Just last week, I dreamed about my grandmother. We called her Momo. I was very close to her and losing her, several years ago, was difficult. Most of the time, I don't think of her. Her memory doesn't loom over me or haunt me, but only comes to mind occasionally, causing me to pause to try to think of her voice. In my dream, upon discovering she was alive, I exuberant ran into her arms to embrace her. And that's when the dream ended. I suddenly awoke and was catching my breath, perhaps even hyperventilating a bit, audibly swallowing air, and praying that my wife not wake up.
But there were no tears. Those tears have been shed.
Other deaths have occurred, and with them there have been tears. Tears for my sisters in Christ. Tears for those lost in a tragic storm. Tears for my mother-in-law. Tears for my great uncle. But they don't always come immediately or conveniently. Often they occur in front of strangers. In front of an audience. Or alone with my wife.
For years, I have been fascinated with people's tearful responses. As a "people observer", I have seen people turn against God for "taking" this person or that person. I have seen people turn on the church for not responding to their personal losses to their satisfaction. I have seen people wallow in their losses, each year citing the anniversary of a death and spending the day (or days) dreading said anniversary.
As this blog is about my books and about writing, we'll get to that part now. If you ever get around to reading my books, you will notice the common theme of death weaves through them all. That's not by design; it's simply because the books, so far, have attempted to draw readers in at a very personal and transformational moment - the moment when a character must deal with the loss of a very close friend of relative. In Crumbling Spirit and in Mumsket, as in Chippin Cleats, death enters by the hands of other humans. I Out of the Wind, death is the result of natural phenomenon. In some cases, the death is sudden and unexpected; in others, it is predictable. In every instance, the reaction of the characters is more interesting than the loss itself.
In all instances in my writing, my characters are weakened, but ultimately strengthened and improved as a result of the tragedies described. They tend to question God - or even argue with Him. They are angry at God. They lash out at Him. And then they admit their losses. They turn about and acknowledge God through prayer and the realization that they must move beyond their current situations. In some cases, they do not cry until they come to this realization. The effect is dramatic, but I believe it is also very realistic to the characters I have written. While the process may be shortened in my novels, I still think I have been true to reality in my writing.
As for me, I am a writer. I always have been. Since I was a child, I have written to cope with loss, the first time at the loss of a great grandmother by natural causes. In that writing, I wondered why people send flowers to a wedding to celebrate, and then also send flowers to a funeral. Confused by death, I asked questions that have never been (and probably can't be) answered. Writing helps me work through difficult issues of loss, anger, and love. Expressing myself on the written page (or in a computer's word processor) is a natural coping mechanism to keep me balanced and focused, and it gets me back on track to deal with the more "boring" sections of daily life.
Those mysterious ways of dealing with sudden tragedy, however, remain a mystery, and the ways in which we all deal with them are intriguing. I don't think we will ever exhaust all of the stories those moments bring.