When I write I have to recognize and find ways to make others feel a myriad of emotions. I want my readers to become the characters, to experience everything the character experiences, even when it’s fear or frustration.
Grief was uppermost in my mind this week as we celebrated the life of one of my best friends. The outpouring of love brought closure to her family. But it opened old wounds for me.
Grief is not a stranger. I was a child when my little brother died of leukemia. The adults in the house assumed I was too young to feel the loss. But children grieve. They just show it in different ways. I remember finding a picture I had drawn in the first grade. My brother was gone by then, but in the picture I drew my family. He was still there. Smiling.
My parents are gone, as is my only sister. Losing her was difficult because she was my confidante, the rational voice I always turned to when I had a serious problem. Attending the memorial service for my friend brought all that back, making me realize how lonely we can be, even when we have family and friends who love us and do their best to console us when we cannot be consoled.
My friend, my sister, and even my mother were fighters, battling cancer that couldn’t be stopped. But when I think of the joy they brought into the lives of others I have to reflect on whether the grief I feel is warranted. They were compassionate listeners, positive thinkers. They got things done. They motivated people to be better than they thought they could be.
Even though they were taken far too soon, they left a huge impression on those who knew them. They’ll be remembered far into the future.
I write romance novels because I like happy endings. But if a character loses someone I know how it feels. A void in my heart echoes my heartbeats until a torrent of emotion fills my chest and it hurts so much I think I will never breathe again. Then I remember everything good about the person who is gone and know she is not truly lost to me…just the body. Not the spirit. Not the legacy.
And I feel better again.