I learned a new non-word recently — and by recently, I mean last night.

Blesson: the combination of both a blessing and a lesson.

I went to a playwriting meeting yesterday, but almost ended up staying home. I was slightly bummed out by recent (although accurate) feedback, and was really wanting to sleep in, lick my wounds, lounge around for a while and then get ready for the day in a leisurely manner. Because this was my preference, I did the exact opposite.

I showed up and, playwriting stuff aside, saw a woman who I’d last seen a number of months back — sometime in the fall. She seems to be a staple of the theater community, and has a lovely combination of charisma tempered by humility, as well as immense skill and knowledge balanced by kindness. She’s intimidatingly good at her craft, yet has managed to be a mentor to many at the same time.

She’s much older — probably nearing 80 — and when I saw her yesterday, she walked in with a cane and a new hairstyle. The hairstyle, as I looked more closely at it, looked like it could have been a wig. And it was. A gentleman leaned over to me during one of the breaks and explained who she was, although I already knew. 

“She’s been going through cancer treatment,” he said.

I asked him for how long, and he said it was going on six months or so. It looked like it had been much longer, although her spirits seemed to be the same as they always had been.

She’s the kind of woman to whom you’d dedicate a play — a play that you’d written, yes, but that she helped guide you through, and for which she might’ve participated in a reading… or five. She is theatrical excellence, and you get the sense that, no, they really don’t make them like her anymore. You know from talking to her that her talent is old-school, learned over the years — not something that was a happy accident that came to be overnight. She’s one of two people about whom I’ve consciously thought, “If I ever have a play produced, I’d dedicate it to her.” She is a blessing.

When I heard the word “blesson” last night, it dawned on me how ridiculous it was for the thought of not going to the meeting to have even crossed my mind. Getting tough feedback that I know is truthful isn’t hard. Cancer is hard. And here she is, dealing with it the way she’s likely dealt with everything throughout her long life: with grace, with poise and with the qualities that only a seasoned pro can possess.

And therein lies the blesson — a word which was learned on the day that the blesson was painfully obvious. And for this I am thankful.

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