Back in late 2002 my friend Alana and I were chatting (via ICU instant messenger magic of the early aughts) about writing. I was wanting to do more creative writing but I was struggling to do it. She told me about this new online journaling thing people were doing called Blogging. She suggested that maybe a new format with an audience as big or as small as the growing internet might inspire me. She helped me set up my first blog which was probably on Blogger or some other very generic easy template sort of program. This was the beginning of a very important part of my life. I didn’t know it at the time. That seems to always be the way, right? We only know that a time period is important in retrospect. A whole new world of bloggers opened up to me. It was a pretty small world back then and I was blessed with finding some really amazing people during what we now amusingly call The Golden Age of Blogging. What I was hoping for happened, though not in exactly the way I thought it would, but nonetheless…I started writing. Writing on a regular basis. I met other writer in the blogging world. I made friends in the blogging world. Good friends. People I went on to meet in real life and am blessed to still be friends with to this day. Alana always encouraged me to keep on writing. She was an early participant in my yearly writing adventure every October (Writober). When she was doing stand up we’d sometimes write jokes together either though IM or email. She always had positive suggestions for me when I would get frustrated with myself for my chronic procrastination. If those didn’t help she would make fun of me in the best possible way so that I would laugh and stop taking it all so damn seriously. There were years when she would do tarot readings for me over the phone and I swear every single time I would ask some question about what I should be doing or if it was time to change jobs or how I could solve money problems it would always end up right back at Alana saying, “yeeeeaaahh ya know it seems like you should be writing”. Over the years, Alana and I discussed everything at some point or other. We talked about relationships, sex, politics, staying flexible both physically and emotionally, annoying co-workers, cats, puppy dog noses, and writing.
When Alana got diagnosed with Stage Four Cancer two years ago I felt my heart break. But, as Patrick Rothfuss wrote, “broken isn’t shattered.”
Last Monday it became clear that Alana had fought all she could and was slowly leaving her body. That same day I got a notice from a professional writer that that I am fond of that she was teaching an online novel writing class. I’ve never taken a writing class of any kind. Not even in college, though heaven knows I should have. I clicked over to the website for the class and read about how the whole thing worked, only 8 people in a class, 8 weeks long, must submit writing twice over the 8 weeks for crit and must do crit for other classmates writing. I clicked to her specific class and saw it was starting THAT DAY…and there were two spots open.
I thought about Alana. About how she spent the last two years fighting that fucking disease and doing it with so much humor and grace and creativity. She made a goddamned short film in the last year that is currently showing up in film festivals all over the country, while fighting fucking cancer. I knew if I could ask her about taking the class she would have said, “Yes, you should…right now.” So I paid the money and signed up.
At 7:20 this morning my sweet funny friend Alana left this world.
Her name will be forever carved into my heart.
And I am writing.