I’m a huge fan of Katherine Hepburn not just as an actress, but as a woman. If you haven’t watched the original Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart you should.

The thing I like about her personally is her straight shooting spunkiness and some quotes of hers rank among my favorites. Such as ”Life is hard. After all it kills you” and “Life can be wildly tragic at times, and I’ve had my share. But whatever happens to you, you have to keep a slightly comic attitude. In the final analysis, you have got not to forget to laugh”.

”Life is hard. After all it kills you”

Sometimes the challenges that life offers up do more than simply flatten you – sometimes they kill the person you are. You keep walking around, but you’re just a shell because your spirit has been snuffed out. This has happened to me two times. The first was when I was eighteen and my mother’s twelve year campaign to eradicate my spirit, will, personality, whatever finally succeeded and I went away for a while and became the mousy, beaten down creature she’d strived for.

But I came back. I owe that in large part to the birth of my son. Everything changes when you become a mom and I needed to be the person I was meant to be instead of the person my mother had distorted me into if I was going to be a good mom and set a good example for him.

The second time my spirit was killed was when my son died. In the blink of an eye I lost him and I lost me and both were tragic. He was gone and the bubbly, happy me was gone too. I couldn’t get him back, but based on his deep love and respect for me I was determined to get me back. It took six years before I started seeing flashes of joy and mirth and person I had once been.

The first resurrection required unlearning stupid things taught by my mom. The second required me trying to bring back an almost irreparably broken heart and spirit. To be honest I’m still working on both. I’m still scarred by both.

“Life can be wildly tragic at times, and I’ve had my share. But whatever happens to you, you have to keep a slightly comic attitude. In the final analysis, you have got not to forget to laugh”

I have always believed the ability to laugh at oneself is critical to surviving the disasters that befall us in life and I’m really good at it – with the exception of the two above referenced traumas. I pick myself up, often laugh at my own stupidity that may have contributed to the event and try to think that things always could have been worse. A small example of this is being hopelessly gridlocked in traffic because of an accident up ahead. I stop myself from getting frustrated and angry and remind myself I’m having a much better day than those who were involved in the accident.

I can apply this second coping skill to my first trauma – I had a father who loved me just as I was. How horrible would it have been if I had been born to two people as screwed up as my mom? Not sure I would be here talking had that been the case.

When it comes to losing a child there isn’t any “could have been worse” – it truly is the worst thing that can happen. As any person in my position would tell you, I would have gladly died in his place, but I wasn’t given that option.


I have friends who tell me I’m a survivor. I suppose I am, although I don’t really think of myself that way. Life isn’t meant to roll along with no troubles. We all have to find out how to come back from setbacks and disasters. I’m just more practiced than I lot of people. Not sure if that’s a good thing, but it certainly is a character builder.

My name

Brook Madsen isn’t my real name. I want to write with complete honesty about people both living and dead and I don’t feel I can do this under my own name. There are some people I don’t want to insult with what I really think and there are some people I still fear. I have suffered enough unwarranted verbal lashings in my life and will take a pass on them now by hiding my identity.

The name is very meaningful to me because of my son. If he would have been a girl I would have named him Brook. Then later in his life he wanted to change his last name and had picked Madsen because he was so proud of his Scandinavian heritage. So I write with pride under the pseudonym Brook Madsen.

All the names are changed in what I write, including my son’s. For him I chose Gabriel or Gabe for short.

And a motorcyclist

I suppose I should mention that I turned to travel and having experiences as a substitute for family (since I have none). It started with SCUBA diving, which required trips out of the country. So in 2006 I bought a motorcycle to make it possible for me to have fun here at home. I ended up with my much loved BMW F650GS that has now taken me to Colorado, California, Nevada, New England, Mexico, and Canada three times (I have fallen in love with the beautiful province of Quebec). Almost 60,000 miles of memorable travel.

Travel is what makes me happiest — now if I could only win the lottery so I could do more of it.


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