A Tale of Two Packages

It’s May! It’s May! The month of “Yes, you may.”

If you’re a fan of Camelot, then you probably recognized that line. And if you’re not…well, I don’t know what to say. I mean, who isn’t a fan of Julie Andrews and all those dazzling lyrics from Lerner and Lowe?

2014-05-01 09.32.15So…yesterday, I received two packages. Inside one was a watch. Not just any watch. A watch I’d given a friend.

And when I saw that watch, I wanted to cry. You see, my friend is suffering from Parkinson’s Plus. My wonderfully witty, smart and professional and generous friend is wheelchair bound now and living in a nursing home. She is not quite a year older than me, and she is divesting herself of her worldly goods, returning gifts to long-time friends and family.

The other package I received was a contract. It’s a contract from a Korean company that publishes in the education market and I’d just completed a book for 4th graders. And though I’m glad to have this opportunity, I hadn’t thought of making a big deal about it because…because it’s the education market, I guess.

My heart is breaking, thinking of my friend, her mind sharp as a tack while her body breaks down. I held that watch, feeling a little bit angry, a little bit guilty. Why must she suffer so? And how can I go on my merry way when others are suffering?

And then suddenly, I felt a lot guilty.

I sort of did choke up a bit then, washed in shame as it were, with the realization that my friend hadn’t just returned a watch; she’d given me a slap upside the head. A reminder to appreciate the gifts given to us, and to make those God-given gifts count every minute of the precious time we have.

2014-05-01 09.31.11And so today, I’m singing with gratitude in my heart. I have a contract for a book! A book with my very own byline! And someday, a Korean student might read my book and learn to speak English just a little bit better because he or she enjoyed my story!

It’s May, it’s May! The month of “Yes, you may.”


23 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Packages

  1. So sorry for your friend, Cathy, and for you. Such a hard thing to bear. But I’m rejoicing with you over your book contract, too. Sometimes I wonder if we don’t get these things in pairs–bad and good–to keep us focused on what’s important. I just finalized negotiations on my first book contract as an agent on the day a young man went into the place my son works and shot six people before killing himself. So I get that bit about wondering if you’re supposed to celebrate while people are suffering. People are dying in tornadoes for Pete’s sake. Am I supposed to be happy over a small book sale? Yes, I am. And you are.

    I think the painful things actually make us enjoy the good things in a deeper way and in a way that is more fitting. It’s not about how much money we make on a deal or about how much fame we get. It’s about whether or not we did a good job today. Because how many days will we have here on earth? We don’t know. So we do a good job each day and we rejoice when we see the fruits of our labors. It is the right thing to do.

    So what are you doing to celebrate your sale? Is Mr. Hall taking you out?

    Congratulations on the book contract! YAY!!!

  2. I’m sorry for the loss of your friend…because she will never be the same friend you had in the past.

    But I’m thrilled I can say I know the INTERNATIONALLY known writer,, Cathy C. Hall. Congratulations.

    • Aw, thanks, Sioux. Shucks, it was nothing. 🙂

      As for my friend, you’re right. She’s not the same–she’s more courageous, more faith-filled than I ever imagined. It’s a privilege, knowing her at this time of her life.

  3. I experienced such a myriad of emotions as I read your post today … heartbreak to hear of your friends health; excitement to hear of your book deal; and thankfulness for a perfectly timed message! Have a great day, Cathy.

  4. It is always good and right to celebrate the happy things and a book contract that will spread international literacy is a very, VERY happy thing. Yay you! I’ve been mentoring a friend of mine as he works to rewrite/edit a non-fiction manuscript about his near death experience in childhood. When I’m reading about his journey, my heart sings because the theme of his book, the message he came back with, was that the whole purpose of life is love. It’s not a cliche. Whether we have a few years or a hundred here on Earth, spreading love is everything! Writing stories and sharing stories and improiving literacy/communications between two countries…IMO that is pure LOVE. (PS – And YAY for Sally too!!)

  5. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. Prayers her way. What a bitter-sweet gift the watch was for you.

    But I’m so glad you allowed it to move you into a place of gratitude for where life is leading you. That’s probably the take-away we all need to remember.

    • Julie, the last time I visited her, she returned a medal of the Holy Spirit (I’d worn it for many years, and when she became a Catholic, I passed it along to her.) and I didn’t want to take it back. But she wanted my daughter to have it. The watch, though…I will keep. I need that daily reminder.

      Thanks for the prayers!

  6. I am sorry your friend is facing this difficult struggle. She is blessed to have you to help her through it. I’m sure she will be thrilled to hear that you are not only realizing the next part of your writing dream, but sharing your talent with children around the world. I understand what you mean about the educational market, but I guess that’s what’s wrong with our vision. It should be all about the kids, shouldn’t it? What better way to be published than a story which educates?

    • Thank you, Joanne. Yes, I’m not sure why the education market seems somehow “less” than traditional publishing. Maybe because the books are not up on those B & N shelves? But of course, it IS about the kids and as I was once a teacher, I’m very happy to put those hard-earned skills to use again!

  7. Sorry to hear about your friend. Yes, cherish each moment and day. Congratulations on your contract w/a Korean publisher!

  8. It is so difficult to watch a dear friend slipping away. You’ve seen on FB that last month, one of my dearest passed. I am grateful for the time we had together. Hold your good memories close and they will help you handle the tough moments.

    I think Sally has an insightful observation about the intertwining of happy and sad times in our lives. Having something wonderful happening helps lighten the heavy heart. While my sister and I are distressed about our mom’s fall and the ramifications, we are also overjoyed that my nephew is graduating college and has a job offer and potentially another one tomorrow.

    So don’t be uncomfortable proclaiming joy about the contract. Your friend would be clapping for you if she could. Onward good writer, onward toward more joy!

  9. Cathy, my heart breaks for you and your friend. I am also dealing with a similar situation. Although my friend has dementia, I write her every week. You will find a way to stay connected to your friend as well. God bless her and you too. Congratulations on your publication. This IS something to brag about, girl.

  10. A friend of mine, a few years younger than me with two young kids, has ataxia. If I understand it correctly, it’s a disease that’s “related” to Parkinsons. I’m always amazed and inspired by her grace under pressure. Her body is weak, but mentally she’s so strong. It does have a way of making me feel like my successes and failures pale in comparison. I could really relate to this post, and felt your conflicting emotions, too. But you are absolutely right to celebrate every joy along the way, because as you well know (and as your friend would surely agree) life is a gift. I’m so happy for you and your contract, and am sending big congratulations to you along with heartfelt prayers and a hug or two.

  11. Ah, Camelot! I always think of the movie version first and the real life love story between Vanessa Redgrave (Lady Guinevere) and Franco Nero (Sir Lancelot). That is one of my all time favorite soundtracks, right behind the sound of Music. 🙂 Congrats on your contract! And . . . I’m so sorry about your friend, and that you are hurting. Bittersweet, I know—the memories that come are precious, but the pain of the circumstance is sharp. The good thing, maybe the best thing, is that no matter what happens, the love stays. That never leaves us, and it is the one thing that makes it a little easier to get through the aching. Wishing you every blessing.

  12. Hi Cathy,

    I’m truly sorry to hear about your dear friend’s illness. She sounds like a brave woman, and what a kind and thoughtful gesture to return the watch to you. I understand your bittersweet emotions on a day where great sadness is tempered by promise and hope,

    Congratulations on your Korean contract; I know your book will be great!

    And I love Camelot, the movie and the idea of a magical place. So, now I can’t stop thinking about the lovely month of May, and Camelot–where July and August cannot be too hot. Maybe that’s how it is in heaven?

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