The Day the Writing Died

Once upon a time, when blogging was still in its infancy, the names and faces of the authors were hidden. Anonymity was important because blogs were treated as online diaries. Sometimes they were confessionals, many times they were gritty insights into the souls of individuals we became anonymous friends with. At times, through clunky comment sections and even email, friendships were struck up over common experiences or beliefs.

I remember finally deciding to “come out” of the blogging closet to management where I worked as a flight nurse. The job is still, by far, the sexiest of the healthcare world. People were interested. My readership had grown and more of my coworkers knew about my writing. It goes without saying that being a flight nurse at a busy company was physically and emotionally risky. One of my peers once said that, “you haven’t made it until Emily writes about you on her blog.”

The words were my therapy, my art. I told stories of what it was like from my perspective, from my soul. I skated the very edge of HIPAA during a time in which its very definition was evolving.

Then we crashed.

I was there that day.

My sister, an operating room nurse nine floors below the helipad, felt the building shake. She heard the alarms, then someone rushed into her room declaring that it was a crash and all 4 people were dead.

So there she was, scrubbed into a case, believing I was dead.

In my heart I know that, during the routine FAA check ride that ended with the crash, there were no fatalities because of the pilot’s experience and intensive training. The training, an unusually high standard across the industry due to the high cost, saved both of the pilots were were on board. Our institution handled it with professionalism and instead of hammers being thrown and blame being the course of crisis management, good things happened. It was proof that training saves lives. In this case, potentially hundreds. It also led to millions of dollars invested to improve infrastructure.

Unfortunately, the toll it took on the staff was something less able to be quantified or fixed. Lives were changed. My life changed. It was the day I decided that my marriage wouldn’t last. Some people quit. Some never flew again.

As we watched the helicopter burn on CNN it was the day my writing died.

My sister and I have never been much for lots of outward signs of affection. It has always just been an unspoken, mutual understanding that we were each other’s rock.

I held it together until she pulled into the parking lot of the hangar. Never have I been more relieved to see someone. Never have I had a truer embrace.

She whispered, “I just needed to see you.”

As told by the Author

Stop Counting Cars

The only person in this world you have 100% control over is yourself.

the Wisdom of Beama

In order to sustain some semblance of sanity while strictly following a self-imposed, social distance, I settled on a stroll.

Ok, I went for a fucking walk.

When the outbreak began creeping toward West Michigan, I made the conscious decision that once we began caring for COVID-19 positive patients, I would go no further than home and back to the hospital where I work. Daily walks, setting limits on the consumption of digital media and creating to do lists were part of my self care.

The daily walk consisted of a one mile stretch along a main route in and out town and on one particularly sunny day I decided to count cars, simply out of curiosity. During that easy 18 minute mile, 131 vehicles drove past me.

And it pissed me off.

When the count started, I guesstimated 60 cars in that 18 minutes. I tried to stop my brain from continuing to tally as the number approached 75, then 100, but couldn’t. My stomach began to hurt and my thoughts began to tumble.

Where in the hell did 131 people need to go? Didn’t they know we were told to stay home? What was so important that they needed to expose themselves to this horrible virus AND DON’T THEY KNOW THERE AREN’T ENOUGH PEOPLE OR ROOMS OR EQUIPMENT TO PROPERLY TAKE CARE OF THEM WHEN THEY GET SICK BECAUSE THEY WERE STUPID?

There was a moment of relief as my feet found their way back onto my road and I forced myself to stop counting. The last half mile home the podcast episode piped into my earbuds retreated into background blather. I repeatedly asked myself why that number pissed me off.

It was control. I had no control over the train wreck I was envisioning myself and my colleagues facing. That goddamn curve wasn’t going to flatten if those people driving around kept flipping science the bird. We as, healthcare providers, were the ones expected to deal with the aftermath.

But I control me.

Over the years, when discussing the concerning actions of a friend or loved one, my Mother reminded me that the only person I have control over is myself. Even when witnessing someone we love doing something harmful, we can only express our concern and then let it be, simply removing ourselves from the situation if necessary. It is not our place to do more than that and continuing to nag, badger or guilt someone only leads to strife, anxiety, anger and damaged relationships.


It is my choice to follow the science and my decision to stay home and safe. I possess autonomy and sanity and ability to consciously choose to do the right thing.

And so, through writing this, I remind myself of what mom taught me and tell myself again: Stop counting cars.

You Learn By Living

One thing life has taught me: if you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. … All you need to do is to be curious, receptive, eager for experience. And there’s one strange thing: when you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else.

You Learn by Living—Eleanore Roosevelt

I often times imagining myself as the Disney version of Alice, tumbling down the rabbit hole but without finding bottom. As each random item or book smacks against my fall, it changes my course of descent, careening my brain against another knowledge heavy compendium.

For me, curiosity is integral to my intellect. It was once described as ADOBSO (Attention Deficit, OH! Bright Shiny Object) but instead of viewing my diverse interests as a personal flaw, I’ve come to embrace my shifting interests as an asset. Once, a nurse quietly listened to the banter between myself and a patient. She brought the conversation up a few hours later, expressing surprise at my consistent ability to find common interests with strangers.

Instead of becoming an ‘expert’ at one thing, is it possible to obtain legitimate expertise at learning many things?

Something to contemplate.


I started my first blog today, 12 November, in 2003. For those of you who suck at math, that is 16 years ago. 16 fucking years ago. That was back before blogging was really a thing, and authors, many times, published anonymously. Even with being hacked, two marriages, moving halfway across the country, I saved this. All 670+ posts. Through “coming out” as a blogger. Through a helicopter crash that sucked the life out of my writing (no, I wasn’t on board but my family thought I was dead—a long story). Through telling Uncle Sam to pound sand. Through telling my biggest professional dream that we needed a divorce. Through therapy, through medication, through all kinds of shit. I couldn’t let this small digital file go. Once upon a time I was even offered $5K for the domain. It was too much of me.

My identity.

So here it sat. Collecting digital dust. As I’ve learned, all good things happen when they are supposed to, not when my impatient, impertinent ass wants them to.

Today. Today was the day where my voice returned.

There is a really annoying saying:

…dance like no one is watching.

Once upon a time, I wrote like no one was watching. I think it is time to do just that . . . again.