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July 9-14 Break

MourningHowdy Ranchers and Rough Writers!

Some of you might already know that my best friend Kate is dying of ovarian cancer. I spent two weeks in June with her and her daughters, grandchildren and circle of friends in Helena, Montana. It was rough, but she’s got a strong faith and a cheerful spirit. It was good to swap stories and escape the hospital a few times like we were Thelma and Louise. It was good to express our friendship and love.

After I left, Kate had a successful procedure so she could possibly go home for a short time. One of her brothers came to visit and they went through old photo albums together. We teased her about making her eat kale smoothies to get her well to which she responded she was pretty sure she had avoided kale this long in her life!

Her condition seemed like it was on an upswing. I gardened, grumbled about the heat and found respite in writing and the Moyie River.

On July 3, I called Kate to chat. She didn’t answer. I found out she had spiked yet another fever and was not going home. July 4, I scrambled to find a pet sitter because Todd got called back into work for four weeks and I couldn’t leave the GSPs at Elmira Pond without supervision (one dog is special needs and the other has a special propensity for trouble, including feuds with grizzlies).

After securing a doggy-sitter, I then convinced the Hub to drive me 300 miles to Helena on July 5. He dropped me off and then had to drive back to be home to go to work the next day. I’m grateful he did. I arrived in time.

Kate’s liver began to fail early morning July 5. She was feverish when I arrived to her room, but when Molly told her I was there she said my name with wide eyes and a slight smile. It’s gone downhill from there. She’s in a coma and we are waiting for her to pass, staying by her side. I’ve camped out in her room, sleeping on a pull-out.

Her daughters have sat vigil with me (Erin actually was the brave one who stayed with her the first night when she was still in an agitated state, not understanding what was happening). The coma has actually been a blessing, she’s peaceful though we can no longer communicate. We talk to her and hold her hand, tell her we love her and share memories.

So many have been gracious. I’ve been well-fed and the oncology nurses bring me water, tea and blankets. My emotions have felt leaden. Yesterday, I lost the ability to cry which unsettled me. Every task was excruciating, as if my brain were frozen. If my comments on stories seemed off, that is why.

Carrot Ranch, and those who join me here in sharing the writer’s journey, are a vital part of my writing. Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenges keep me on a schedule and engaged with creativity, other writers and a sense that I’m “doing something.”

That “doing something” is important to my personal motivation. No one holds us writers accountable to our dreams and goals. We write it, publish it, or we don’t. Carrot Ranch is not only a friendly place to practice craft but also a place to speak out loud our intentions. We learn from one another and keep motivated to write.

I’ve never allowed myself a break at Carrot Ranch. I’ve actually worked through many difficulties and multiple deadlines, believing that it was a symbol of my commitment. I can’t tell you how hard it is to take a break. But I simply can’t do this with my friend’s dying. It is any day, the doctor says, so every day, here I sit, listening to her rattling breath knowing it’s her because the wrist band reads her name.

So, a break it is. I will be back in full swing, because I will need the outlet and connection when I return to Elmira Pond. I’ve come to realize that writers are among the last deep communicators of this ever-increasing digitized and quickie-text world. While families are glued to personal screens and couples text on dates, writers have taken to the world wide web to keep the arts of conversation, critical thinking and literature alive.

I will return to that, to this challenge and those who write here. Thank you for sharing the writer’s journey that often reflects the journey of life. And death.

Kate, my sister of the heart, my muddy buddy, fare thee well. Go in peace.

Me & Kate & Anna

Kate, Charli & Annalyse, June 2015


  1. Be strong, Charli, but not so strong that you break in the wind, and remember to breathe when Kate forgets. May hosts of angels accompany you both on this journey, and may they also bring you back to us safely when it’s over.

    Much love, my friend, and the brightest of blessings imaginable,

  2. 💕 we will be here whenever you return

  3. Norah says:

    Thinking of you and Kate and all the loved ones that surround you in person and in spirit. It is a tough journey, but one that we all must make. Please think not of us here, but of Kate, of her family, and of yourself and yours. Sending you love, hugs and wishes for a peaceful journey. Take care, my friend. Come back when you are ready. We’ll still be here for you. xo

  4. You give so much of yourself to all of us. Take all the time you need, you owe us nothing.
    Keeping you in our thoughts <3

  5. paulamoyer says:

    Here for you, sister-mom Charli.

  6. jeanne229 says:

    My heart breaks for you Charli, as you travel the sad road of survivor and bereft friend. But my spirit flies in the face of your dedication and love. It is a wonderful thing to step up to the plate when it counts, to BE THERE in times of need, to have the heart to save yourself eternal regrets for the sake of 300 miles or watching the dogs or any number of mundane things that yes, are important, but can serve as easy excuses for not doing the necessary thing, the right thing, the ONLY thing. As for this being a break, well, so be it, though all that you are writing in your heart now will come out later in this space I am sure. Wishing you peace in your heart as you say good bye to your friend.

  7. Sarah says:

    Charli, you have been blessed to have had such a close relationship in your life. Your post has tears coming on my end. I know it will be a long time for you before things return to “normal” so I encourage you (even though you don’t need the encouragement) to keep writing. Not to share, not of your characters, unless that gives you comfort, but write in a private journal as an outlet for your grief.

  8. Bill Bennett says:

    I am praying for you and the entire situation my friend. It is hard but it will get better as time goes by. God speed.

  9. TanGental says:

    In your sad absence Charli, we’ll prick out some adverbs and dig up a few plot lines ready for your return. Take care.

  10. Sherri says:

    Dear Charli, may the peace of God surround you and Kate and bring comfort in this great hour of need. Sending love and prayers to you my friend, we will be here awaiting your return when you are ready, with open arms, smiling faces and the warmth and blessing of friendship <3

  11. Ula says:

    Oh Charli, my heart goes out to you and those around you. We will be here when you return so take all the time you need.

  12. Charli, those hugs are flying thick and fast from Australia. Something I found which gave both Annie and me some peace at the end. John told me she asked him to read it to her several times a day at the end. Perhaps it may help ease some of the pain for you also.
    I hope Kate is kept comfortable and how wonderful you and her family can be at her side. I wish you all strength as Kate takes her final journey. Lots of love and come back only when you are ready.

  13. Charli, You should take all the time you need and know that many thoughts and prayers are with you.

  14. A. E. Robson says:

    You are where you need to be, Charli.

  15. Sacha Black says:

    I am thinking of you, and sending you love and comfort from afar. I know there are few words of comfort when you suffer a loss, but know that you are in all our thoughts and we will patiently wait your return, no matter how long that is. xx

  16. Hope Kate goes to the other world in peace.

  17. Pete says:

    Wishing you and Kate a peaceful journey during this troubling time. We’ll keep you and your friend in our thoughts.

  18. ruchira says:

    You are a kind soul, Charli and blessed am I to have found ya in this virtual world of writing…

    Keeping you and Kate in my prayers

  19. mj6969 says:

    To travel through time, to wait in patience, breathing in loss, grief and anticipation of an end, that will ease suffering and pain – remember the laughter and joy, the small victories of a few weeks back, and know, that Kate – in her remarkable way – has also touched so many of us here – through your generous words – in your sharing of your life-story so entwined with hers. And so the roots are firmly planted – the tree may have given all – is ready to leave – but the saplings will continue to sprout – energized by the notes, ideas and stories you have graciously offered to us – which is inspiration that can be drawn of a truly remarkable woman’s life and journey.

    Thinking of you and Kate’s family – and Kate – and praying for all to welcome this relief, despite the sorrows and pain it will bring.

    As many here have already voiced – we are with you in spirit Charli – and you need to take care of you – in these moments – we will be here – to welcome you back – when you are ready – until then – we wait, create and perhaps, find some comfort and inspiration from understanding the beauty of a friendship marked in life well lived.

  20. julespaige says:

    Wishing all the strength they need.
    My heart and prayers to you and your friends.

  21. DMaddenMMA says:

    I have greatly enjoyed my time at Carrot Ranch with you and all the other visitors who I’ve run into. Your honesty and openness is always appreciated where I stand on my ranch, and I’ll keep you in my thoughts until you return. Talk to you soon.

  22. Annecdotist says:

    Aargh, I thought I’d already commented here to add my good wishes for you at this difficult time. I applaud your decision to take a break – although, I have to say, this is a beautifully written post despite your mind being elsewhere right now – don’t worry about the blog don’t think of your followers, we’ll be here for you when the time is right. Give all your attention to the last days of this friendship that you’ve treasured so much.
    I think part of the reason that we feel so much stress around in our modern lives is that we don’t give ourselves enough time for the inevitable sadness that life brings. Do take all the time you need (which might be more than you think you need). In the meantime, thanks for sharing with us a few moments of what’s been a beautiful friendship.

  23. Marigold says:

    Please take as much time as you need, but know that we will be here whenever you want to write again. Your prompts have taken me in directions I never would have thought of otherwise. You’ve made me creative Charli, and I’ll always be grateful to you for that. Take care.

  24. cjswriting says:

    I am new to this community, but I just wanted to say how sorry I am to hear of your friend’s illness and the difficult journey of watching someone you care for die. My thoughts are with you and everyone involved. Hugs

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