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Biography of a Woman (fiction)

A fictional account of the life of a woman whom I’ve never met.

It’s hard to know where to begin when tasked with writing the biography of someones life. This task increases ten fold when you take into the consideration that the person is only 33 years old and has already accomplished so much. But stories must be told regardless of how hard they may be. Here is the story of Michelle Gray.

Michelle’s life started out like the life of your average” North American woman. She was born just outside of New York in a small place called Plainfield into a family consisting of a mother, father, brother (3 years older), 2 sets of grandparents and no aunts or uncles. Her arrival into this world was without any type of complication and she was a healthy baby girl named Michelle Roseland1 Gray.

Throughout her childhood and into her teen years Michelle lived the life a typical girl should, as depicted in so many horrible Hollywood movies. She was spoiled rotten by her grandparents, was picked on by her brother on a daily basis, was cherished by her father as she was daddy’s little girl”, and played with her Barbie dolls with friends. This was Michelle’s daily life, all that she knew, until one day when she was 16 something happened that would change her life as she knew it. At the time of it happening she didn’t know of the importance of what took place but as she grew up and became more mature and aware she began to realize the seriousness of it all.

From this point on Michelle could never look at the world the same. For the first six months Michelle spent a fair amount of time with her brother, as she didn’t know what to do. Mostly Michelle stayed indoors as she just wasn’t sure how to deal with the world and felt it was just easier to hide from everyone she knew, with her brother by her side to help her through things. And as for Michelle’s parents, they too were having a hard time dealing with things but for them the problem had an entirely different meaning.

During the first six months Michelle had the occasional visitor but generally refused to talk to anyone. Some who knew her well would have said she was in denial, other who knew her better would have said she was taking it well, but luckily both groups of people were wrong.

After six months Michelle’s state-of-being changed. No longer was she hiding in the house, in fact, 95% of the time she wasn’t even home. She was out with her brother, friends and family living life, but never with her parents. Her parents remained at home removed from her day-to-day life. Although she loved her parents very much she would never forgive them for what happened in the recent past and because of this she often kept her distance only interacting with them when only absolutely necessary.

Michelle started doing more and more each and every day, and the day she graduated from high school she packed up her life into a single bag and started to travel. She was on a mission.

Michelle started traveling from country to country, trying to meet people just like her. She was seeking out answers to what they had gone through and how others had coped. Slowly she started to meet a few individuals just life herself, who at one point in their life were give the same type of news as she had been given and as a result lead similar lives. As she talked with these individuals Michelle because to understand that she had nothing to fear and that by doing so all she was doing was limiting her life. She realized what she needed to do.

Michelle finished meeting with the few people she wanted to meet, traveling far and wide to do so. She met with each one and then went on her way. When she had said goodbye to the last individual she took a moment just to sit and think to herself. Michelle needed to take some time to think of what she was to do next, for herself but more importantly (to her) for a broader range of people. She then began to think about the hundreds or thousands of other people in the world just like herself that just didn’t know it. The ones that took their bad news and ran with it in one direction, the opposite direction that Michelle chose to run.

You see, the news that Michelle received back when she was 16 (at this point in her story she was 23) was that she had a terminal illness (the illness itself isn’t important) without a cure and that she only had nine months to live. Michelle hid for the first six months after getting this news, hiding from the world, not wanting to live, and then she realized that regardless of how long or short a life she had it was worth living. This is the point when she decided to go out and meet others around the globe that were diagnosed with a life span of no more than a year, who still were alive long after they should have past. She wanted to know why they, like her, were still alive. While on her journey she continued to be tested, and year after year the doctors always gave her the same diagnosis, 6-12 months. This is why Michelle started the next leg of her journey.

Michelle started seeking out the people who had been diagnosed (many of them children), who lost all hope and who had given-in long before their lives even began.

It isn’t that Michelle wanted to save the world, that’s ridiculous, she knew that she didn’t have the ability to do that, but what she did have the ability to do was possibly make a difference in the life of a single person by helping them to realize what was important in life.

So Michelle traveled, talked and with each stop and every conversation she learned something about herself along the way. When she had felt she had done what she needed to do she headed home to Plainfield, New York, USA.

She talked with her brother about her journey but not her parents. Michelle never forgave her parents for accepting the fate the doctors laid out for her and trying to push her to prepare for a better life on the other side”. There was no way anyone could forgive their parents for doing the same.

From here Michelle didn’t know what to do; was she to find a typical job or look for something much more? She was unsure at the time.

Eventually Michelle started to write a book about her journey while working at a florist trying to pay the bills and the massive amount of debt she had from her travels. She wrote and she wrote and eventually she finished her book. She self published it only sold one copy to her brother. Michelle didn’t care, she wasn’t doing it for the money, she was doing it for herself.

She sent a copy to each person she visited during her journey and she even sent a copy to her parents. Michelle’s story was as much about all of them as it was about her.

Years past and Michelle continued to work jobs here and there, simply because she lived a happy life and found pleasure in the people around her. She continued to travel from time to time and often revisited the people she met earlier in life during her journey. When she turned 29 Michelle married a man whom she fell deeply in love with and would spend the remainder of her life with.

At the age of 33 (as in the picture shown) Michelle returned to the doctors for the first time in 10 years. You see, Michelle had given up on the doctors for their, what she considered, incompetence, and she never returned to the doctors until the day she found out she was pregnant. It was of the happiest day of her life.

While at the doctors she was informed that she no longer was terminally ill, but that didn’t matter to her, she stopped being ill in her mind when she was sixteen years old, after the doctors told her she would die.

Nine months later, days after she gave birth to her beautiful daughter Jessica, Michelle past away one evening in her sleep without warning. Her death had nothing to do with giving birth, but rather, Michelle past away from the same terminal illness that the doctors said she had when she was sixteen but was clear from only nine months ago.

When Jessica turned sixteen her dad gave her a copy of her mother’s book. Jessica opened it to begin to read, but before she could begin a piece of paper fell out which read:

I woke up one day and realized life is worth living. I understood that regardless of what anyone else said my life way my own and it was mine to control.

From that point on I refused to sit by the wayside and not be the person I knew I was. I refused to believe in fate knowing that only I could control my life.

I got up and lived my life to its fullest, in the end with no regrets.

I only hope that each day when you wake you can view the world in the same light.

This is where Michelle’s story ended and her daughter’s began.


  1. after her grandmother on her father’s side↩︎

February 28, 2010 52Weeks fiction Notes


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Observations (film) Urban life can pass by quicker than time itself. If we are not intentional about slowing down our pace, to give attention to the spaces we interact