by Anna Huckabee Tull
Each month, for the first twelve months after Marie Pechet’s passing, I will carry her Blog forward, sharing about Marie in ways that I hope you will find meaningful, connective, and honoring of our shared friend.
Marie had a dream, and it didn’t end up coming true.
And yet, in the strange twinning of my friendship with her, this week her dream is coming true for me.
Marie had the dream of writing a book.
At first it was just a loosely held notion. But in the months and then years that she began emailing regular updates to a small collective of “Fertility Group” friends, and then emailing to even more friends whose names got added to that list, and then expanding into a Blog, which hundreds of you began to closely follow, she started to feel a hunger growing within her to shape those many entries into a “Real Book” that could become not just the story of her journey, but a way of capturing the very best of her message to the world.
She confided to me that this felt important to her. She and I worked together on creating a book outline for her. She met with an editor. We played with various titles and ways of sharing her story. It began to take shape. And then, just like that, it got edged out of the picture, by life, by illness and, eventually, by her passing.
At the same time, I too was working on a book. Marie would write me notes of encouragement, ask how it was going, buck me up with positive words when the writing got tough, and congratulate me when I hit various milestones. She brought me as her guest to a writing convention at her beloved Grub Street, the prestigious writer’s hub here in Boston of which she was an ardent supporter. And when I won a publishing contest and contract for the book proposal I had written, she came to my “Oh My Gosh Now I Really Have to Write a Book” party two years ago, sat in the front row, and beamed up at me as I performed her song, The Days of Your Opening, as part of the celebration. I shared that song on that particular night because of all the songs I have ever written (250 to be exact) it felt–and still feels–like the one that best captures the message of the book I was setting out to complete. It was the song, a countable number of seasons later, that I would also perform at her funeral.
Marie did not live to see her own book idea come to fruition. And she didn’t live to see mine become real either.
But even so, at each twist and turn in the road, I feel her cheering me on. And today, the dream is real.
This weekend is my first book launch party. There is another one next weekend, and soon I will be reading from my book and speaking and singing in Washington DC as the first leg of my book tour. Three nights from now, I will be performing her song as the kick-off to my book being shared with the world.
And all this month, as the launch roles out, I will be feeling a complex mix of things. Excitement–something I worked hard for has come to pass. Joy–a chance to celebrate with others. Relief–I made it to the finish line! Uncertainty–I am new to this “published book” world, and unsure about the exact steps of it. And also, there is this other feeling, that brings a tear to my eye. Where is my friend? Why does my book get to come to life when hers does not? How is that I have the strength to tour and share it, and she did not? The feeling I feel is not sadness, exactly. I imagine Marie, wherever she is, is happy for me. I know she’s smiling to herself, to see that the guitarist she introduced me to as we prepared songs for her memorial service, Mickey Zibello, has turned into a dear friend, who is not only attending my book launch, but is performing and singing alongside me to help me bring it all to life.
I think the word I am looking for is Bittersweet. At some point it must have occurred to Marie that she was not going to finish her book. Perhaps it was the day she asked me if I would write her final Blog entry. Perhaps it was earlier than that. Or maybe it was not until much later. But whenever it was, she kept cheering me on, right up through her final days.
Something within me feels like I am crossing the finish line for both of us.
I hope I have done her proud. I hope my new book, Living the Deeper YES, is a book people will read and love, share and talk about, feel moved by. I know for sure that our messages, Marie’s and mine, were and remain intertwined. My book is about choosing to invite in the wonder all around you. It’s about learning to transform moments of upset into fuel, to help you look deeper within yourself for your own truth. And it’s about how things can shift when you learn to regularly honor that truest, wisest, strongest voice that lives within you and within each of us.
I invite you to read “our” book–the one that was so deeply impacted and spurred on by my friendship with Marie. In this one area, I walk for both of us now. So as I look around the room when I perform her song in a few nights, as I take in the wonder of what it means to have had the supreme luxury of staying with my dream and seeing it through, I will embrace the experience on behalf of myself and of Marie.
Will you please join me in taking a moment to feel thankful for her and her role in this journey with me? I have learned that writing a book is not something you do alone. The real journey is in the connections along the way, and my connection with Marie is a big part of why this book exists today.
It would be my deep honor if some of you would choose to read my book, and it will not surprise me a bit if you write to tell me you can feel her in its pages.
~Anna Huckabee Tull