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Glass half full

Local author publishes e-memoir about life, death and love


Chastity Glass is beautiful. by: VERN UYETAKE - Chastity Glass

Her blonde hair falls in waves, just barely grazing her tanned shoulders. She wears glasses, sometimes, and her unlined face is rarely without a small, comforting smile. She looks like she could be a surfer, or possibly a librarian.

What sets her apart from the scores of other blonde, tan and happy 30-somethings from California is a poem tattooed on her right forearm:

“i am scared

of being scared...

and so,

I am not

even if i am.”

She was 27 years old, living in Hollywood and recently dumped when she met Anthony Glass, a handsome video editor who worked at her office. They were instantly attracted to each other, exchanging poetic and increasingly flirtatious emails and quickly falling in love. Just a few months after they started dating, their love story, a story of what she calls “that young 20s love when you start making plans,” was unexpectedly and indelibly altered.

He was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer.

When he told her, she didn’t think twice about whether to stay with him: they were in this together.

“When Anthony was going through treatment, we would call each other co-patient,” she said. “You really do sort of become one, making sure the medication has been taken at the right time...I’m doing everything except for fighting the disease.”

The two got engaged. Although she knew that he was in the fight of his life, she believed he would win, until she realized he could not.

“It wasn’t as simple as a cold; I knew it was going to be a hard road, but I didn’t know just how hard,” she said. “Especially with him being 30, we continued on this young, new love phase...and then the cancer never got better.”

Knowing that their time together in life was running out, they moved up the date of their wedding and got married on July 26, 2006. Even though he was too weak to get out of bed, he said that it was the best day of his life.

The next morning, at the age of 31, he died.

Glass sought comfort from the person who had always been able to make her feel better, Anthony himself.

“The day he died, I needed to be reminded that I was loved,” Glass said, tearing up in spite of herself. “For Christmas, he kept every single email we had ever written to each other and made a book of it. And so when he died, I turned to page “July 27” and reread the email that he wrote to me.”

That email, penned exactly one year before he died and titled “even if i am.,” was a poem to her about his fight with cancer and his undying love for her. It served as the inspiration for her tattoo and, along with all the other emails they had ever sent to each other, the impetus for her e-memoir, which she gave the same name.

She had his book of emails, but there was still work to be done.

When you lose someone, you’re certain you forgot to do cer- tain things or say certain things and writing made me realize that maybe I didn’t say I love you enough, and so I’m writing it to him now.”

Now, she said, “I realize that I did say it enough, or that maybe I didn’t say it enough, but he knew. It sort of helps me to process those regrets or those mistakes or those memories and know that they’ll always sort of be with me.”

Glass initially tried to remain in Los Angeles, but it quickly became apparent that she needed to get some physical and emotional distance from what she had gone through in order to write her story, so she packed her bags and started traveling.

Ultimately, she ended up on Martha’s Vineyard. “I needed to go somewhere and be landlocked,” she recalled. “I stayed there for eight months and finished [the book] four years from the day that Anthony passed. That’s when I knew, okay, I’m ready to live somewhere. And I chose Portland.”

Having visited friends who lived there in the past, she already knew that she liked Portland, calling it “that beautiful mix of... the family values and the seasons that I love about my [Minnesota] hometown and the culture and food from Los Angeles.”

Portland also had another attraction: Grant Roesler.

Roesler had just graduated from high school when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a diagnosis that forced him to miss going to college and sharing a dorm room with his best friend. He eventually went into remission, but the experience had left him with an existential restlessness, an urgent need to celebrate his second chance at life by giving something back.

In 2008, he co-founded Oncology Youth Connection, a non- profit for young adults with cancer. Three years later, he got a call from Glass, who had read about OYC in the newspaper and was interested in volunteering with the organization.

“I needed to see the positive side of cancer. I needed to meet survivors who made it, and know that they were doing great things with their lives,” she said. “I was so attracted to Grant [because] he would give anything he has if it would help one person sort of go through that transition.”

“Having both gone through something so hard, we just under- stand each other on a level that I find remarkable,” Glass added.

After dating for less than a year, they got engaged. But before they could marry, there was something that Roesler needed to do.

“He read the book,” Glass recalled. “When he was done it took him about a week to process it all, and he asked me, I need to know that I’m not second. And the only way I could describe it was, I don’t feel like you’re second. I feel like every road has lead me to you.”

They were married in April and now reside in Multnomah. Glass wouldn’t have it any other way.

“There’s this simplicity to it that’s built around community, and your perspectives don’t get lost here,” she said. “My neighbor has lived there for 20 years, and her 98-year-old father lives across the street. They yell back and forth to each other instead of calling on the phone or something. I create scenarios of what they could possibly be yelling back and forth.”

“I feel like there’s so many creative people here that it just sort of pulses this energy and makes you feel like, oh man, she’s creating some great stuff, I should be creating some great stuff,” she says. “It’s an amazing little pocket of Portland.”

The e-memoir “even if i am” will be released this month, avail- able on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, but the story is just beginning. Chastity is working up to writing a second book and has something else in mind for the future as well:

“Part of why we picked the area is, it was such a family community, and we thought it would foster our own want and need for a family,” she said. “I’d love to think about a family and start some of those paths that I wish I could have had in my 20s.”

With tears in her eyes, Glass speaks of the most profound thing in her life: love.

“When Grant came along, I felt really blessed because people search their whole lives to find their soul mate, and for whatever reason I was blessed with two,” she said.

“No matter how much you plan for it, life will take you on a journey you never expected.”

by: VERN UYETAKE - Chastity Glass, author of the e-memoir 'even if i  am.' with her husband Grant Roesler.