This week, we lost our friend Colleen.
In the almost eight years I knew her, Colleen was the bohemian writer and provocateur that I aspired to be. Her life was like a series of short story hooks: getting married on a lunch break, waiting out a riot in a bar, living in a house cut in half, or living through the Summer of Love. She was woman whose only regrets were never having been arrested, and not writing her stories earlier.
She was my greatest cheerleader, and often said that our writer’s group meetings were important because while family and friends could be sympathetic, they could never truly understand the maladies of the daily writer. We celebrated getting our stories published by magazines no one knew existed, thumbed our noses at rejection letters from even more obscure publications, held book sales in supermarkets, and challenged each other’s boundaries. I consider getting Colleen to kill a dog in a story to be one of my supreme accomplishments as a writer. She taught me that a writer’s voice develops naturally from writing, and writing, and writing some more.
She told me she used to be afraid of death, so she started hospice volunteering and got over it. I like to believe that at the end, she stared at the reaper and was not scared, only curious. Maybe she flipped him off. The cancer took away her words first, so I will never know. She didn’t want a funeral; she said that when you’re dead, that’s it. I urge you to keep that in mind when you read her story this week and know that while she was writing it, she was laughing the whole time.
This week's story: The Funeral