A Life-changing Event and a Quote

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free so Drink. Drink and be filled up.” ~Stephen King~

During the summer of 1981, my life was full of turmoil. I considered leaving my teenage marriage of five years, and try to find some happiness. I wasn’t content with my life, and I certainly wasn’t getting any closer to my goals being married to my first husband.

In the spring of that same year, I’d attended a concert to see Harry Chapin live in a small venue in Seattle, Washington. We had front row seats, and though I was familiar with ‘Taxi,’ ‘W.O.L.D,’ and ‘Cats in the Cradle,’ I didn’t know too many of Harry’s other songs.

That concert in March of 1981, just a few months before his untimely death, Harry Chapin became a vital person in my world. He inspired me to pick up my pen again.

The songs I heard that night were stories written to music. He wove parts of life into an intricate tapestry of melodies. I was entranced. Tears rolled down my face when I heard ‘A Better Place to Be’ for the first time.

But it was the ending of that concert that moved me the most. Harry was out by the concession stand as he told us he would be as he and the band left the stage.

Now, during the concert, since I was in the front row with my then-husband, Harry noticed me. He saw me because my face reflected all of my emotions as I listened to his stories.

I was too late to get one of the ‘Harry Keep the Change’ t-shirts, but the pile of his poetry books stood high, and I grabbed one and got in line.

For a brief time during the concert, I had an incredible vision. In it, Harry and I walked together in a garden of beautiful flowers. Each flower represented one of his songs. Then we walked to a far corner of the garden, and the soil was plowed and ready for planting.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“This is your garden, Patty.”

“My garden?”

“Yes. When you start writing, you will have a beautiful garden filled with your words and the stories you create.”

“Yes. I can see that.”

After a moment, I asked him, “Do you really think I can?”

“I think you can do anything you decide to try. And I know you are a great writer. Remember the stories you wrote when you were a kid? You could make your mother, your aunt, and your grandmother cry with one story. Imagine the impact you will have on the world.”

“Me?”

“Don’t be modest. Yes, you.”

When the concert was over, the vision of Harry and I in the garden vanished.

Finally, it was my turn to pay for my book and have it signed by Harry. He gave me a knowing smile when he took the book from me.

I felt as if he’d glimpsed a part of the vision. At that moment, I knew he and I traveled together over space and time. In fact, we’d done it many lifetimes before.

After he signed my book, Harry looked directly into my eyes.

“May I?”

He’d said he would kiss all the pretty girls, so I wasn’t astonished when he started towards me while giving the book back to me. What did surprise me was the way he grabbed me and leaned me back into a dip.

The kiss was magical. In those brief moments, I felt our souls greet one another. I felt like I was home after a long time of being on my own.

Now, my husband stood in the concession area and watched the kiss. He didn’t say much. He didn’t say much over the long ride back to Bremerton, where we lived.

Harry’s kiss and presence in my life lingered. He awoke the part of my brain that loved to write. I started to journal again. I always had a notebook with me, so I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to write down a phrase or an idea. The author in me was awake for the first time since I was sixteen.

On July 16, 1981, Harry died in a freak car crash. It seems that the Volkswagen Bug he was driving lost power while he was in the far-left lane of a highway. The tractor-trailer truck behind him hit his car from behind, and Harry left this world.

When the news came on the radio while I was on my lunch break, I felt as if I’d just lost the most critical person in the world. I was bereft as if I lost my spouse or best friend.

And then in the most generous spirit, I’d ever known from him, my husband of five years went to the record store and bought me every Harry album he could find.

It was definitely a case of ‘too little, too late,’ but now, even after forty years, it still makes me smile to know my first husband truly cared. He just didn’t know how to love.

In that September, I left my husband. In the few possessions, I took from our house were the albums and the books I’d been toting from place to place since I was sixteen years old.

Among my treasures, Harry’s book of poetry topped the list. I didn’t have very many things in that little studio apartment, but that memento sat proudly next to the small B/W TV I bought at the local K-Mart.

In early October, a woman I worked with brought me a large bag full of novels. She knew I was going through a rough patch, and she also knew I loved to read. I was delighted and took the bag home with me.

It was Friday night, and the winds was howling outside. I was glad for something to do, so I looked through the bag until I came upon one of Stephen King’s early novels. I read ‘Salem’s Lot’ from cover to cover that night.

Now, I didn’t sleep very well, but in the forward, Stephen King spoke to his love of writing and how it made his life possible.

Suddenly, I was back in that walk in the garden with Harry. Only now, Stephen King was with us, too. And they both told me how important it was for me to share my stories with the world.

Thirty-six years later, I self-published my first novel. Having the ability to write full-time because I left the workforce at the end of 2013 and went on disability, finally gave me the time I wanted. Time to concentrate on writing.

And I think about my two heroes a lot.

If you could stand in my office at any point during the day, you would hear Harry’s songs playing on my desktop computer, compliments of Spotify. It may not be all Harry, all the time, but not single day goes by without me hearing ‘A Better Place to Be’ at least one time.

Stephen King is still alive, and his books come into my life as something new is published. But nothing in his work inspired me as much as Harry’s songs did—until I read the following quote,

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free so Drink. Drink and be filled up.” ~Stephen King~

Yes, writing is magic. Drinking this special water of life sustains me.

I am a writer.

Published by Mustang Patty

I am finally a full-time author, who writes legal thrillers, how-to- books, short stories, flash fiction, a tiny bit of poetry, and Blog posts. My published works include 'Guilty until Proven Innocent,' 'Innocent for the Moment,' and 'Moment by Moment.' This is a trilogy called the Jill Adair Series. Additionally, I've written a collection of short stories about my dogs, Howie and Bernie - with a 2nd Collection coming in late 2021. I'm also coordinating an Anthology of Short Stories called, '2021 Indie Authors Short Story Anthology.' This book will be available on Amazon.com on August 1st of 2021. (The 2020 Indie Authors Short Story Anthology is currently available on Amazon.com - the collection includes 30 stories, written by 18 different Authors from three continents.) I am married to my wonderful hubby of over 37 years, and I have two grown children, named Heather and Gregory. I've been blessed with two beautiful grandbabies, Heather Rose and Logan Ernest.

One thought on “A Life-changing Event and a Quote

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: