Sunday, November 9, 2008

What is Sally's Circle?

Hi there!

It's almost midnight on Sunday, but I'm too excited to sleep. This is my first blog, and I'm so happy to share it with you.

My mom, Sally, is the inspiration for this blog. You would've loved Sally. How do I know? EVERYONE loved Sally! She had an enormous smile, the most loving heart, and all she ever wanted to do was sit and chat. In 2000, at age 57, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Most patients live less than 6 months (can you believe that?). My mom was so feisty that she fought for 2 1/2 years. Sadly, she passed away in 2002. I was 20.

Six years later, I'm still here. And, to my surprise, I'm actually pretty happy most of the time. I love my career in writing/editing. Playing drums with my indie-pop band, The Falsies, is a total thrill. And right now I'm obsessed with trying out new recipes in my straight-from-the-'50s slow cooker.

But some days are hard. Holidays get to me. Big decisions make me long for her advice. Family get-togethers feel one chair short. Even tonight, eating at a Thai restaurant with my dad and brother, I missed her chit chat. Dinners are quiet without a mom -- have you ever noticed that?

So... I bet you're wondering why it's called Sally's Circle. I'll tell you.

For my first 20 years, I was in Sally's Circle. Lucky me! I was the proud recipient of her tight-squeeze hugs, sympathetic back rubs, and loving hair strokes. Tonight, I invite you to sit at the circle. I hope by sharing my stories and coping strategies, you might feel the warmth of Sally's love. And I hope you'll share your stories with me, too.

Here's the first thing I want you to know: If it hurts now, someday it won't hurt as badly. I promise.

Thanks for the midnight rendezvous. I'm glad you're here.


Photos courtesy of Irina Kipnis


  1. I have happy goosebumps reading your blog. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to future entries.

  2. I adore you. I'm crying. Shocker. I'm a hormone factory. I'm SO glad you started this. SO FREAKING GLAD. The world needs your writing, and not just your work writing... we all need this, too.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go call my mom and make her decipher my snotty-faced crying jibberish.

  3. I too, have tears adorning my cheeks. Thank you Marisa for your bravery and your willingness to share your story.

  4. Thank you, friends, for your kind comments. Your support means the world to me.

  5. I am so proud of my niece, Marisa. She has captured the essence of her Mom and my sister-in-law in her comments.

    Sally was a warm, caring, funny human being. I treasure her memory and the beautiful years we spent together as "sisters" and friends. She was truly my sister.


  6. Okay, this is my third try! Marisa, what a great way to start my day - with thoughts about my beloved friend and cousin, Sally, and with such pride at what you are doing here. I admire your honesty, and courage, to express such deep feelings. I know you will be helping others too. You are a beautiful person, and I know your mom is so proud. I love you.

  7. you're so awesome. this is an extraordinary thing you're doing...can't wait to watch it evolve.

  8. Way to go Marisa! I am so touched by your story and what you are doing. I love your mom and I know hundreds of people are getting the support they need from reading your story and ongoing words of warmth. Keep it up! Debbie

  9. This comment is for those people out there who are meeting Marisa for the first time through her blog. I have a few words for you: First, she is truly a special may say one in a million as cliche as that is. USE HER FOR ALL OF HER GOODNESS BECAUSE SHE HAS SO MUCH TO SHARE. Second, things do turn around...I was there first hand and she is in a wonderful place today. Third, don't be afraid to share your feelings. The first few times may be awkward...but it will become more natural overtime. I promise!

  10. Marisa, this is amazing. How lucky we are to follow this blog from the beginning! I can't wait to hear more stories. I am so proud to be your friend!

  11. My inner introvert is cheering you on.

  12. I have 2 favorite memories of Sally- #1, Sr yr of high school, sitting in the CVS parking lot, talking to Sally on the phone for literally 1 hour!! The guidance
    counselor is a trait ALL your family has.
    memory #2- Screaming "Hi Sally" every morning from the Maximum Teen Tour Bus

    love you maris!!! this blog is amazing!!

  13. I didnt mean to be anonymous- if you couldnt guess its me, Shari

  14. This is amazing Marisa! Thanks for putting yourself out there and for inspiring us all. I can't wait to read more.

  15. Marisa, our friend Särah sent me your blog, surely knowing that I would get something out of your words this week. You and I both belong to the "I lost my parent too young" club-- my dad passed away when I was 19. They are events that simultaneously signify maturity beyond our years and a stunted ability to confide in those closest to us. Because burdening family makes their pain more profound, and friends, well, they don't get it. Yet.
    Lucky for them.
    In this day of "Four Christmases" and melded families, I find myself in tough predicament and dreading yet another emotional rollercoaster. My stepdad has terminal renal cell cancer, and is beginning to get tired of fighting. But, where does this leave me? Is it acceptable to spend 3 days in bed with the lights off, mourning someone you were legally tied to through another? He taught me to drive, took me to sports practice every afternoon, he bought all the crap I sold for high school fundraising, in a lot of ways he was there more than my dad. But I don't have the emotional patience to explain that right now.
    I don't envy you losing your mom... I don't know what I would do. Dads are different. You don't know your dad very well until you're older and can understand the silent moments and gruff frowns. With Dads it's less about the emotional "circle" you've lost, and more about the things you'll never have: someone to intimidate all the jerks you date, someone to help you buy your first new car, someone to walk you down the aisle, someone to have the special "grandpa" relationship with your kids.
    Lately I've been indulging in David Gray, Damien Rice, Patty Griffin, Ray LeMontagne. If you want to have an indulgent, soul-cleansing cry, try Patty Griffin's "Long Ride Home" and "You Are Not Alone," Missy Higgins' "Sugarcane," Counting Crows' "Raining in Baltimore," Coldplay and Michael Stipe's live version of "In the Sun," and Chris Issak's "Life Will Go On."
    Keep your head up this week, and keep up the good work on this blog.