I've been Spanish teacher, full time mother, businesswoman, and writer, trying to make sense of disasters such as schizophrenia and drug overdose. Now I share what I've learned with the world. I feel compelled to create; often a sudden inspiration while I am driving requires that I stop and jot it down. A phrase, an urgent new expression of a belief, a moment of sorrow, a truth. Scraps of scribbled paper beg life as a poem or essay. A series of inspirations becomes a book. I love beautiful sentences, a carefully crafted image, the aha! moments when writing something I never knew before.
My younger brother Paul was more than a "schizophrenic." He was a brother, a son, and above all, a person that my eight siblings and I loved. My family had lived with Paul's mental illness for years, and I had grown used to his strange stories (like asserting that he'd been shot in the head) and his sometimes frightening behavior. It wasn't until his care -- and his treatments for lung cancer -- started taking more and more of my attention that I realized his story demanded to be written.
When my 19 year old nephew died of a drug overdose, I could hardly comprehend what had happened. In the dizzying next 18 months, two dear friends also died. I lost interest in other writing projects, and I found myself writing from sorrow. How do I make sense of my life in the face of death's inevitability? How do any of us?