Firestorm Part 2

Today, back to work. Sigh.

The story on of the phone tag Shannon and I played for the next week came to be known as The Shannon and Mary Soap Opera.

I stayed home the next day after Shannon left that message (any excuse, it was bad at my old school, y’all) to call her back. She was OUT that day! And that weekend, I believe, was the Silken Sands conference. My buddies Trish and Janice went (Trish had revisions, too, hand delivered by Shannon to the conference). Trish and Janice emailed me from the conference telling me how cool Shannon was. I was GREEN let me tell you!

I couldn’t miss anymore days, so every day during planning, I would run to the car with my cell and call. During one of the phone calls, I was told Shannon didn’t work there anymore!!! My heart plummeted. I ran into school to report this to eHQ, who informed me that was crap and to try again. The poor little receptionist was SO apologetic for nearly killing me.

FINALLY, we spoke and made an appointment for a more in depth phone call later in the week.

During that call, we talked an HOUR. Guess what she wanted? Say it with me now – MORE SEXUAL TENSION! And less firefighting.

I got to work right away. This was probably the last week of April.

My other friend Trish read it for me and we couldn’t decide how to end it. I had a Thanksgiving scene where Gabe meets the family, and I had a banquet scene where Peyton was getting an award for her series and Gabe showed up out of the blue in a tux (SIGH) and she made her declaration of love and her decision to go back to firefighting in front of this crowd of people.

Then I had another ending, which I don’t remember. I called Shannon on June 8 to ask her. She said to go with my gut. We talked for awhile and the phone kept beeping with an incoming call. I didn’t click over because this was an EDITOR.

A few minutes later, my ds came in with my cell phone. It was my brother. My grandmother had fallen and hit her head and was in the hospital.

Okay, this next bit is kind of unbelievable. Before you think I’m a terrible heartless person, you have to know my grandmother, Gigi, was the strongest person I know. She broke her hip in 1980. They told her she’d not walk again. She was driving within a few years, and continued to drive till she was 90. In my mind she was invincible.

So while I got dressed to go to the hospital, I printed out the last scene, packaged the ms while my boy got dressed, addressed the envelope by heart and through the packet in the backseat of the car.

Gigi was in scary bad shape, very out of it. My brother, who was 15 and had been alone with her at the time (Not when he called me, though, he didn’t call till they were at the hospital.) He blamed himself.

And she was 92 and it didn’t seem like the doctors were trying to help.

My family filled the waiting room, at least 10 of us at all times. My mom suggested we go to the house to eat while they moved Gigi to the ICU. While she went to get food, I swung by the post office to mail my ms.

I know, bad. But I still beat my mom to her house.

That was a summer of waiting. Waiting for Shannon to read Hot Shot, waiting for my grandmother to come home.

The day after she fell, she was sitting up in ICU talking about going out to eat as soon as she got out of the hospital. Two days later, she came home, but she wouldn’t eat. My dh, ds and I went to Florida to meet up with my dad and stepmom, and when we came back, Gigi was back in the hospital.

I didn’t know what to do about Dallas. I was at the hospital every day, and by mid-July, it was the nursing home. And because it was right across the main street by my house, I’d go there maybe twice a day. I’d go early and sit with her and read Unsettled and cry.

Two days before National, we met with hospice. Gigi wasn’t eating or drinking or talking. I didn’t see how she’d make it another week. She was going to die and I wasn’t going to be there.

I didn’t want to leave, but Mom and my uncle insisted I go. My brother who is 4 years younger than me took Baby Brother to the coast, to get him away. He was taking it really hard.

The day before we left, my dh’s cell broke and we were down to one. If he got a call about Gigi when I was in workshops, he wouldn’t know where to find me.

We went to the nursing home before we headed to Dallas. She couldn’t talk, but she pointed to the ceiling. I think she meant she was dying. I asked her to wait for me, that I’d be home Sunday. I cried as I left.

That night I called to check on her and it turned out that was the worst day. My uncle had told her she could go, but I’d asked her to stay.

She always did anything I asked her to do.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, the WNP and SARAs closed around me. They’d been with me in spirit all summer and now they comforted me in person.

I met with Shannon (the WNP stalked her since she had 3 of our mss) and while she hadn’t read my revisions, she was very excited about Hot Shot and working together. I met with Pamela Harty, who assured me two GH finals on the same ms wasn’t a fluke.

Gail Barrett won the GH in my category, but not with her firefighter book.

First thing Sunday morning, we headed home. We were at an ice house in Waco, at 10 in the morning, when my stepdad called to say Gigi had died that morning.

Between that, and getting a job at another school, I didn’t write much that fall. Gail Barrett sold her firefighter book to Susan. I finished Surface, and the next time I talked to Shannon, I told her about it. She had some ideas, and asked to see it.

A month later, she’d left HQ.

I emailed Susan immediately and asked her to get Hot Shot before it was passed to Shannon’s replacement. She did.

So, in 2004, I wrote 3 books, revised one, moved to a new school and lost my grandmother. Everything was so tied together. Firestorm was a pretty accurate description of that year.

Tomorrow, mop up.

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Kelly Boyce said...

What a story. How sad about your grandma, she sounds like an incredible woman. I think Firestorm was an accurate portrayl of that time in your life.

Janice Lynn said...

Oh Mary! Just remembering makes me sad. I adored Shannon--she was just the coolest ever! & hate that she didn't get you and Trish bought before she took a new job.

Cindy Taylor said...

Oh, Mary, what a sad period in life. Your grandmother sounds like she was a strong person.

And I remember from the eHQ boards when Shannon left. That was such a bad point for so many of you.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I remember bits and pieces of this, too. You brought me to tears--I can't imagine how it felt to write it, remembering.

MJFredrick said...

My grandmother WAS awesome. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her. We were very fortunate she was lucid till almost the end - I think that was really frustrating for her.

Janice, you, too!

Thanks, Cindy. Yeah, it was rough. Trish called to tell me, I think. It was like an anvil dropped. Horrible.

Natalie, yeah, this one was hard to write. The only bright spot that year was getting a new job.

Toni Anderson said...

Mary I can relate. I lost my granny in a similar way. I saw her the day after my wedding and she died a week later just hours before we got back from our honeymoon. If we'd left a day earlier? My parents lied to me on the phone and said she was doing better. They meant well.

But you kept writing the whole time and didn't use it as an excuse--well done Mary!!!!

MJFredrick said...

{{{{{{{{{{{{{TONI}}}}}}}}}}}}} on your grandmother's loss. Hard, huh? But you know she would have wanted you to have your honeymoon.



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