The Mark Blog


It’s easy to get wrapped up in life. But then death happens within your circle of family and friends and the every-day-living routine is broken. Death calls for a pause.

On a macro level, sports fans in Los Angeles are acknowledging loss with the passing of Laker’s owner Jerry Buss. On a micro level, this past week has been heavy with people passing: a friend’s mother, a cousin, and a writing friend and past Emerging Voices fellow, Robbie Frandsen.

Prior to The Mark program, I was in (and plan to return to) a writing group led by Bernadette Murphy. Robbie is the second member of our group to pass away within a six-month period. In the midst of the hustle-and-bustle of life, I was not expecting all of this death. Even though I realize we’re all mortal, and that it’s a part of nature, I’m stupidly surprised each time it happens. Especially with Robbie. One of the last times I saw her we had lemon cake, celebrating her return from surgery.

I met Robbie in the winter of 2004 when we both took Bernadette’s nonfiction writing class through UCLA Extension Writers' Program. I was an Emerging Voices Fellow at the time. A year later, she was in the EV program, working on a nonfiction book that was quite moving. A couple of years later, we both found ourselves in Bernadette’s Thursday evening writers’ group. I always appreciated Robbie’s insightful comments on both writing and life. The book she was working on brought me to tears many times. She had an easy way about her prose. Incorporating factual information seamlessly into a story came as second nature to her––at least she made it seem that way.

Robbie’s recent passing reminds me of the delicate matter of life. It also reminds me to put daily matters into perspective, to be kind to myself and others. And I am reminded, once again, to be grateful for all of the wonderful people in my life. Within the context of my writing life, the Emerging Voices program enabled me to meet people who became friends, and still are friends almost a decade later.

I am thankful I knew Robbie, an amazing person and writer.

Late Fragment by Raymond Carver

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.