Today we honor Bobbi Hughes-Millman
My earliest memory is of sitting on a hard floor in a sterile room, my attention focused on a colorful wooden toy. A woman in white lifted me into her arms and carried me to a window. Once there, she pointed at the glass and told me to ‘look.’ I remember my heart racing with hope that I would see Them. I was too young to clearly articulate who Them was.
As I peered down through the window, I saw three women in flowing sheets of black cloth, waving in the wind while they made their way to the door. My heart sank with despair, the deepest form of emptiness a person could know or realize. It wasn’t them.
I didn’t learn until many years later that I had spent much of my first three years in and out of a catholic hospital with attacks of asthmatic pneumonia. This confirmed the women in black, who were obviously nuns.
As an adult, my mother confided to me that my father only allowed her to visit on weekends. Then she explained how my father had been ‘detained’ by pressing personal business right before one of those asthma attacks, a delay of several hours before making the trip to the hospital. By the time we arrived, she said, they were told I wouldn’t live through the night. Last rights were given and my father then insisted they leave, expecting to receive a call once I passed from this world. But, by morning light, I was still there, fighting to breathe, fighting to live, and struggling to escape, once more, from the oxygen tent tied to the rails of my hospital bed. And I succeeded. I lived. And I escaped. As many times as they captured me and returned me to my bed, I escaped.
By the age of four, my lungs grew strong enough to enjoy life without so many restrictions on my mobility. And that’s when I learned to take off. The world was mine to hold and to finally explore.
For many years, I didn’t know what that feeling of emptiness from my earliest memory meant, why I remembered that moment so clearly, or why I never told another person about it other than my husband. All I knew was that it was the moment in time that defined the rest of my life in so many ways.
Much of my youth was spent focusing my attention toward the window, peering outside with hope that someone would come take me away whenever life became tough. And like the child, I developed coping mechanisms to draw my attention toward thoughts that allowed a place for my frail spirit to hide. A place far from neglect and abuses you don’t speak of with friends or strangers. I learned how to play in my mind and create a world that was safe and mine to change as I pleased. Eventually, I found a favorite outlet through writing.
At nine-years-old I poured my soul into all I was asked to put on paper. Yet, as my world continued to turn, just as worlds always do, I found my life growing more and more complicated. Drawing into oneself isn’t always effective at chasing away monsters. I was a social person at heart. One who didn’t know the meaning of subtlety. But then, I became a teenager.
At thirteen, each paper I was charged with writing for English came back with too many red lines and poorly articulated criticisms. More rejection and more emptiness set in. There was little from my instructor to encourage me or to constructively correct my grammar. My thirteen-year-old soul couldn’t take it. I was not a writer, and just as I did with all of the other challenges in my life, I turned from everything requiring prose.
Although I couldn’t see myself as a writer anymore, I still had a dream, a vision that, one day, I would be successful at something. In my mind, there was an option. There was the military and an opportunity to move beyond a labor job and into a career. For someone like me, only the Marines would do.
Now, for any one of you who believes that going to boot camp is like walking up to the gates of hell and asking to be let in, you are absolutely correct. From the moment you step off the bus there is someone in your face, tearing you down so they can eventually build you back up into one of them. At the time, I thought this was the worst mistake I could have ever chosen to make. While in the moment, I couldn’t see the final result. Now, I can see that I learned so much in the 3 years I was in the Marine Corps. My greatest lesson was that, if I could make it through basic training, I could do anything I set my mind to. Following that mindset, I went back to school.
By the time I’d finished a Philosophy degree (with Pre-Law emphasis), I was ready. Ready to finish what began as a child. This time when I peered through the window, I wasn’t searching for someone to save me. I was searching for my next great adventure. And I set out to make it epic.
My new life began by securing a position in the editorial department with Shepard’s-McGraw/Hill Publishing Company. From there, I was hired by the Screen Actors Guild to be a regional contracts administrator in Denver, Colorado. Eventually, I was promoted to an executive director for the state of Nevada.
It was then that I started writing again. Nearly twenty years later.
I began by writing a rough draft of my first novel, Darkest Frost, that I sent to Producer/Director Robert E. Weimer of Star Trek: Next Generation and Deep Space 9. He saw in my manuscript a story that could be adapted for television and hoped to produce it himself. But a friend at Warner Brothers suggested that getting the novel published would put the series in a better position to be picked up by a studio. So, I went to work at getting my story published.
Rejection after rejection came in and I grew discouraged, but not beaten. Not one to allow windows or railings to get in my way, I put the first book down and started on the second then the third and finally an eighth book spilled onto the hard drive of my computer. Once the final page was written of what would eventually be called Purgatory’s Angel, I knew this was the one. While I set out to find a publisher for Purgatory’s Angel, I wrote another novel in a new series.
I did find a home for my Dark Angel series and look forward to finishing edits soon for Resurrection’s Angel, second in this series. I teach online to French professionals who want to improve their English and especially their English grammar. In my lessons, I always correct their errors while telling them that each correction is not a mistake, but an opportunity to grow and improve. Along the way, I tell them how well they’re doing and give them the instruction I would’ve thrived under, knowing I can make the difference in their world while giving them a welcomed break in their day.
Now, when I look out the window, I see the world that is, the beauty that surrounds me, and I smile. The emptiness in my heart has been filled with a deep love of the life that is, that’s real, that truly exists, a feeling that had evaded me for so many years. Through the many hardships I’ve known throughout my life, the loss of a daughter at age 25, the loss of my father then my mother just this year, I still find myself searching for the good in life and in others and not for anyone or anything to take me from the reality that life is. Be it terrible or beautiful, I’ve learned that every moment is worth examining through the spectacles of honest reflection.
Thank you Bobbi for being such a wonderful friend to so many and sharing your story. We are honored to know you and love your heart.
Bobbi Hughes-Millman YOU are One Tough Muther!