"It was time to share this story. It has been 10 years since Jack had his transplant. During the past 10 years, my husband Tim and I, Jack, and our daughter Gracie clawed thru the effects of PTSD from the transplant and have come out on the other side to not only survive but thrive. I could not have written or even shared this story in the past years. But, I just knew that it was time that all those who might need to hear a story about the truest of love and hope, heard just a snippet of our incredible journey thru the dark, ugly, and despairing straight into the brightest and most amazing life one could know."
"Growing up a roller skater was such a huge part of my identity and integral to my life as a Chicago native. Rich City Skate and the ten years my family owned it were some of the most formative years of my life. But due to the evolving family dynamic and the rink’s final chapter, I held those memories in a place of contempt for so long. This story gave me an opportunity to revisit my own story cherishing the sweet moments while learning to accept the bitter ones. This story helped me to heal from a devastating loss b/c Rich City was more than a rink, it was family."
"One of my strangest loves is for a taxidermied gorilla at the Field Museum. I have told stories to the kiddos who spend the night at the museum, an event called Dozin’ with the Dinos, and my first story was about Bushman, an enormous lowland gorilla who became a Chicago superstar during his time at the Lincoln Park Zoo in the 1930s and 40s. Loving an animal is so easy and Bushman is especially lovable for his unique and enduring legacy at Lincoln Park Zoo, which remains at the forefront of gorilla research. Stories keep those we have loved and lost alive…it goes for a gorilla too!"
"The idea that insurance companies were gatekeepers for my trans child to receive necessary and life-saving medical interventions was horrifying. I realized our fight was at every level and every step, from waiting rooms to therapists. Our child has parents as advocates and support. What about all those people that lose their families in this process? My hope in sharing our story helps other parents love and support their children unconditionally."
"I knew I would write this story after visiting Havana, Cuba in 2012 if I found the building where my dad stood on a balcony in 1937. I was driven to find the place dad called a “den of iniquity.” Initially, I wrote it for my nieces and nephews. I don’t have children of my own, so I share stories of those who came before them, keeping the family history alive. Dad’s stories, about Cuba and other youthful escapades, inspired some of my own adventures. Who knows, maybe one day a grandchild or great-grandchild will visit the balcony sparking a new family tradition."
"I wrote this story because that tiny mystical 107-year-old nun pushed me to connect with what was truly important. And it wasn’t fame or fortune or material in any way. It was relatedness. With myself, with those who were currently in my life and those who I have yet to meet, and with the elusive power outside myself that does for me what I cannot do for myself."
"I wrote this story as a way to come to terms with grief. After 5 car accidents, my body has never recovered fully enough to dance again without pain. It was healing to remember how the pleasure and passion of expressive movement had the power to change the story of who I thought I was. In retrospect I can see it’s true- change the way you move, (free your ass) and your mind will follow. It inspired me to find another way to move and change my story again!"
"You never forget your first. As a wide-eyed farm girl, my first love was science. In Science: A Love Story, I share my long and winding road in science, from the awe-filled wonder I found in nature to crushing failure to unexpected triumph. I hope readers realize no one has the right to be the gatekeeper to our dreams, as my friend, mentor, and science hero, Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, taught me when we met by chance on Twitter in 2017. My story shows it’s never too late to have a second act and there’s no expiration date on dreams."
"The moment I knew about writing this story was the moment when I was standing there hugging my brother. When that hug and that moment lingered longer than expected the scene stayed with me. I thought about it after the day depicted in the story and knew that I would write about it. I knew that scene, was the prompt to write the story. I had been thinking about it and writing and re writing but not knowing the way in. When I saw Chicago Story Press's prompt for a love story it clicked in my mind, and I knew how to frame that moment and tell this story."
"I believe that conscious love is both rare and ordinary. Ordinary in the way that we live in air, as fish live in water. We are surrounded by love. It is rare because we forget that. I was fortunate enough to have a consciously loving relationship with my husband. It felt important to tell our story. How we met and recognized something larger than our separate selves at work. I could easily have said 'no' to him when we met. But then, I would have missed my opportunity to discover what love gave, and still gives me."
"I wrote this story because despite my loss and my struggle with grief, I needed to remind myself of how thankful I was for my marriage to Pep. I know some people will hear or read this story and think how sad that this woman lost her beloved, but I don’t think of this story as being sad at all. I think it is a testament to our Joy. And yes, a reminder that life is such a wonderful delicate balance of Love, Loss but also Joy, and we need to be grateful for ALL of it!"
"We all have those moments from our childhood that stick with us. Moments that shaped who we are and how we see the world. I wanted to take one of those moments and put it through my adult lens. That’s how “The Hockey Helmet” came about. It’s in many ways a story that took me 50 years to write; a story about struggling to come to terms with parents’ divorce, and how sometimes, when we don’t have the words, we show our love through the simplest of acts."
"Stories about human foibles make the world a funnier, warmer, more forgiving place—I hope. That’s why I share them. This story is one example. My friends and I loved our middle school crush so much we could imagine praying at his grave someday. So, we made it happen. That's weird. Still, in retrospect it’s funny and even a bit charming. Maybe stories like this I tell will help people find compassion for and joy in their own weirdness."
"In 2016 I finally decided to write a solo show. I didn't know what it would look like, but I knew I wanted to make the leap. I also knew if it was going to be authentic, it would have to deal with my Dad. He died when I was 13 and was a major influence on my life. I began writing, but it was a week before the show, and I still had not written anything about my Dad. I was scared. It was too painful but the deadline was there and people were coming to the show. With my back against the wall, I wrote this story about finally mourning the passing of such a wonderful man."
"As the oldest Hahm kid, I took my responsibilities seriously, teaching my little brother Wendell all I knew. When I learned that he’d nearly died of a heart attack, time, and space pancaked and took me back to that near disaster in Hawaii, the day I led him on that misadventure, with no one to turn to for help. My feisty, irksome kid brother, always stepping out of line. How I loved him! How I wanted to keep him safe!"
"On a late August evening, sitting in Mariano's grocery store parking lot, my mother calls and tells me she has just been diagnosed with stage 3C Endometrial cancer. I was scared, mad, confused, and did I mention, scared! This caregiver’s journey revealed a lot about myself and my mom. This story taught me that death is not the end, it’s a new beginning. Love endures forever."
"It was an exploration of a type of love that often has dysfunction and pain woven inextricably with addiction and fantasy. I was a willing participant in this destructive familiar dance, an easy mark for those vain beautiful men who knew this dance. My writing of this story and the journaling preceding it, allowed me the ability to create a safe space to access, confront and understand the languishing roots in my heart that kept me locked in these unhealthy patterns -as I continually fell in despair."
"I started writing this story more than 10 years ago but could not finish it. It was just too painful to write about a time that was so difficult, bitter, and shameful that I winced to think about it. However, through that shedding of an old life, I realized I should be telling this story for the sake of those who feel lost, lonely, or in despair after a deep love that does not work out. Change can come with unbearable pain, but it can also teach us how to live a better life, be a better person, love again, and come out standing stronger than ever imagined."
"When people ask, I always say Dan Clark and I are so oddly matched that it's hard to imagine either one of us with anyone else. Who doesn't want to hear that story? I revel in my lucky-luck-luck to share stories about being in love for 36 years and whenever I do tell those stories, Dan Clark always says, "I'm going to slap an injunction on the place." I've got good material to work with, two terrific editors that help shape my work and a great husband to boot."
"I couldn’t alone convince Katy she was wrong to think she would never find love because of her disability. There were just too many other people, and events in her life, that made her feel that way. So, I decided to share our story with the hope that more of us will come to know her, to understand her, and help her believe otherwise. It’s hard enough, living with the damage done to the body by a disability. It shouldn’t bar the soul from knowing the joy of lifelong love."
"I wrote the story, Love, Loyalty, and the Kiss that Sealed Our Fate, as an homage to my first love and to offer space for the thread that unites us all. First, last, requited or unrequited love, we have all had some experience with at least one of those. Love profoundly touches our souls without warning and changes us forever. It is in our nature to love and be loved. It is who we are and what we have in common. Love leaves an imprint, and even if we move on from that love, it's in our hearts forever. I hope you enjoy reading my story and remembering yours."
"Family is very important to me, evidenced by how many of my essays involve members of my family. My brother, Mark, means everything to me. He was there when I needed him the most - when my not really good at parenting father was alive and after he died. It was important to me to have others know what a wonderful man and brother he is. I’m very glad for the opportunity for the essay to be in print as he had not seen it. I sent him the book with a note - 'Start on page 148'"
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