Some of you have probably noticed that I’ve been absent from the blog lately, and it took a while for me to find the strength to explain why.

In late January, my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer of unknown origin. I’ve left my home to care for her, and nowadays am living out of a cramped spare bedroom in rural Wisconsin. The future is a total question mark.

For those of you keeping track at home, in six months to the day, that’s the death of my grandfather, the death of my sweet Sheltie, and a cancer diagnosis for my mom. So either some very good news is just around the corner, or late last summer someone invested in a voodoo doll with my face on it.

We intend to fight the cancer with everything we have. The women in my family are well-known for their persistence in the face of long odds. But fighting with everything I have on behalf of my mother means that the blog is simply not a major priority right now. I’ll write when it feels like a respite, but not when it feels like a responsibility. How often that will be, and for how long…well, your guess is as good as mine. I’m trying to take things hour by hour at this point.

This isn’t an adventure I’d have embarked on willingly. But then again, neither was the Minnesota Orchestra lockout, and in the end, that nightmare turned into something profound and indeed even sacred. And it’s certainly no coincidence that the people who are keeping me afloat nowadays are the very same people I got to know during the lockout. A deep, deep thank you to those folks.

Okay. So. Send prayers and best wishes for peace and strength. I’ll be back, some way, somehow. Thankfully every circumstance is temporary. And I’ll still be checking in online, frequently. I just won’t be writing long-form entries as often as I’d like. Stay in touch using Twitter and Facebook. I’ve found I like to check those while traveling to hospitals and wasting time in waiting rooms.

To close, because I don’t have the time or the energy to write a separate entry on the subject… I wanted to say that I could not be more excited for the Minnesota Orchestra’s new chapter. Securing the talents of Erin Keefe for the foreseeable future? A Sibelius concert at Carnegie in 2016? Becoming the first American orchestra to perform in Cuba in the Obama era? Well, holy [expletive], guys. I hope you patrons know what you’ve done. These astonishing developments could not have happened without you. When Alex Ross is sent into ecstasies March after next – when the newspaper articles about the historic Cuba concerts are written – when the eyes of the entire world turn to Minneapolis to appreciate the contributions our orchestra makes to international cultural life – remember: that was you who did that. Miracles happen when people work together. That’s a lesson I’ll try my best to hold close to my heart in the weeks and months to come.

Like I said, stay in touch. I can’t take this journey by myself.

Outside my new - temporary - home.

Outside in a gorgeous winter sunset



Filed under My Writing

44 responses to “Semi-Hiatus

  1. Lisa Renee Ragsdale

    Um, something is not clear…here. You are currently living in “a cramped spare bedroom in rural Wisconsin” – “to care for a beloved family member”….. and further down you mention the death of a relative ….”and a cancer diagnosis.” Do I understand that both this beloved family member and yourself have a form of or diagnosis of cancer? I don’t know if I should have brought this up(?), but I’m confused. And I really do not want to pry into your personal life especially since its really NOMB! (You can easily figure that one out!). Still I am concerned and want to send you powerful healing thoughts and wishes.

    • I edited a couple turns of phrase to make it clearer. The cancer diagnosis is my mother’s, but I am serving as main – and at times – sole caretaker. Apologies for confusion but I’m scribbling this entry out in between caretaking duties…

  2. Emily, you have a legion of folks who will keep you in their thoughts and prayers. I am so happy to be one of the folks you have touched with your blog. Hugs, good vibes, and you know how to reach me. xoxo

  3. Emily: Please know that many people both known and unknown to you are sending healing thoughts and prayers for you and your family. Do take care of yourself, as caregivers are always at risk as well as the persons for whom they’re caring. We look forward to hearing from you whenever you are able to write.

  4. You have a whole huge family rooting for you… a family that spreads across states, countries and continents. And you can always lean on us when you need to. Hugs to all of you!

  5. This leads me to delurk to send loving wishes for good care, good treatment, good prospects.

  6. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your mom, Emily.

  7. Every time I enter my synagogue, your Mom’s name will be added to our prayer for healing. Hang in there!

  8. ellensmith2013

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your mom. There is always a sunrise the next day, though FOX News says OBAMA will be changing that soon. (I feel for you on that one as I have the same issues with some in our family, blasting TV and all). Each day is a gift and being with your mother right now is the best gift in the world for her. Stay strong little lioness. XOXO
    Ellen Dinwiddie Smith

  9. Michael Adams

    Wish you were closer Emily so we could be there for you in a more meaningful way! We are thinking of you often. Best to your brave mom.

  10. Emily: All your fans, friends and followers at the Minnesota Chorale are keeping you and your mom close to our hearts. I hope that our singing provides you both with comfort and support as you navigate the waters ahead. We’re with you!

  11. Best wishes to you and your mother. You’ve created quite an extended family through these blogs. We may not have met and probably most of us never will meet you in person, but you have earned our respect and affection in that uniquely online way. Take care.

  12. Lisa Renee Ragsdale

    And now I’m feeling a little like a heel, but Scott is correct; you really do have a huge, gigantic family of musicians, bloggers, composers, and arts administrators as well as an even bigger contingent of people who are here — just for you and your mom. I’ve been in your shoes; when my father died of colon cancer and my mother passed away when I was right there with her (congestive heart failure). Which is why I am sending all the spiritual love, grace, goodness and positive prayers I can squeeze into this little (?) email. All my best. Lean on us whenever you need to.

  13. Beatrice Blanc

    So many hugs your way…so much love and gratitude for you and yours.
    -with love from Beatrice and the shoulder rest guy.

  14. Sandi Sherman

    Dear Emily,
    My heart is with you, as is the hearts of everyone who went through the battle to save the Munnesota Orchestra. I work at the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, and know that if there is anything I can do in terms of referrals or second opinions, I am there for you. This weekend, as I make beautiful music with the Twin Cities Women’s Choir and our special guests from Ghana, Saakumu Drum and Dance Troupe, I will be sending our joyous music your way. All the best to you and your family!

    Sandi Sherman

  15. Sarah Schmalenberger

    Dear, wonderful Emily – You and your mom both are in my thoughts and prayers and in my music. I, too, have battled cancer, and I know that it takes a great deal of time, energy, and LOVE to endure. Call on me any time.

  16. Stefanie Przybylska

    hang in there, kiddo. You’re a wonderful writer with a great heart and I look forward to reading your work whenever and wherever you may surface. As an orchestral musician whose orchestra didn’t survive a hostile lockout, I’ve really appreciated your coverage of the M.O lockout. Best of luck with your life’s journey!

  17. Prayers and positive thoughts to you and your family.

  18. Elizabeth Erickson

    Dear Emily, Sending you both and your Mom warm hugs, lots of prayers, and a gentle reminder that you are both tough as nails on the outside and warm and tender on the inside. Please let me know if you need anything from your MN friends.

  19. Karin Erickson

    Dearest Emily, You did so much for all us during the dark days and I am so sorry that you are going through dark days yourself now. Hugs, prayers and deepest wishes for strength to you. You have meant so much to a host of followers whom you do not even know. Stay strong.

  20. george jaquith

    Emily, Will miss your blogs as we pray for positive outcomes. The world needs your contributions.
    PEACE and FAITH,
    jake J.

  21. Stay true, Emily. You are about to learn things about yourself that you never imagined. My thoughts and prayers are will you, your mother and family during this extremely challenging time. Cinda

  22. Deborah Serafini

    I wish the best of all possible outcomes for you and your mother. She is in good hands at Mayo. I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer 45 years ago and as the oldest child, was her main caregiver. Fortunately, the treatment of cancer has advanced greatly since then. Sadly, the role of caregiver remains relatively unchanged. Please take good care of yourself.

  23. Sam

    I feel a bit out of place commenting but have only just read you hiatus post and felt the need to comment. First of all, my sincerest best wishes and prayers to you and your mom with hopes she makes a speedy recovery (or recovery, none the less). Secondly (but no less importantly) my condolences for the loss of both your Grandpa and Sheltie.

    I’ve followed your blog, off and on, since very nearly the beginning because, quite frankly, you write uncommonly well. I sincerely hope that, no matter what the future has in store for you, that you continue to write. It is, as someone very nearly once said, a fixed point of light in a changing age.

    I foresaw Cuba opening up. Cuba was a Grande Dame once, with it’s own Golden Age believe it or not (which became undermined through greed and corruption [similar story to China and, of course Russia]). In addition to everything else, her people have that as their history. I definitely did not foresee the MO going there to play though and am quite surprised to hear that. Surprised in a good way. As if there wasn’t enough to be proud of them for. Well done them.

    • Thank you thank you. I will always write in some form, so no worries; I WILL be back. And I’ve been a Sherlockian since the age of ten, so I deeply appreciate any mention of “a fixed point in a changing age”!!! Don’t worry, this isn’t My Last Bow by any means. And please know I have deep appreciation for you, my readers, who make it all possible and worthwhile and so very very rewarding. So thank you Sam, and stop by as often as you want, and never feel out of place commenting!!! We’re all family here at this point. :) Emily

      • Sam

        I’ve been away for a bit and just heard the news. I am truly sorry for your loss and grateful to you for being so kind and welcoming.

        I hope you can reach your fundraising goal and have contributed what I can (wishing it was more).

        Sincerest condolences Em.

  24. Pingback: Standing Together with One of Our Own | Mask of the Flower Prince

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