From my heart

December 2, 2016

essayNot many people write an essay in their heads while standing at their kitchen stove.  But such was the case in 2010, when I was cooking regularly for a dear friend who was very sick. So sick that I thought she would die any day. I measured, poured, stirred, simmered even as an essay simmered in my head.

When my heart is full I have to write. It doesn’t matter if I place the essay. It doesn’t even matter if it’s good.  It just matters that I write it. And so, after making a pot of black beans and rice for her, I sat down and wrote. And wrote.

As life went on–hers and mine– I forgot about it. It sat on my hard drive, untouched.

And then, five years later, she died.

That was almost a year ago and I can’t remember how I even went back to the piece, but I did.  My first thought was, “Wow, she had five more years when I wrote that.”  My second was “I can finish it now.”  And with many tears and tissues, I did.

And I knew I was going to find a home for it, because 1) it was good and 2) I wanted to honor my dear friend. Who always loved my pieces.

So I did.  I finished it and sent it to a freelance editor I like to use for pieces I’m going to send out for consideration.  Because when you write personal essays, as I do, you’re usually too close to them to have an unbiased eye.  She suggested some edits; I took most of them. Yes, it’s true. I went to journalism school, I had an entire writing career in corporate communications, I have been writing for publication since I was 16 and I’m still a freelance journalist and essayist, I KNOW that I’m a good writer–and STILL, I use an editor for important personal essays. And appreciate great editing.

Serendipitously, I saw a call-for-submissions from an anthology focused on the middle years, that time in life when we’re caught between life and loss.  I knew this was the place for the essay and it was accepted shortly after I submitted it.

essayI’m thrilled to tell you that the anthology, Here in the Middle, stories of love, loss and connection from the ones sandwiched in between, is now available for purchase.  And there, in that book of beautiful and moving essays, is mine:  We Cook: for Marilyn. Published almost a year after she passed.  Here’s the website for the book.


Us. I’m the taller.

On December 20th, we’ll remember Marilyn on what would have been her 76th birthday. What a young 75 she was when she died! And on December 27, the first anniversary of her death, I will do a personal ritual to remember her. But really, the big thing is that she’s now memorialized forever in that essay, in that book, in print.

I’d love to share the essay with you here, but the publisher owns the rights for a couple of years, so I can’t. Never fear–you can read it and a whole bunch of other really good essays when you buy the book. It’s the perfect book for those cold winter days in front of a fireplace.  What a great gift it will make–for your mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, best friend–it’s a collection of pieces meant to be savored and that means it’s a good vacation or even bedside table book.  Amazon will send copies directly to your recipients, so it’s an easy gift, too.

The quality of writing in this anthology is so high that I’m super-proud to have my piece in it.  I promise you won’t be disappointed. And of course, I’d love to hear what you thought of my piece.

Here’s what author Vikki Claflin said about it:  “Here in the Middle is a beautiful and moving compilation of essays about navigating the fine line between the needs of our children (even as adults) and the needs of our aging parents, while simultaneously trying to take care of our own. The stories are deeply personal, honest, and often poignant, with just enough humor to give us hope. It’s a book you’ll come back to again and again. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. But most of all, you’ll relate. Buy it, love it, and share it.”

Want to know more? Here’s the website and it includes author bios. We’d love for you to leave an Amazon review, by the way. Available now on Amazon here. Enjoy!


47 comments on “From my heart
  1. Ryder Ziebarth says:

    congrats! What a nice post, and an even nicer gesture toward your friend.

  2. I saw the book on another blogger’s post today Carol – I think it’s going to be a big hit with other midlifers by the sound of the essays it contains. Congrats on being one of them.

  3. Carol, I’m so honored you submitted your beautiful story. It offers a unique perspective that we were hoping to get. We read it and said, YES! without hesitation. Absolutely stunning and heartbreaking, yet . . . hope and light, too. Wonderful to have you along on this incredible journey.

    • I was so honored to among some of the best writers I’ve read, Julie. The fact that the book came out almost exactly a year from her death, well, no coincidences. At all. Love the whole concept of the book and do believe it’s a wonderful gift book. I’ll be giving it out, for sure, this month!

  4. Lovely synchronicity Carol! I’m sure your essay is wonderful…I’m writing one slowly right now about how cooking is the best time to think about everything!

  5. What a beautiful tribute to a friend that I know you loved dearly. I’ve lost two of my very best friends (one to suicide and the other to a stroke at 41) and I miss them every single day. I hope that this has helped you heal your heart even if just a little bit.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Awesome Carol! This book will be in my Christmas list. Your writing always moves me

  7. I seem to live on the brink of tears these days, and this toppled me over. I’m headed to Amazon!

  8. Diane says:

    I LOVE this book! Every. Single. Story.
    Lots of tears here.

  9. Vyjay says:

    A real tribute to a friend. A poignant post and so happy you have the book out. Words are indeed like a fountain, they emerge in a steady flow and need to be written whenever and wherever.

  10. Barbara says:

    I’ll be including this on my Christmas list, Carol. Looking forward to reading it.

  11. Lisa J Lewis says:

    What a blessing to have completed your special essay, and have it published in this anthology! I am going to add it to my wish list! (Am a big fan of Vikki!)

  12. Angela says:

    What a lovely idea, and a good way to hold on to those memories. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  13. Chloe says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your friend, I’m so glad you went back and completed it.

  14. Erlene Amat says:

    I’m at that stage in life where I seem to be the sandwiched in between and dealing with a lot of loss. I’m sure I’ll be able to identify will all of the stories in this book.

  15. Wow this is so sweet. What a great way to honor your friend.

  16. I’m so sorry for your loss. Please stay strong.

  17. Joan Stommen says:

    Congrats, Carol…I remember the beautiful posts you wrote last year about your beloved friend. So happy your essay…aged to perfection…found the perfect home!

  18. Rose says:

    I am sorry for your loss. It is great that you finished and submitted it. We all are not so lucky to have a supportive cheerleader. I’m sure she’s very proud of your accomplishments.

  19. Carol – this is the book you were telling me about. It sounds so lovely and I know your essay is wonderful. What a fitting book for this time of life! I’ll have to get it!

  20. Congrats on the publication! It sounds like a beautiful piece. I need to check out this anthology.

  21. Being able to express ourselves is such a gift. I would think, that of anything you may have published,this piece would mean the most because it’s so personal. Kudos to you for it being published.

  22. Nlaudia says:

    Wow , Congratulations !!! I will certainly read this book. I have lost my best friend many years ago. She only made it to 46, the cancer had spread all through. Reading your post has brought back some lovely and some really sad memories.I used to cook for her and looked after her until her very last breath.Your words are very touching,looking forward to reading the book.

  23. Heather says:

    So glad you got your piece published! It sounds beautiful and compelling. Truth be told, I haven’t thought much about what those years would be like. I think as my kids get older and we all get older, I will.

  24. Tyler says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, it’s very inspiring!

  25. Myteenguide says:

    What a beautiful story by you! I like this one i’m so inspired really great story. Thanks for sharing this to us.

  26. Jelena says:

    Congratulations! This is beautiful! I love the way you write

  27. Bill S says:

    This sounds like a great book!!! I am always looking for new book recommendations for reading while traveling.

  28. I’m glad you found the perfect place to have the piece published! Thank you for sharing your heart!

  29. Ashlea says:

    Congratulations!! I know you must be thrilled. What a great way to honour your friends memory.

  30. jill conyers says:

    Congratulations! That is so exciting. I’m a big believer in things happen for a reason. The what AND the when.

  31. Elizabeth O. says:

    What a nice idea for a compilation of stories and essays. Congratulations on being part of it! I’m thrilled for you and I hope a lot of people will be able to read and appreciate the book. It sounds amazing!

  32. MilicA says:

    Such a nice post! Your friend will always live through your essey!

  33. How awesome! I’m glad you got it published I have to check it out!!

  34. Maya angelous’s most famous quote is “the greatest agony is bearing a story untold.”
    I totally understand that you need to write out your essay no matter what.

  35. Congrats on getting published. I’m so sorry about your loss.

  36. Such beautiful words about a lovely woman. I know the feeling of wanting to write it out all when your heart is full. Sometimes we hold on to so many emotions that when we spill them, we feel ourselves become almost weightless.

  37. Michael says:

    This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing such a tender devotion.

  38. Abigail says:

    Wonderful post, very heart warming

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