Back in 1999 I was, in technical terms, a mess. I’d decided to get my fiancee visa to move from Canada to the US to marry my sweet Wookie, the man I met through my X-Files fandom and fanfiction. To say there was a lot of paperwork was an understatement – including having to buy a house in Pennsylvania without actually seeing the house and making sure we had the receipt for wedding rings to show the U.S. Government that we were serious about being married.
Then I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
A bad Pap smear turned into one treatment and then another and finally a cone biopsy scheduled…. soon. My doctor said maybe three, maybe six months to get an appointment to see not only if the cancer was still there but if it’d spread.
Yeah, I was a mess. And in the middle of it I’m packing up my life, dealing with my mother/roommate and working a full-time job as a security officer in a computer warehouse.
Needless to say every day was a series of trials and tribulations as I waited for the paperwork, waited for the doctor to call, waited for something, anything to happen.
A majority of the warehouse workers were Somali immigrants, hustling boxes in and out of tractor-trailers every day. We knew each other but not too much because I was supposed to keep a distance from them for security reasons. But it was no secret I was planning to leave and go to the US to get married.
And that I might have cancer.
One day I ran into Mohammed in the breakroom. He was reheating his meal and I was daring to get a cup of coffee – the industrial-strength type that peeled the paint off of cars. We exchanged pleasantries and I thought that was the end of the conversation.
“How are you doing?” he asked. “I know you’re not… well.”
I was used to this type of wording from the workers because many of them were intrigued at seeing a woman in uniform and working in security. Not to mention in her 30’s and still single!
“I’m fine. Thank you.”
Mohammed nodded. “I want you to know that we’re all praying for you.” He gestured at the window leading to the warehouse floor. “We’re all praying for you to be well.”
I was speechless. I knew the majority of workers were Muslim because I’d seen them on my security cameras stop working and go pray.
Mohammad had also asked me about the Pope’s recent visit, noting he was a “Very Holy Man”, to which I agreed.
But this was much more than that.
“Thank you.” It was all I could get out, not wanting to start crying there in the break room.
He smiled and took his food out of the microwave to go and sit with his friends.
A few weeks later my doctor called and said he’d managed to get me an earlier appointment for the cone biopsy. And my visa came through with only one speed bump as I raced overnight to Montreal and back to Toronto to get my passport visa stamped. In 2000 I came down to the US and got married.
Now, with all the bafflegab going around about Muslims, all I can think about is a group of men who barely knew me, who knew I was definitely Christian and a woman and having medical issues.
And they prayed for me.
On a professional note – 2015 has been good but 2016 is going to be crazy better!
And… tentatively scheduled for June and October… TWO books with St. Martin’s Press/Swerve imprint, both books being sexy menages!
And… because that’s not enough… at some point I’ll be producing a three-book series with Entangled Publishing!
So keep on keeping on and looking forward to a great new year!