Sunday, August 21, 2011

Some Assembly Required

Last year after Ken had surgery and was recovering from 12 weeks of chemo, we were optimistic about the future. So much so, I decided to write a book, documenting everything he and I had gone through. As a chronic journaler who keeps a detailed calendar and diary, I had plenty to draw upon. I began pounding away at the keyboard in the evenings--sometimes in my office if he was sleeping--and sometimes sitting on the couch with him in the living room as we watched TV and talked. When I explained what I was doing, he said he wanted to write a book about it too. He'd already written a one-man show called "My Foot Left" that was well-received by audiences in Chicago and Los Angeles. I suggested we collaborate. It's something that we've always done well together. To get him started, I sent him what I'd written so we could figure out if I was going in the right direction or if we needed to make some tweaks.

As the summer wore on and August approached, bringing with it another diagnosis that ultimately had no curative measure, the book fell to the sidelines for both of us. I still journaled--a lot--but I thought I knew the ending to the book I was writing and went very much along the lines of "they lived happily ever after…" Endings in general were something I stopped thinking about it. We were both facing one that we didn't want to come.

In recent weeks I've looked over the draft I started because I was ready for it became important to me again. To tell our story…to tell Ken's extraordinary story. After meeting with Claire last week, and receiving so much encouragement from her to continue pursuing this, it has been in the forefront of my mind.

So, this evening, I pulled out the external hard drive that I'd recently pulled most of the documents from Ken's computer onto and sat on the couch going through them. Never really regarding himself as a writer, I was stunned by the prolific amounts of writings I found--many of which I'd never seen before. It stung a little bit at first, but mostly it was fascinating and made me so proud. That he'd knowingly or not, left so much of himself in these writings to help me tell our story. I could hear him read each and every word, and it made me smile.

I was overwhelmed trying to figure out how to organize all the potential pieces that would be included but I set up a system that will work for now. Once I have most of what was on his computer, I'll go back to structuring and seeing how it would best serve the story. Aside from that, I have old diaries of both of ours to go through which I'm kind of excited about in a very I-shouldn't-be-doing-this kind of way. But as a journal, I know there is gold in them there mines.

But my mood all evening was focused and happy as I worked to gather the pieces he'd written. It's exciting that I can still do this for him--for us, and share something that has to be shared. It's not so much I feel that I owe it to him, but that I owe it to myself in order to honor him and his extraordinary outlook and legacy. It will take a lot of time to put it together, but it's a project I'm really looking forward to tackling and doing it well.

Another way, I suppos, I can make sure he isn't forgotten--if that's even possible.


  1. So exciting. That's going to be the best book ever.

  2. I remember talking to you about this project last summer. I was excited for it then, and I am still excited for it now. I know there is no one better in the world that will be able to tell a story as lovely as yours. I can't wait until you need a beta! :)