Miserable Day

Today has been miserably difficult.  There’s no particular reason why, I suppose.  But, damn, I don’t have the words to describe the deep sorrow that has pressed on my heart all day.  I certainly don’t actively look for things that remind me of her yet they light up like flares all around me.  Tonight, by myself, I watched the old movie Cast Away with Tom Hanks.  It was just full of references to Maggie and our relationship.  No kidding.  The last half of the movie, the part where he came back to his wife who had moved on assuming he was dead after the crash was just miserable. I don’t remember it being this sad the last time I watched it.  I suppose being upstairs in the TV room again, OUR TV room without her didn’t help.  The puppies are good company but my hand sure was cold and her side of the couch sure was empty.  I remember all too clearly our last meal and TV night up there.  (We had spaghetti, just like I ate tonight.)  All these lasts and firsts are just stabbing me deeply with slow blades.

Today, for some reason, my brain keeps replaying our last few hours together.  The last touches.  The last words.  The looks and kisses.  Yes, I realize I haven’t written about it yet and I will eventually.  Suffice to say it was absolutely heart wrenching.  Having it play on mental loop hasn’t been very conducive to, well, anything.

Thank you for all the confirmations about the book idea.  As I was certain, there doesn’t appear to be any doubt in your mind.  Of course, there’s a lot of hard work that separates dreams of a grand plan and admiring a great result.  A little luck comes in handy, too.  I did get feedback from one publisher who stated that the blog, while a great story, is too sad to be sold as a book.  While I’m not discouraged, it’s a signal that this will not be as simple as taking what’s written and sticking some cardboard covers around it. There’s some real work to be done here not to mention effort to find an editor and/or publisher that sees the potential.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep my feet moving.  Anyone got anything exciting going on Friday night?  I’m available.

25 thoughts on “Miserable Day

  1. Chris,

    Do not be discouraged by what one publisher, agent, or editor says. Everyone has their own preference for material. What may be depressing or too sad for one publisher’s taste is inspiring, or just how life is, to someone else. Also, your blog and all your readers is a real asset. A publisher can see for themselves that your book will sell a few copies. Just write and see where it goes.

  2. Oh, one more thought came to me. I think in your last entry you had mentioned how you read Armstrong’s book. Two books that came to my mind that did not end so happily, but were powerful literary reads that examined loss, grieving, life, love, and remembrance are Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking, where she writes about losing her husband and then less than a year later, her daughter also dies to a prolonged illness. The other book was by David Rieff, Swimming in a Sea of Death, which is a memoir about losing his mother, Susan Sontag to cancer. It might help to take a look at how these writers and others shaped their books.

    The great thing that you already have going for you is that you have found your voice and other people have responded so positively. Good luck!

  3. Chris – For what its worth, I don’t think your story is “too sad to be told”. Your story is real and contains so much love that it is beautiful. I am so grateful you have shared and continue to share it with us all.

  4. My heart hurts for you. I’ve known the profound pain of losing someone I loved, but not a spouse. I can only (maybe) imagine how much your heart aches.

    Please do press on with the plans for the book. Perhaps this isn’t the best example, but JK Rowling was repeatedly rejected by publishers who thought they knew what the public wanted. The rest, to coin a cliche, is history. Yours and Maggie’s is a beautiful love story, that is sad, but is so much more than that. Best wishes.

  5. I’m so sorry that you are hurting. I deeply wish that there was something I could say or do to help…

  6. That publisher must focus soley on a specific type of story. Although a bad comparison, look at ‘Marley & Me’ – best seller AND box office smash hit. Think ‘Philadelphia’, ‘Steel Magnolias’, ‘Lou Geherig’s Story’, and the list goes on. Every one of these were probably labeled ‘too sad’ by someone (and I bet that someone is now kicking themself squarely in the a$$ every day!!).

    Your story and the way you convey it is amazing and inspirational! Keep on keeping on.

  7. Another “sad” love story — “The Notebook”…also a bestseller and smash hit movie. The beauty in a story isn’t always a shiny happy ending, but how it touches people. I know I’ll buy your book 🙂

  8. You and Maggie’s story is sad, of course.. but it’s an amazing story about a man that loved his wife so much and stood beside her through it all.. just like the vows we take, “sickness and health” “til death do us part” I am sure it will be a “best seller”!

  9. Chris,
    Today I had a client with stage 4 brain cancer. I talked about Maggie, and then showed her Maggies picture with her forever smile.
    She thanked me for showing her Maggies picture and all she talked about was her smile, then said she will try to be more like Maggie was!……..Maggie is still helping people in her way, and so can you!

  10. Hi Chris. I suggest typing in “cancer” on Amazon and sorting by bestsellers if you ever find yourself doubting the potential of your book. Please don’t give up. I have a feeling that the ending has yet to be written. Good luck.

  11. Just wanted to echo the others who have encouraged you to keep thinking about writing a book. I have a literary agent and just finished the first draft of my first book, so I’ve been doing a lot of research on the subject.

    One thing to know if you’re even remotely considering it is that the name of the game right now in nonfiction is “platorm,” i.e. what kind of built-in market you have for your book. If you have a good platform, you can write about watching paint dry and someone will publish it. You may want to just continue to blog for right now, which would serve the dual purpose of helping you work out your thoughts and helping you build a platform for your writing (I hate to be so coldly business-like about such a deeply personal subject, but I figured you’d understand what I mean since you went to Acton). Once you have a platform in the form of your blog, which I have no doubt that you will since your writing is so powerful, I don’t think you’ll have much trouble finding an agent and/or a publisher. Feel free to email me if you have any questions about the process.

    All that aside, I am so very sorry for the grief you must be going through. Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer, for this info. It makes perfect sense – all about the customers and if they exist (and very Acton-esc.) So, while it’s not anything huge, according to Google Analytics, in the last thirty days this blog has had over 13,000 visits and over 36,000 page views all from about 2,200 unique visitors (about 300 per day, average.) The visitors were from 34 different countries with the majority coming from the United States (no big surprise there.) If I include roughly 60 days then the numbers change a bit: 41,800 visits from 52 different countries from 6,500 unique visitors who viewed 140,000 page views. The peak, of course, was the day after It happened. On May 5th, that one day, over 1,300 unique visitors in 17 countries hit the site and viewed more than 11,000 pages. That one single day. Wow. So, yeah, there’s a few people who read this blog. My little Internet podium is maybe not so little. Maybe I should watch what I say…. Nah. What fun would that be?

  12. Well my whole crew is going to Taste of Ethiopia in Plugerville on Friday night at some point. If you want to join, come on out. It will be an interesting mix of youngsters (twenty somethings) to seniors. I fall somewhere in the middle! The more the merrier. 🙂

  13. chris…don’t write a book..write your [and even maggie’s] “personal diary”…a diary is our inner-most secrets and thoughts gut-wrenchingly honest that we think no one else will ever see or know. Death is “fear of the unknown” and soooo permanent and the person dying has the nerve to be leaving “US” without our permission! Divorce without ever seeing or talking to the person again, maybe. Take up a new hobby you have never done or wanted to do before…

  14. A high school friend left a note on my facebook account about your website. I lost my husband of 10 years in january 2008 to cancer. I found that I could only put a smile on and keep trucking on for so long. You would think that 1 1/2 years later, i would be better at handling my loss. I shared a beautiful little girl with my late husband and i enjoy every moment I have with her. I can’t help but imagine that there has to be some magic answer on how to make my pain a little less hard. If you would ever like to chat with someone who knows what it is like to lose the love of your life, I am more than willing to lend an ear. I can’t promise that I will know the right thing to say or do, as I am still trying to figure that out myself. I can promise to know what it is that you are going through.

  15. Reasons I read your blog (btw, the only blog I read):

    1. The story, while painful and sad, is compelling.

    2. It is not just about Maggie, it is about her husband, who must carry on, dealing with the upheaval of his existence. Again, compelling.

    3. Raw. Real. Politically correct it is not.

    4. Funny as hell, it is.

    5. Lastly, most importantly, and the reason I decided to write again is that reading your stories, your thoughts, your heartbreaking confessions, your great analogies and ways of explaining the unexplainable…well…it makes ME feel alive. Having multiple intense emotions all at once about people you have never met is well…compelling.

    That’s why I’d buy the book. And I share an office with your sister. I’d kinda have to buy it. Or several. 🙂

    Re: the whole “story’s too sad to sell” idea. Lots of good comments already on that, but my take is…story’s not finished yet. We don’t know how it ends. There will always be grief over the loss of your best friend. Can’t get around it. But you are a remarkable person and you will be able to share with us how you are muddling through. And it will make all who read it appreciate the unbearable goodness of life, even during it’s darkest times.

    Well, that’s my 2 cents.

  16. Chris, I am so sorry for your loss. I had been following your blog for a while about 2 years ago when I first heard Maggie was ill, but life got in the way and I stopped checking your blog regularly until a few days ago when I decided to check in for an update, and to my dismay, found out about Maggie’s passing. I knew Maggie briefly when she was a Senior in high school, and she worked part time as a receptionist at our office. She was a ball of fire, and we all liked her alot. I have gone back in your blog to the day of her passing and have been tearfully reading every day to catch up. I hope you continue with your blog, and like others have stated, I hope you do write a book. You and Maggie had a wonderful life together, and there are a few lessons for all of us to take from your experiences. If you cannot find a publisher, you can do what William P. Young did when he wrote “The Shack”. This man has had his share of tragic loss and despair in his life, and he wrote this book for his family. He took his manuscript to Office Max and had them copy and bind several copies which he gave to his children. They passed his book around, and his friends loved it so much, they wanted a copy, so he had more copies made. Eventually a publisher found him, and “The Shack” ended up on the best seller list. Try it when you are ready. You can sell copies through your blog. I would certainly buy your book. Best wishes; may your future be bright, and may you always be surrounded by kind and loving people.

  17. Chris,

    I get the point about Cast Away, but what you have done with the blog is the exact opposite. I can’t think of an appropriate movie analogy, but you have brought us all together into one family. For many months, we all have shared in yours and Maggie’s joys, set backs, triumphs, and eventual loss. Reading your blog, I have laughed, empathized because I lost my mother to cancer, cried and turned introspective. You have helped us examine our relationships, not only with our loved ones but with ourselves. I have learned from both you and Maggie even though I am older than either of you. I have learned from Maggie how to live each day as if it’s my last because someday I’m going to be right. I have learned from you that love is unconditional and all those other things Professor Powell said about love at Maggie’s Memorial Service (I think someone else said them first, but they still struck home. ) I’m honored to have Maggie’s painting of Galway, Ireland hanging in my office. When I researched Galway I learned that it is the cultural heart of Ireland and is renowned for its vibrant lifestyle, festivals and cultural events (sound like someone who lives on in our hearts). Book or not, your words on these pages will live on in my heart and mind much longer than anything you ever formally publish. Thanks for sharing your life and love with each of us and we all should be so open and honest. Thanks to you and Maggie both for helping each of us look at life from a different perspective. Your friend,
    Jeff Manske

  18. If going through a publishing house does not work out, you could explore self-publishing or print on demand.

  19. I don’t think I would like the book if you made it less sad. That’s kind of the point isn’t it? Not sure what a more upbeat tale would be. Your blog is compelling because it is so real. I think people can relate to REAL. We don’t need fairy stories. I would buy your book in a heartbeat, I practically know all your entries by heart anyways.

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