Some Days IV

This blog post is a hard one to write. Last week, I received word that fellow author and good friend Sheila Connolly had passed away peacefully at home. Her cancer updates had not contained good news, though Sheila herself had remained steadfastly optimistic. For someone I had only had contact with a little over a year, and only spent three days with at GCLS in Portland, her passing left a big gap in my life. She and Beth had bonded over knitting, and Sheila had sent Beth all her surplus yarn, so the loss is one we both feel. We know we’ll see her again one day, but we will miss her presence here, now.

Caren and Sheila

When Sheila was diagnosed, she wrote to tell me that a couple of my novels had helped her cope with that news. “I wanted you to know how much it meant to me to have some insight into the process of testing, diagnosing, confirming, and planning counter-measures that respond to the true situation. It made the days of waiting so much easier to bear. I’m sure I would have gone nuts without all the information you provided… It has mattered knowing these things, Caren. It has eased my nights of sleeplessness and all the other moments of doubt and fear. Thank you for all that you have offered and given to this community. I for one have benefited beyond measure.”


She could not have known that when she wrote, I was going through a period of doubting the value of my writing, of feeling so frustrated with the endlessly uphill slog of trying to market books in a sea of other books. I’m pretty sure I cried as I read her message. It still makes my eyes tear up. All my worries suddenly seemed pretty insignificant compared to what she was going through. No matter what else happens with writing and future publishing, her message will always be a touchstone for me.

Despite the sadness we’re still feeling a little over a week after Sheila’s passing, I can’t write this post without sharing a couple of bits of good news with all of you.

Remember “Brian”, my patient recovering from pancreatic cancer? Well, I discharged him from physical therapy yesterday. He was having a hard time being cut loose, and still has a long way to go to build his strength and endurance back up, but he’s ready to fly solo.

Another incredible piece of good news is that Beth and I are finally set to take the trip of a lifetime – hopefully the first of many. We’re going to Ireland! And we largely have Sheila thank for getting us off our butts, getting our passports and actually making the commitment to go. I know she’d be grinning and sending us all kinds of wishes for safe travels.

Same to you, Sheila…

Passport Ireland




9 thoughts on “Some Days IV

  1. Sheila was a wonderful, kind woman, who really believed in giving back to the community. I’m glad she inspired you to go to Ireland. I’m expecting a lot of photos!

  2. Caren and Beth, I’m very sorry about the loss of your friend, Sheila. It sounds like you had a very special connection.

    How exciting about your trip to Ireland! I’m sure it will be a wonderful experience in many ways, and I hope it will be inspirational for your writing as well.

  3. Hi Caren I’m really sorry to hear about your friend Sheila my mom died of breast cancer 23 years ago and it still very painful for me but I found strength in knowing she’s no longer in pain and that’s the same for your friend. Be strong and think about all the great times you had with her and your trip will help too have a safe one. Take care of yourself. Lorraine

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