Things That Matter Most

At Christmas, we found out my dad had stage IV lung cancer. By the New Year, I made my resolution to “live with greater emotional openness and vulnerability.”

It was also that month my boyfriend Paul and I had a very excruciating conversation about the future of our relationship. We have been together almost three years, but the last year has been long distance, with Paul based in Denver and me in Seattle. In short, I realized I was acting like a quitter, avoiding a situation that created ripples in the gentle pond of my world, causing me to suffer. With that epiphany came a sense of relief that my relationship to Paul wasn’t in jeopardy, but my relationship to suffering needed to be examined. A colleague told me to, “live into [2012] with courage.”

It was also in January that Jeanne and Bekemeyer approached me with an incredible offer, to work with them on the creation of a new short called Impasse.

These three seemingly unrelated events converged this week.

Living with courage in a state of emotional openness has since become my crucible. With my Dad’s cancer, the train tracks of my future switched far in the distance. Every day I walk them out, I recognize the changes that were laid before.

As actors, we are escapists into the lives of others. We bring to those lives all we have experienced and felt. The deeper our life experiences, the more we have to draw on as artists.

It is often wonderful and exhilarating to do both at the same time, to channel life’s maelstrom into character.

About a week ago, my real life called me to action, and called me to give 100% of my focus and time. My dad took a severe turn for the worse.

Walking into our living room last Thursday, I was overwhelmed with the realization that trying to channel the stress and fears of my Dad’s situation into my character as Alice wouldn’t be possible. There wouldn’t be enough of me left to go around. I felt like an empty well, coping day to day, a violin string tuned too tight and sharply.

While these thoughts built, my boyfriend Paul flew in from Denver to be a support for me in Spokane, where I am with my family. Suddenly, events became even more dire.

Arriving in Spokane, Paul found a lump. Two days later we were in the ER, and they confirmed he had a tumor, which they believe to be cancer.

Like Sarah laughing in disbelief, I couldn’t stop laughing at what God had dealt us. I knew then beyond any doubt I was being asked to choose my real life, with openness and courage, over Alice.

Within hours, laughter turned to sobbing. I got on the phone with Jeanne and poured out the turn of events. We both agreed the best thing for me was to be single-minded as a caregiver for my family, and the best thing for Impasse was to have a lead actress who could similarly be single-minded in her pursuit of Alice.

Right now, I’m in Seattle for less than 24 hours to be with Paul while he goes through a CT scan, ultrasound, more blood tests, and meets with his oncologist. Then I fly to my parents’ home in Spokane to resume around-the-clock care of my Dad. I hope to be able to be back in Seattle with Paul either during his surgery on Thursday, or for part of his recuperation, depending on my Dad’s condition.

More than anything, I’m incredibly grateful for people like Jeanne and Bekemeyer who are not only talented but also immensely compassionate. I’m grateful for my job, which values the bonds of family, and I’m grateful for a life opportunity to be of service in a meaningful way that I will never regret.

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be attached to Impasse, and I have every confidence we made the right decision. Jen Fontaine is absolutely perfect for the role, and when I watched her reel the other night, the thought came unbidden to my mind that she would have always made a better Alice. I’m so happy she is taking it on. The film as a whole will be stronger for her participation.

Thank you to our friends and supporters who have been with us every step of the way. Forgive me for my departure. I can assure you Impasse is continuing full speed ahead and will be a high-quality short that will resonate for years to come.


Only you can determine what balance you need in your life…”

Read Jeanne’s beautiful follow up post on finding a life-work balance in this week’s Script Mag article.

Posted on June 14, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. My heart goes out to you, your dad, and Paul.

  2. Wonder, our family wishes you and your family the best healing and comfort possible. You are a great talent, and have plenty to share. For now, the world will wait. Give what you have to share with those around you who need you right now. I met Elliott Gould last week and he said” The only value we have is what we have to share with others.”

    You are very valuable.

  3. May all the smiles you’ve given the world come back to you and those you love. Best thoughts for health, comfort, recovery, and happiness.

  4. Billy Tierney

    I don’t know what to offer, partially because words on the internets don’t do justice to real world feelings and thoughts, but I am sending love and well-wishes to you and your Father and Paul. Your love and compassion is great and I think the world appreciates your openness and vulnerability in such difficult situations. Wishing you and your family the best, and sending heaps of positivity to you all from Bellingham,

  5. My heart is with you, Wonder.

  6. My thoughts are with you and your family. Take courage, friend!

  7. Wonder, C.S. Lewis said, “God Who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain, but without stain.” Sending loving prayers and praise. Judy and Ted.

  8. Christine Watkins

    Wonder, my dear, life comes at us with hardship, turmoil and challenge. You are brave, strong, noble and amazing. You will ache with your heart on your sleeve, but you will embrace this step in your life with truth and grace. I am amazed to know you, and thankful for you. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.


  9. Darling Wonder, All our prayers and hope and love will be with you and your family and loved ones. We met you a few times in Tennesse at New Beginning and knew you were special. and beauitful. The trial you are going through now makes you ever more beautiful befor God.
    Courage and love and prayer to you, your Dad and Mom , Levi and to Paul.

    With love always, Gail and James Hudak

  10. Wonder,
    You are in my thoughts and prayers. As are your father, Paul, and your family. Your strength gives me strength. And hope. I know you have the support you need. Keep reaching out. We are here for you.
    ~ David and Angela

  11. Dearest Wonder, thank you for sharing are well loved and respected, an inspiration to so many hearts.I’m praying…xo

  12. Wonder, I can easily see why Dad and Mom gave you your name. Your strength, your committment to God and family is truly a wonder to behold. I am hoping to come and see you, Mom and Levi soon. Our love, prayers and thoughts go with you at this very difficult tme. Your Dad was an amazing man and a close friend that I will never forget. His wonderful legacy lives on in you and Levi. With love and prayers.


  13. Not sure HOW I missed such an important post, I guess I haven\’t been on Facebook or keeping up with you as much lately. I am sorry times are difficult, my dear. I love you, I\’m praying for you. You are the strongest woman I know.

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