Everyone has something that connects them to other people, to life. For me, it is, and always has been…wait, let me back up.

If you know me, you know I have to be dragged–if not kicking and screaming, then at least majorly complaining–to any event outside of the house. No, I don’t want to meet new people. No, I don’t want to see new places. No mingling! No small chat! No sitting idly chatting after the meal is finished! Needless to say, this attitude can be a bit…inhibiting.

But there’s one way in which I can be gotten to. And every so often, I remember how that is.

Do you ever hear about something or someone repeatedly, and ignore it/them until you can’t anymore? This happens to me all the time. If you want to broach a subject or an idea successfully with me, the best way to do it is often. Tell me something once a week for weeks on end and I will procrastinate thinking about it until I’m finally ready to think about it. It’s my process. The most recent example of this starts with my sister Jennie.

For months Jennie has been talking about her high school friend Mandy, who has breast cancer. This topic is the ultimate in-one-ear-out-the-other, I don’t want to hear this, I’m not listening, la-la-la, everything’s okay kind of information. It’s easy to block this kind of conversation out. I don’t know Mandy. I’ve never met her. Don’t even know what she looks like. So I listen to Jennie’s story, nod and smile, and I can continue with my day, without truly focusing on the story and letting it affect me.

Except sometimes I think there’s somebody somewhere (up there?) who will be damned if you don’t make a connection.

A few weeks ago I started attending Moms on the Run meetings. Moms on the Run is a breast cancer run every Mother’s Day. My dad and sister are both on the Board of Directors, and I’ve been helping to get their newsletter going. At our last meeting, it was decided that we should write a story about someone battling breast cancer who Moms on the Run has helped in some way. The person we’d feature in October was decided: Jennie’s friend Mandy. I was given the task of writing a short blurb about her and her struggle with breast cancer. So tonight, after procrastinating for two weeks, I clicked on the link to her blog, where she documents her “Adventures in Chemo.”

Less than an hour later, I’d read all of her journal entries and written the short blurb for our newsletter. And there was no more “I’m not listening la-la-la” going on. There was finally connection.

Mandy is not only an amazing person, but a captivating writer. Other than the fact that I was having to read her blogs from the bottom of the page to the top so it made sense chronologically, I didn’t pause once. From her “Black Friday” in April of this year (learning she has Inflammatory Breast Cancer, which she’s nicknamed “SOB”) to her most recent post, celebrating the fact that she’s done with her chemotherapy treatment, I connected to her story:

“I’m too fly of a person to have this tagging along with me and I’m sure by now that the ‘SOB’ didn’t get the memo that my body ain’t no free ride. The ‘SOB’ has to go—it’s messing with my swagger. Since the only way the ‘SOB’ is going to leave is with Chemo and everything to follow, I’m ready to get started. Bring on the drugs!”

She gives everything nicknames, from her IV pole to people she meets in doctor’s waiting rooms (“the nasty leopard hat lady” and “the crazy chicken breast lady”, among others); calls taking one of her chemo pills “dancing with the devil” and references Twilight so many times I feel we need to be friends.

I always find it hard to tell people what kind of writer I want to be or what form I want my writing to take. But that short blurb I had to write is exactly it. It’s not only the kind of writing I want to do, but it’s the way I connect with the world. Both in the reading of her story, and the writing of mine, I remembered.

    • Jennifer O’Harra
    • September 20th, 2010

    AWWW I loved reading this. I’m so glad you FINALLY listened to me and read her blog and connected with her.
    And I love love love your writing – you know that. Love you Amosie

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