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Pamela Woodbury Carlquist, a former Park City High School English teacher who is a writing and literature instructor at the University of Utah and a volunteer at the Park City Medical Center, compiled letters she had written to God during one of the most difficult trials of her life into her new book, "Past the Pain." (Photos courtesy of David Anderson)
Pamela Woodbury Carlquist, a former Park City High School English teacher who is a writing and literature instructor at the University of Utah and a volunteer at the Park City Medical Center, experienced one of the most difficult trials of her life.

She and her husband of 27 years decided to separate, and the separation ended up in a divorce.

"It was a mutual agreement to separate, but I went through an awful lot of heartache when I realized that this was the end of our marriage," Carlquist said during an interview with The Park Record. "I wasn't able to sleep, and was going through a great-deal of grief."

One early morning, after a night of sleeplessness, Carlquist went to her study and wrote a letter to God, asking him to help her get through her desperation and bleakness.

"Of course, nothing happened, which I expected, but all of a sudden, I found myself writing more and more," she said.

The things Carlquist put down on paper seemed to be coming from within her, but also "beyond her," she said.

"The words were so wise and the process was so comforting that she continued to write these letters to God for a little more than a year," Carlquist said.

That "correspondence" became her new book, "Moving with God Past the Pain of Divorce, Death or Any Parting of Lives Once Joined."

On May 15, volunteers at the Park City Medical Center will host a book launch event for Carlquist. The date is significant for the writer because it's the birthday of her mother who passed away when Carlquist was 14.

"It seemed like the perfect day to release the book," Carlquist said.

Getting the book from hand-written letters to published form was a sacred journey for the author.

"All the dialog or correspondence, if you will, allowed me to ask a lot of questions and to allow the answers to those questions to come to me," she said. "I think all of us come into this life with a certain amount of baggage, and I, personally, felt that I've had a lot of baggage from the time I was a little girl. (All my life) I have yearned to put some of that baggage down."

Some of her baggage was compounded when Carlquist lost her father when she was 12 and her mother two years later.

"That had always been a handicap to me, but some of those answers that came within the course of writing the book helped me to understand that I would not trade those 12 and 14 years with those particular parents for 100 years with any others," she said. "I have learned that every experience, no matter how dark or how wonderful, is vital to our healing and evolution as people. And they have brought us to where we are now."

Throughout the past decade, Carlquist has learned to appreciate and celebrate everything in her life.

"At times, we do dig our heels in and try to resist things, but I have tried to come to see that every experience, including the separation and divorce, has been so fortuitous in my personal growth and development," she said.

In addition to Carlquist's own stories, "Move With God," which is available at Dolly's Bookstore, the Expanding Heart and as an eBook at www.amazon.com, contains experiences from others she has interviewed along the way.

"There are stories about people who have not only dealt with divorce, but have dealt with deaths of spouses, partners and children, relationship break ups and kidnappings," she said. "It contains all kinds of things that we consider loss, but I have since learned while I wrote out these stories, that there is no loss, and that you have the opportunity to find a perfection in everything.

"Yes, we can become closed, withered or withdrawn, or we can open ourselves up to each of these things and appreciate the gifts they will bring us by taking our trials and making them into triumphs," she said. "I believe that helps us lead peaceful lives for the most part."

Even so, publishing the book was a daunting endeavor.

"I honestly wasn't sure that I was going to do it," she said. "While it was very cathartic when I wrote it 10 years ago, I put it aside and got busy teaching at the high school and at the U."

Four years ago, Carlquist bucked up and sent it off to some publishers and received some offers.

"But something inside of me said I wasn't ready," she said. "I decided not to work with publishers and eventually went to publish it myself.

"That way I had more control and I worked with a graphic artist and proofreader, but also made sure it was the book that I wanted to be published," she said. "It had to be right, because there were a lot of things that are revealing about me, and I am vulnerable in it."

On the other hand, the book chronicles a period of time that was extraordinary for Carlquist.

"I went from a woman despairing to a woman empowered," she said. "And, even now, as I talk about my experiences to others, it's amazing how they open up to me and tell me that they needed to hear these stories to heal themselves.

"Every time I share something from the book, I take a little more stuff from my own baggage and lighten the load," she said.

Volunteers at the Park City Medical Center, 900 Round Valley Dr. at Quinn's Junction, will host book-launch party for Carlquist on Wednesday, May 15, at noon. Admission is free. On June 22, Dolly's Bookstore, 510 Main St., will host a book signing with Carlquist on June 22 from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.pamelacarlquist.com .