I wrote a short story. But this one is far divergent from anything I’ve ever written. It’s sci-fi, different from my usual mystery-thrillers. It’s written in the voice of a teenager, again not my norm, but some things put you in that headspace. My other novels were plotted, scrutinized for ebb and flow. This poured out of me.
This tore me apart.
Because the entire story IS me, though in a metaphorical sense. It’s everything I felt after I lost my father.
It’s about rage, because some horrid, omnipotent creature stole someone you love. About the pointlessness of it all, the horror, the fear of moving on in this huge, scary world without someone who has always been your rock, whose mere presence was enough to convince you that things were going to be okay. It’s about how loss has the ability to drag you back to when you were most vulnerable. How feeling abandoned rips your guts out and reduces you to this childlike space where you just want to throw a tantrum because you cannot fathom how else to actually deal with those big feelings. It’s about the way I obsessed over finding the people who got his organs, these little pieces of him that someone got to use but that would always kinda be my dad.
This story is about loss and grief and heartache.
But it’s also about the way my dad used to make me smile. About the way he always joked around, the way he could laugh harder than anyone I’ve ever met. The way he loved poker and olives and puns. How he had the uncanny ability to turn negatives into positives. About how I grew up knowing I was worth it, that I could be anything. It’s about how, every day, I try my damnedest to be the person he’d have wanted me to be.
It’s about loss and grief and heartache. But it’s also about love.
I wish I could say that grieving stops, that the pain goes away, but grief is not really a thing that ever disappears. I imagine that I will sob many years into the future on Christmas eve, as I did this year, wishing I could hear his voice again. And in five years or ten years, on the days when the sorrow is as fresh and poignant as it was the day it happened, on the nights when I feel hollowed out like someone punched me in the gut—I will accept it.
My father lived his life well—he made sure I knew love. He made sure I had something worth grieving. Grief is not some horrendous, fearful thing for me, not anymore. Today, the pain means I was once loved well enough to make it mean something. And that I would not trade for the world.
For all who have loved and lost…this is for you. (For more, check out On the Loss of a Parent: Grief from Love and 10 Things I Learned in the Year After My Father's Death.)
From the Back Cover:
Be brave, little girl. Daddy’s here.
As far as thirteen-year-old Katie is concerned, her world might as well revolve around her father. But lately, things have been strange on their North Dakota ranch. It’s not like Daddy to miss a private joke or forget to read a bedtime story to baby Jack. And the cattle are acting funny, too. Just last night, they woke Katie up with their bellowing. Or maybe that was part of her nightmare, the one with the brilliantly purple sky.
But dream or no, Katie is sure something’s wrong. She can feel it between her shoulder blades, like a pair of clammy flingers climbing up her spine. Nevertheless, she has faith that she and Daddy can fix it. There’s never been a problem they couldn’t solve, as long as they had each other.
But Katie’s about to find out that some things are too horrifying to understand, let alone fix.
It’s a brave new world out there.
And in this world, bravery can’t save you.... continue reading