Today marks thirteen months since the release of my book, Learning to Float: Memoir of a Caregiver-Husband. In the memoir, I describe the challenges I faced, lessons learned, and love experienced as my wife’s caregiver while she recovers from a stroke suffered in August 2005. It is based on contemporaneous emails written to let friends and family know what was happening and as a means for me to figure out what I was experiencing and feeling.
I didn’t think it would make much money, an assumption that unfortunately, has proven all too accurate. If money was the motivation, I would choose to write in a fiction genre that required considerably less emotional vulnerability, and more sales potential, than memoir. I wrote the book in the hopes might help others in similar situations.
To help spread the word, and encourage sales, I have sought out opportunities to do readings and make presentations in bookstores, community centers, libraries, service club meetings, basically any place willing to host an event. Some have been well attended; others, less so. Whether sixty people or six are in the audience, however, I experience both an excitement to be able to share my story and the hope it resonates with at least one person. I am dropping pebbles in the water, allowing the ripples to flow out in ever-increasing patterns.
I feel no responsibility for the impact, if any, of my words or my book. I have hopes and desires, but what happens if people attend one of my presentations or read the book, or merely hear about it from another person is beyond my control. Similarly, while I would prefer doing presentations to large numbers of people (all of whom are potential book buyers,) I am equally gratified when any body shows up. That single person sitting alone for the presentation may be exactly the right one to hear my presentation. What I have to say may be the key to help him, or her, become a more compassionate, more effective, more loving caregiver. That person may be the means by which my message gets out to the multitude or I sell thousands of books. So, my energy, my focus is the same regardless of the size of my audience.
This is not to say I have not been disappointed when only five or seven people come to my presentation. Of course, at times I have been. At the same time, I am grateful for the opportunity afforded by the conversation with those few. I am honored they thought what I had to say was worth their time. And so, I greet them with friendship and openness, invite them into my world, and throw some more pebbles into the water.