  “It’s easy, see?” Gigi said, adding, “Are you at the concert by yourself?”  Gayle was attending alone, sitting behind us in Row D.  At 11 years old, Gigi didn’t even know who Barry Manilow was.  At quite a bit over 11, I remembered Barry Manilow from high school but wouldn’t have bought tickets to a concert then or probably now.  But our friend Ann’s mother had taken ill and she gave us the tickets just days before.  What a hoot, I thought, to see Barry Manilow live.  Gigi and I went to YouTube the night before and played more than a few Barry Manilow videos to prepare ourselves.

Now, we readied our light sticks which I imagine are the modern equivalent of cigarette-lighters-at-concerts from back in the day and we began to talk to Gayle.  This was her more than 20th Barry Manilow concert and she had loved him since she was 10.  Gigi and I felt a little sheepish admitting we were even at the concert much less that it was our first one and that we were only in Row C by the accident of a friend’s mother’s illness.

The 7:30 start time at The Chicago Theater came and went and we continued talking to Gayle.  She lived downtown and worked at a social media company.  Oh, and she told us she was a writer of sorts, secretly writing short stories about life without the courage to try to publish any of them.  I couldn’t resist.  “Gayle, you are in social media.  Of all people you know about creating a platform for writing.  You just have to start.  Start with a blog,” I suggested.

“It’s funny you say that,” she mused.  “Just this morning I went to a program on social media and the advice was that there is never a good starting point so you just have to start.  What are the chances I’d hear the very same message on the very same day.”

“The chances are very good,” I said, drawing on my own experiences with this sort of serendipity.  “When we are ready to do something, I think we get the same message many times over.  It’s just that we work very hard to ignore it.  Gayle, the universe is telling you to just start.  Take it from me, you should just get started.”

It was 8:10 p.m. and an announcer finally let us know that the concert was minutes from starting.  Gigi waved her glow stick in anticipation.  The crowd filled in while we were talking and the theater was now full.

“You know Gayle, Gigi and I were not supposed to be at this concert.  It’s only through serendipity that we are.  You want to write.  I’m in the same boat.  Maybe it wasn’t a coincidence that we connected,” I said.

Gayle nodded her agreement and handed me her card.  “Stranger things have happened.  I think I need to get started with my blog.”

The curtain rose and all lights were on Barry Manilow.  He opened with It’s a Miracle.

As the Chicago Tribune said in its review of the evening, even now he writes the songs that make his fans sing.

With so much inspiration in the air, it was nice to find some of our own.

Over and Through

I know.  I know.  I think too much.   That’s just the way it is.

“Aren’t you over that whole burned leg thing?” was the question and of course I nodded and said, “Well yeah.”  I had explored, questioned, delved, dissected and practically fried the whole topic.  This I knew.  But over it?  How can you get over things that are a part of you?  What if I didn’t want to get ‘over it’?  What if I what might seem a devastating experience actually was something I realized had positively shaped my life?

These questions swirled around like noodles in a boiling pan, like so many other thoughts I have.  They arrive simply.  Or they simply arrive.  And then they secure their place in the brain’s parking lot, coming out from time to time when prompted or when another thought crashes into them, upend them or taps them aside the head.  It’s a lot to manage.

I started yoga at the beach about a year ago.  On Saturday morning, I grabbed my pink rubbery mat and walked the sandy shore to the community center, dipping my feet in the water to gauge the temperature.  It seemed eminently swim-able.  Our yoga teacher opened the class with a laugh.  She likes to talk about smiling meditation.  That is, smiling as you do whatever it is you do.  “The heat has been intense all week and everyone has been telling me they are so over it,” she began.  “Well, you know, we never get over things but we sure get through them.  There is a difference.”

I was laying on my back on the mat.  Her comments collided with the dormant thought in my brain.  It woke me up with a jolt.  “Over, she’s talking about that concept,” my brain  spoke to me.  It was just past 9:30 a.m. and I wasn’t ready to dissect anything.

“People place too much emphasis on getting over things,” she laughed.  “We never need to do that.  Just get through them, like the heat this week and everything is alright.  We tend to make ourselves work harder than we have to.”

The class began.  Over.  Through.  Over.  Through.

It made a lot of sense.  I don’t need to get over the experience.  I got through it and grew because of it.

The thought in my head started its engine and drove out of the parking lot in my brain.  There was now room for something else.

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Who’s To Say?

Who’s to say why anyone starts or stops writing.  In my case, I’ve taken a hiatus from writing for a couple of months.  Work transition, family responsibilities, summer — it would be easy to pick any excuse but they would all be excuses.  I watched and waited for a sign to return to writing…and yet every sign that floated by wasn’t good enough or interesting enough.  I just needed a break.  Sometimes you get to close to the storyline and break can help bring perspective from the navel gazing.

Today’s sign seemed simply said, “Finish the work you started.”  I met haphazardly with a colleague who told a story of being selected from the host of attorneys at the firm.  “{He} appeared in the doorway and told me I was the only one who could handle the depositions that needed to be taken,” she told me.  Those depositions were of children, some as young as 3, burned by disposable lighter accidents.  “The worst one was the child who burned her twin and that twin died.  These parents left the lighters out – they were not good parents.”

The look of frozen shock must have been apparent on my face.  At least I thought it was but she continued on.

When you experience something so strongly, so personally, it’s almost as if you re-live it when you hear of someone else’s misfortune.

And so I’m back.  Hoping to finish the project with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

By the way, I did tell my colleague about my leg.  “I’m so sorry,” she said.  “Can I see it?”  It’s refreshing when someone is so forthright.  “I”m okay,” I said.  “Of course you can.”

From Stove to Studio

“That’s so interesting.  How did you get into acting?” is the usual comment and question I’m asked when people find out that I do voice over, tv commercials and the occasional film.  There is a long answer and a short answer.  Most people receive the short answer — I fell into it.

The long answer is the reason I write Anne on Fire.  It answers the question:  How does burning your leg on a stove at 2 years old lead one to the acting world?

From the research and interviews I’ve conducted, I learned that when my mother found me on the stove, sealed to it by the sole of my shoe and burning, I was in shock, unable to say a word or call out for help.  As time went on, my wounds healed and I was a normal kid in every respect.  Except that no one ever talked about the accident.  Without that context, I was left alone to create my own meaning for the event.

Everything might have gone on just fine, had my mother not asked me to make her two promises on her deathbed.  “Don’t fight with your sisters,” she implored, a request that seemed incredibly difficult to me as the youngest of three girls.  I reluctantly agreed.  “Use your talents.  Promise me,” she asked, as we pressed on the morphine drip that eased her pain in those final days.  That request seemed the easier of the two, especially since I’d always fancied myself as the creative one of her five children.

She passed.  Time passed.

Now and then, I would have the distinct impression that she was whispering to me from beyond.  Mostly I shrugged these moments off.  Raised as a traditional Catholic, I certainly believed in the after-life.  But the teachings were that we humans got just one shot at life, then pass on to our eternal future, where by all accounts, we  wait in joyful hope of the coming of the rest of our loved ones to the pearly gates.  There was no talk of secret messages passed along to those of us left behind.  Eternal life meant we each went along in our separate domains.  But what if she was trying to tell me something?

It was Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, old as the country itself where my cousin got married.  He asked me to do a reading at the wedding and I’d read it over many times in preparation.  Since elementary school, I had a long history of being asked to read in church and it always exhilarated me.

I climbed up to the church’s pulpit and pressed the reading flat with my hand.  And then it happened.  I looked up and somehow, some way, time was frozen.  The people in the pews were frozen.  Everything was silent and un-moving.  I didn’t talk.  I couldn’t talk.  I felt as if I’d been in this place before.   A soft whisper in my ear and I heard her, “Use your talents.  You are not doing what I asked.”

Fumbling now and with shaky hands, I looked up to see the people moving, waiting for me to begin.  I did.  I read each word slowly and carefully, feeling a powerful surge as I ended the piece.

As I stepped back down to my seat, my legs wobbled and I noticed I was sweating.  I looked around for acknowledgement but the ceremony just continued on.  Something had happened and I needed to find out what it was.

I didn’t know it then but the acting career I never thought about before was about to begin.

NEXT:  Part 2

Commercial Break

The whole topic of finding your voice sometimes needs some comic relief, a commercial break if you will.

Here is a short film intended to provide just that:  The Unity Ball Bathroom Fund-A-Cause.

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Or, feel free to take a look at the Hearing Voices Comedy series.  In this clip, “the lawyers” are trying to find their voices.

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Finding Your Voice…the Hard Way

A man and a woman performing a modern dance.

A man and a woman performing a modern dance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I don’t feel you are committing to what you are doing,” the casting agent said to me at today’s audition.  “Mess it up more.  Make it more real.  Stop caring about it so much.”  Casting direction came at me all at once and flustered me.

Of all the different things I’ve done in life, acting is one of the most challenging.  Making something real isn’t just playing a part; it’s becoming part of it.  In so many things we do in life, we can “phone it in,” or “fake it ’til we make it.”  We play a part, whether it’s in the business world or somewhere else.  We become conditioned to follow someone or some institution’s many rules.  Do this.  Do that.  Follow what the sign says.  Fit in.  Understand the culture.  To go along, get along.

Rarely are we asked to “mess it up” and express our authentic self.  In fact, most of the time, we find ways to hide what’s real about our selves.  Some days I wonder about this.

So there I was.  As the casting director worked me over, I began to sweat.  “You’re doing it as if you were looking for my approval,” she said.  She was right.  At this point, I was looking for her approval.  “Don’t do that.  Just have fun and see what comes up.  If you go too over the top, I’ll pull you back.  And don’t worry.  We have lots of time.”

In the majority of acting and voice over jobs I do, there is specific but usually gentle direction.  Yes, I’ve even been ‘accused’, criticized if you will, for having ‘too pretty’ of a voice.  Now, once you get booked on a job, the client has every incentive to get you to do what envisioned and they certainly know that they catch more flies with honey than vinegar.  Plus, you are already booked and on the job, and part of the reality is that clients don’t want to squander their investment.   If you are moving the wrong way, they will tell you.  If they want you to have more of a ‘smile’ in your read, you’ll hear it.  If they want five extra takes even when they loved the first one, you’ll do them.

But today, I was face to face with a casting professional who seemed to read my mind and know my every insecurity.  “Do you do a lot of voice over?” she asked before I could complete the first take.  I nodded.  “I can tell.  Your voice is too perfect for this.  Make it more real.  Loosen up.”

Another take and finally I saw the casting assistant raise his arms in victory.  I must have done something good but I had no idea what I had done.  “I’m sweating,” I replied when she asked how that last take felt.  “Good,” she said.  “It means you finally showed up to the audition.”

As I left the office and walked out in to the bright sunshine, I was disoriented.  Not sure where I was and so I walked, unsure whether to laugh or cry.  I’d just eaten an audition and hadn’t felt this dejected in a while.  In a way it was no big deal.  Every actor knows that you have to eat a lot of auditions along the way.

But it made me think.  Why was it so hard to find my voice today? 

I wondered.  And wondered some more.  I thought about my voiceover friend Lynne and her thyroid cancer surgery.  What would it be like to physically lose your voice when you use it for some source of income?

In many senses, my blog and my exploration to understand my childhood burn accident is all about finding my voice.  I think a great deal about the story I learned on the day of the accident.  My mother was ironing in the basement when I slipped upstairs to grab a treat from the cabinet above the stove.  Call it intuition or just mothering, but my mom noticed I was missing and went to look for me.  When she found me stuck to the stove and burning, I was silent, unable or unwilling to call out for help.  I had lost my voice.

All these many years later, I am taking the time to find it.  It’s no coincidence that I wandered my way into acting, voiceover and writing.  When one door closes, a window opens.  The older I get, the more I think about those windows.

Back to that audition.  As much as I detested the moment, I am grateful to that casting agent for pushing me.  Just imagine if we were all reminded every day to work harder to find our true voice.  It’s certainly not easy but it is good.

A Fresh Look at Illness and Death

Micrograph showing that the papillae in papill...

Micrograph showing that the papillae in papillary thyroid carcinoma are composed of cuboidal cells. H&E stain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Considering how pervasive illness and death is in our lifetimes, it still usually comes as surprise when you hear about it.

When I learned my voiceover compatriot Lynne had thyroid cancer, I gasped aloud.  When her note explained she had thyroid surgery, my eyes bulged in shock.  Now writing in her blog, Prognosis Positive, even Lynne explained that some 27 million Americans have some sort of thyroid issue.  When you think of 27 million people having a thyroid issue, it stands to reason that a someone you know would likely have a thyroid problem, even thyroid cancer.  But logical theory always seems to shock when the practical reality becomes a living, breathing person you know who has an icky disease.  The news was especially tender to me since I am one of those 27 million people with a thyroid condition (hypothyroidism) as are two of my siblings (hyperthyroidism).

And then I heard about the death of cousin Marv.  Marvin was 75 and still his death was sudden and to many of the us relatives, unexpected.  Seventy-five is a respectable and (by today’s standards) a somewhat young age to push up daisies.  Just as the news of Lynne’s thyroid cancer shocked me, so did the news of Marv’s death.

At Marv’s wake in Wisconsin, relatives and friends packed the funeral home, with an hour or more wait in line to pay respects.  Amid illness and death, everyone looked vital and healthy.  Chatter of relatives and friends filled the room, catching up, checking in, learning what was new and interesting in everyone’s lives.

“How is your book coming along?” cousin Joanne asked me when we found time to have a chat.  A little like molasses, it slowly moved forward. Of all my relatives, Joanne is among the most interesting.  Single at 50, she adopted her first daughter.  At 60, she adopted her second.  As she career as a nursing professor waned, she hung out her shingle as a solo practitioner in healing touch.  “Have you looked at the chakras affected by your accident?” she inquired.

Leave it to Joanne, in her late 70s, to remind me to look at the metaphysical issues behind illness and death.  There is always a voice to illness and even death, if you care to look deep enough.  I took her suggestion to heart and took a look at the chakras, once again.  When someone reminds you to look again, maybe it’s a voice you should hear again.

Thyroid is a 5th chakra issue.  The leg relates to the 1st, or root, chakra.  This from www.chakrahealing.com:

Fifth Chakra/Throat
Resting at the back of your throat, the throat chakra is more than just the words you speak. It is the mouthpiece by which you communicate your truths. Energy from the fifth chakra is rightly associated with a pure blue color – representing the ‘true blue’ essence of your soul. When you express your thoughts, beliefs, and opinions to others, you are sharing this essence through your energy. Appropriately, the Sanskrit word for this chakra center is vishuddha, meaning “pure place.”  All forms of human expression – including body language, spoken words, writing, dance, music, or art – profess certain truths inherent to our existence.  As we find ourselves progressing through life, we must learn to effectively communicate our ideas without bringing harm to others; simultaneously we need to be able to obtain what we want using our own words. It can be difficult to achieve a balance between speaking up and being quiet.

A person with a closed Throat Chakra might feel as though they ‘don’t speak the language’ – that is, they aren’t able to use their words to share their thoughts with others. This inhibition might stem from fear; past experiences of ridicule or embarrassment can cause some to choose to remain quiet. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some people who experience fifth chakra imbalances talk incessantly, where their fear lies in hearing silence. People that resort to lying to hide their true intentions, or to avoid hurting others also deny the energy of their Throat Chakra. Fifth chakra deficiencies can also contribute to physical ailments including bronchitis, ear infections, hearing problems, laryngitis, mouth ulcers, and tonsillitis.

1st Chakra/Root Chakra

The Root Chakra  is a flowing spring of energy which connects us to the earth and to each other. As the first of the human body’s seven energy centers it is the source of the low-frequency waves that drive our most basic survival needs, including our primal urges. In ancient Sanskrit, this place is referred to as muladhara, the foundation. It is the scarlet red Root Chakra energy emanating from the base of the spine that accounts for not only our connection to the physical aspects of our being, but also our sense of comfort, security, and belonging within the world. Beginning at birth, we are faced with situations that challenge our very existence. In these instances it is energy from the Root Chakra that feeds into the adrenal gland above the kidneys and activates our instinctual “fight-or-flight” response.

Given this role in our well-being, it is not surprising that a blocked Root Chakra center can result in difficulties meeting or moving beyond essential needs. Recurring financial struggles, weight and food issues, deep-rooted family problems, and an inability to create long-term happiness or stability are all manifestations of a deficient Root Chakra center. Blockages can also be observable as variety of physical ailments, including chronic fatigue syndrome, Epstein Barr virus, colitis, Crohn’s disease, or cancer.

So, I must ask:  Have you ever lost your voice or felt you weren’t grounded?

If we keep looking at the cause of “dis-ease” maybe then we won’t be so surprised by it.

 

The Press-Gazette Publishes its Maggie Follow-Up Story

 

St. Vincent Hospital Green Bay

“There was a great deal of interest in the story I published on Maggie,” Green Bay Press-Gazette reporter Dian Page told me after her initial column on my search for the nurse named Maggie, which was published last month.  “I’d like to do a follow-up story.  Could you pass along some information on what you found?”

It took me about a week to return calls and emails from the many people who responded.  It took an equal amount of time to process the thoughts and feelings it brought to me.  It was incredibly touching that so many people were interested in my story and my search.

Today Dian published her follow-up story, Pediatrics Nurse Remembered Fondly By Many.

Have you ever searched for someone from your past?  I’d like to hear about it.

In my Anne on Fire research, finding this much information on a “Maggie” — someone remembered but long-lost from contact — is unique.  Talking to friends, relatives, siblings, doctors and others associated with my burn experience, their memories have varied widely.   Just because the memories are vivid for me doesn’t mean they leave memorable impressions on others.  One person’s crisis is not necessarily another’s.  One person’s joy may be their own.  It’s remarkable to have the perfect shared experience as I found in my search for Maggie.

For example, when I called the doctor listed as my pediatrician, he was receptive to my call.  He had known my parents for many years and I had gone to high school with his son.  As much as he remembered our family, he had to scratch his head about me.  He certainly remember me but not the story of the burn even though it was 99% certain that he was there during the initial stages.  When I talked to my father-in-law (a retired surgeon) about his, he reminded me about the volume of work and the many sleepless night he spent doing surgery after surgery.  Of course, he remembered many of his patients and their specific stories but helped me understand how impossible it would be to remember every detail as a patient would.

All of this is what makes the Maggie story so remarkable.  From everyone I talked to and everything I learned, I know Maggie always remembered me.  As a nurse’s aid, I was told, Maggie would have had the time to spend with her little patients — unlike the duties calling the regular nurses and doctors.   And that is what people remembered about Maggie:  The time she gave to those she loved.

It’s something to know and remember about life.  The time we spend with others is the most lasting gift of all.

Paul’s 11-Cent Dare

United States penny, obverse, 2002

Image via Wikipedia

As February gives way to March, the waning gray winter days have yelped out for some inspiration.  When I read Paul Trout’s wonderful blog post, Create Your Own Luck:  The 11-cent Dare, the other day, inspiration arrived.

As Paul explained on his website blog Paul Trout Executive Consulting, “The problem with waiting for luck to happen to one’s self is very “me-centric.”  What if you could create your own luck by being others’ “unexpected serendipity”? In other words, can you create luck for yourself by helping others feel lucky?”  If you read the rest of Paul’s post, you’ll see that he does in fact create his own sense of good fortune by randomly distributing 11 pennies.

When I checked my coin purse this morning, it contained exactly 11 pennies — a true sign that I should take his 11-cent dare.  For the second time since since reading Paul’s post , inspiration had hit and I hadn’t even begun the challenge.

As readers of Anne on Fire may know, I am a penny fan.  There are encounters with serendipity, life’s little good luck charms or just small bits of encouragement.  Apparently pennies intrigue other people too — roughly 100 people have randomly visited my blog and the I Find Pennies post through Internet searches for “Finding Pennies,” and “What Do Pennies Mean?”

Like Paul Trout, I’d always been “me-centric” about pennies, wondering where they came from and what meaning they held for me.  It’s about time that I initiated the chain and scattered some random pennies.

Bunching 11 pennies in my hand, I walked outside  Along the block around my office, I dropped a penny here and there.   In the minute it took to walk to my car, I saw three people exit the job re-training center and spot a penny on the ground.  One of them leaned over and picked it up.  It felt good to see it.

“The psychological secret of opportunity is that human beings are programmed to reciprocate to those who have helped them.  But when they can’t help the person who helped them directly immediately, they often help others,” Paul wrote on his blog.

I am on my way.  Thank you Paul Trout.

Will you join in the 11-cent dare?

Finding Maggie and So Much More

Maggie Ready for Work

When I called Dian Page at the Green Bay Press Gazette a couple of weeks ago, my hope was to connect the memories in my mind.  For so many years, I have had pictures of my little self at the time of my burn accident but I’ve never been sure if these are real or “created” memories.  It can be-devil anyone to wonder about these things — did this really happen to me or have I made it up?  In my case, I need only look at the scars on my leg to know it did indeed happen.  But how and why do I remember (or think I remember) certain pieces of the experience.

That was my motivation for searching for Maggie, the Nurse.  I had no idea what I would find.  I was ready for anything.

Except perhaps for the fact that I found Maggie and a great deal more.

I didn’t set out to find someone’s Nana, someone’s mother, someone’s son, someone’s sister, someone’s friend.  And yet all these people found me and there was a quite a story to tell.

Maggie Glaser Conard was a pediatrics nurse at St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay for some 30 years until her retirement in 1987.  She did not recover from the massive stroke she suffered in 1988 and died at just 60.  “I just wanted to let tell you that your vivid description of her (Maggie) brought her back to life for me.  She was exactly as you described in everyday life; not just in work.  She was crazy about her grandchildren and she made each and every one of us feel the way you felt.  I thank you for this.  You have made my night, my week, my year,” Maggie’s granddaughter Jessi Guenther wrote me from Seattle, Washington.  Something amazing was happening.

Maggie Conard Memory CardIt continued when I spoke to Maggie’s sister, Shirley Warpinski, a retired nurse who still lives in Green Bay.  “Maggie had a gift.  Everybody loved her.  She was happy-go-lucky and always optimistic.  She was just the sweetest person,” Shirley said, telling me that Maggie was valedictorian of her high school in Luxemburg.  “Whenever she had free time at the hospital, she would go playroom and be with the children.  And oh, did she love to read.  She read to the children all time.”

There is was.  During my three-month hospitalization, I learned to read and at 3 years old, became something of a freaky genius for that day and age.  It came back to me now that Maggie had been the one by my bedside, reading to me, teaching me the letters, encouraging me on during those long days when I was confined to a crib, secured with netting so I couldn’t get out and harm my recovery.  Whether it was 15 surgeries or 20, I knew my treatment was painful and grueling.

“Yes, I remember those nets.  We had to cover the cribs for safety reasons,” shared retired Green Bay nurse Carol Mangin, who worked with Maggie for a “long, long time” at St. Vincent’s.  We talked about my third-degree burns.  “Burns are so painful.  You were lucky yours were third-degree because the nerve endings died and it would not have been as painful as first- or second-degree burns.”

“My mother cared for people for the better part of her working life,” her son Ted Conard told me.  “Caring was in our gene pool I guess since I went into that field and others in our family did too.”  After 35 years of working at Green Bay’s Curative Workshop, Ted recently retired and still lives in Green Bay.  After my discharge from St. Vincent’s, I attended therapy at the Curative Workshop for many long months, regaining flexibility in both my legs after months of inactivity and re-learning how to walk.  “You probably worked with Gloria, a therapist there,” Ted said.  “She was there forever.”

Suddenly, my memories were expanding, connecting.  They were real.

“My mom Maggie had crazy love for children.  She would come home and talk about her patients especially the ones she became close to and I’m sure she talked about you.  She would have grown really attached and her heart would have been breaking for what you were going through,” Maggie’s daughter Julie said.  “She would have thought of you like you were one of her children.”

“Maggie would be so pleased to know that you are pursuing this,” retired Green Bay nurse Mary Thomas explained when I spoke with her.  “As nurses, you touch people’s lives and then they go their own ways.  To know that you remembered, that she touched you and it meant something to you, well, that means something to all of us.”

My sister Susie, a nurse herself and professor of nursing at UWGB elaborated on that thought.  “Nurses do so many things but the human caring is what makes the difference.  This nurse cared for you, she transformed a difficult experience for a child.  In her caring for you, you were no longer alone in that room.”

Once again, what I set out to find wasn’t at all what was there.  Instead I found something deeper and richer.  Yes, I found Maggie and the memories the beautiful memories she gave me.  But now I understand the life she brought to so many people — her patients, her colleagues and friends, and her family.

Her granddaughter Jessi told me about her brother’s reaction to this unfolding story and she included it on her blog as well:

“The first thing that came to mind…is how loved ones have a way of letting us know that they’re still there, they never left to begin with.  What an awesome gift”  ~Nathan Kofler

There’s also a comment from “Carrie” following Jessi’s blog post that makes a great deal of sense to me:

“…..We have named those, God-incidences because its too perfect just to be a coincidence…..” Carrie

These “God-incidences”/coincidences have brought me this far and at every turn of this journey I’ve found something immensely beautiful.  For anyone who has gone through a fire of any kind, be it physical or psychological, we know we would never want to go through it again.  And still there are great lessons and great love to be found.  “It meant the world to me and my family to know that Maggie was loved by so many people,” her daughter Julie told me.  “What a legacy she has left.”

A legacy indeed.

Thank you Maggie Conard.  You have left behind an incredible legacy of healing and helping for so many of us.  I am grateful to be a part of it.