Death of a Blog Reader

I never got a chance to meet Mildred Gordon, but she became a dear friend.

About a year ago, I noticed that she was liking all my blog posts on my Facebook page. Didn’t know who she was or why she had liked my page. I didn’t know why she read my blog posts, but every day, I got a notice from FB that “Mildred Gordon” had liked my post. I didn’t think she ever left comments, but one day (I’m ashamed to admit that it took me a long time) I realized that the woman named “sumalama” who left comments on my blog was the same as the woman on Facebook who “liked” my posts.

geraniumsShe became one of my staunchest supporters, liked the idea of my embracing adventure, loved that I danced. She offered me a couch whenever I needed one.

To be honest, although I “knew” her, I didn’t know much about her, just what I gleaned from her comments. She once commented that someone had recommended she read my grief posts, and she was glad they did. And so our connection began.

Another time, she wrote: “Pat Bertram, you matter because when I read your blog posts I can forget about my problems and just get lost in your words. Thank you. Please keep writing!” Later, through other comments, I got an inkling of what those problems were: “Friends and family are getting me through metastasis bone cancer. Wish they weren’t so sad for me…I’ve lived a long and happy and adventurous life!”

“Dance for you is what Tai Chi is for me. Even though I can no longer do it, just thinking of the different forms calms me, relaxes me, brings me peace. Lying in my bed, I can imagine myself flowing through the forms, like a slow motion dance, and I am one with it.”

And I learned a bit about her adventures: “Pat, one step at a time. I have started over many times and that’s how I’ve always done it. And I’ve done it alone, with small children. I am not worried about you, now that you have the dance to feed your being.

The kids and I lived homeless in another country for 6 months, many years ago when they were 5, 4, and a newborn. It wasn’t easy. But we survived. And are the better for it. And now this new journey of mine, with cancer, has my friends worried/bothered for me like your friends are for you.

Let them worry, let them be bothered. It’s their choice. Me? I am truly excited for you and can hardly wait to see what your blog shares about the new life you will form!

Best of luck and have fun! Hugs, Millie

And then suddenly, the “like”s and comments stopped. Worried, I emailed her, using the email address she’d used for WordPress comments, but got no response. I didn’t really expect any — any time I’d contacted someone via such an email, I got no reply, as if perhaps I had stepped over a boundary I shouldn’t have.

Today I checked her Facebook profile, hoping to find an explanation. And I did.

Mildred died on May 20th. A celebration of her life was held on May 31st, while I was dancing on stage. Although I didn’t know about the service at the time, my dancing was a much better memorial to her than the tears that are now blurring my eyes.

I’m sorry I never got to meet ”sumalama.” (Sorry I never asked what that meant.) But I am so very glad we connected.

Thank you, Millie, for enriching my life. Best of luck and have fun! Hugs, Pat


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Finding Time to Write

I’ve been trying to get back into writing, but I never seem to able to find the time. There are always so many things that need to be done. Take yesterday, for example. I started out the morning answering emails. I don’t get as many emails as most people, but still, writing responses to the ones that required my attention took me over an hour.

Then I wrote a simple blog post. It was a recap of on online discussion, so it shouldn’t have taken me long, but it did. I’ve heard that people should allocate twenty minutes to updating their blogs, but somehow, my twenty-minute blogs end up taking hours. Writing is how I think, and sometimes it takes a while for the thoughts to coalesce. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right words to express the thoughts. And sometimes it takes a while to edit and copyedit the article to make sure it’s readable and that my point is clear. All those “a while”s added up to three hours yesterday.

When I finally posted the blog, I took time out for a walk and a meal, then I returned to the computer and had an email conversation with a friend who had also suffered the loss of her mate. Since she seems to have reached a place of peace, I wanted to know how she did it. I know I can go on alone since I am doing it, but the thing that still makes me feel as if I’m about to fall off the earth is that he is dead. No matter how well I do, no matter how much peace I attain, he will always be dead. Of course she had no answers for me — one person’s way of learning to live without is not the same as another’s — but she did say something that struck a chord: “the world comes back.” This was an important conversation for me, and I’m glad I had the time to spend, but still, writing my side of the exchange took a couple of hours.

I love comments on my blog, and always enjoy communicating with those who do comment, but that takes time. Yesterday evening, it took me almost an hour to write my responses.

And finally, Facebook. Need I say more? Well, maybe I do. I had several messages that required replies, discussions that needed input, updates that cried out for comments. In all, that added a couple more hours of writing to my writing time.

That’s when I realized why I have no time to write — I spend all my time writing! So, to find time to write, all I need to do is stop writing.

Even Comment Spam Can Sometimes be Tasty

Spammers have discovered one of my more obscure blogs, but some of the spammers got wise — instead of the usual gibberish (which I was going to post here to show you how totally giberishy it is, but decided I’d better not attract their attention) these spammers post quotes, and it works! I don’t delete them. Just goes to show that not everything is all bad, not even comment spam. So, here are a few of the quotes left on the blog, author unknown (at least to me):

I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with typewriters.

The ‘Net is a waste of time, and that’s exactly what’s right about it.

God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.

Memory feeds imagination.

To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all.

Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.

Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.

The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletarian to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeois.

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it’s important.

Get pleasure out of life…as much as you can. Nobody ever died from pleasure.

In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears. Things are not only what they are. They are, in very important respects, what they seem to be.

On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done just as easily lying down.

The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.

Temptation rarely comes in working hours. It is in their leisure time that men are made or marred.

I write because I’m afraid to say some things out loud.

As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it.

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.

Part of being creative is learning how to protect your freedom. That includes freedom from avarice.

Claire Made Me Do It

I have a confession to make: I seldom leave comments on the blogs I visit. Mostly I don’t want to sound like an idiot (or a spammer) and say: Thanks for sharing, though sometimes that is exactly what I want to say — so many bloggers write fantastic and helpful articles.  Occasionally I don’t understand the repartee going on in the comments, so I skulk away without leaving my mark. And all too often I don’t have the time to come up with something witty, clever, or even passably intelligent to write. Every task on the Internet takes way more time than it should, so I always seem to be scurrying from one link to another, one discussion to another, one blog to another.

And I don’t always respond to comments left on my own blog, either. Some bloggers respond to every single remark. Some don’t respond to any. I fall in the middle. It’s a question of hospitality. As the host, do I let the guest have the last word? Or do I acknowledge their comment with one of my own?

Last night I was discussing blogging with a fellow author at Second Wind Publishing, LLC, one who has developed a blog following in a very short span of time. How did she do it? By finding humorous blogs she liked and leaving a trail of comments back to her own. Truth be told, she was a bit appalled when I told her that I don’t leave comments, and she strongly urged me to go through my blogroll and visit each blog. So I did. Read the articles I hadn’t yet taken a look at. Left a comment everywhere I went. 

If the comments aren’t intelligible, blame Claire. She made me do it.

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