“Elisa?” The woman looked my way, totally dumbfounded. “EC Stilson?” she said louder when I didn't respond.
I didn’t recognize this woman at all. But she clearly knew me....
Maybe we'd gone to school together?
She walked over after that and started telling me all about my life: how my son died and how my dad had colon cancer. She almost went chronologically from the beginning to the end (through my divorce and sickness), saying she couldn't imagine how I've gotten through everything and still “seen the bright side.” And the whole time I had literally no idea what to do because I couldn’t remember who this woman was!
Finally—getting desperate—I used the oldest trick in the book. “Oh! My gosh!” I squealed. “It's...you!” Then I gave her the biggest hug on earth just hoping that somehow the physical contact would jog my memory—and I would suddenly remember her.
The woman broke out laughing at this point. “You are just like your books! This is great.” Then she laughed so hard I thought she’d bust. “I don't actually know you,” she said.
“Wait a minute. Then...how?” Then it dawned on me. My life is an open book—well books—plural.
“You did a book signing at my daughter’s school, and she won ‘The Sword of Senack.’ We had so much fun reading it that I started reading your memoirs. I just can't believe I would run into you and recognize you from your pictures online and things!” She suddenly turned sort of pale. “Oh! Don’t think I'm a stalker. I just found a lot of inspiration in what you're going through and how you handle it.”
“Don’t be embarrassed.” I chuckled. “I just hugged you and acted like I knew you!”
“Well, I do feel like I know you. Hey, actually, this is so ironic, but can you do something for me?”
“Ummm...sure?” I nodded, and can you believe she actually went to her car and brought back “The Golden Sky” for me to sign?! I couldn’t believe she had it in her car! This was seriously the oddest—coolest—thing. For once IN MY LIFE, I felt like a successful author!
Life can be so terribly hard. I really don't know if I'm handling it all that well, but moments like this make it pure magic! Because even if I can’t hold food down and the doctor had to stop cancer treatments for a bit because my liver was dying.... Even when dinner is burnt, I’m exhausted beyond words, and I make more mistakes than anyone I know, there are Godwinks all around letting me know that God still loves me and everything will be okay.
So, I'm still amazed that someone recognized me AND actually read my books. But it sure was a neat way to make a new friend. When I started writing I had no idea how much it would connect me to so many people. If I never would've shared Zeke’s story, I don't think I'd have the same amount of support that I have now. There's power in vulnerability—in letting people know what our struggles are. I'm just so grateful I've been able to send this “message in a bottle” out into the world, and that I’ve made so many new friends—and memories—in the process.
“Oh, my gosh! It’s...you!” 🤣