Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Loss and Grief and Writing About It

This is a terrible story.  The Andrade family has my deepest condolences.

On the loss of his son Julian, San Antonio police officer Jose Andrade said, "It's very difficult; it's the hardest thing I think anyone can go through. I think it's the hardest thing in life. I don't think there's anything harder."

Before I became a parent, I could understand this in a detached, almost academic fashion. After all, I've been familiar with grief.  We've all lost somebody.

Now that I'm a dad, I don't think I could ever understand the breadth of the Andrade family's loss, and I pray that I never have to.

I've talked publicly about adoption before, here and elsewhere.  In those pieces, I've touched briefly on our failed adoption, where we took the baby home, cared for him for a night and a day, and got a call from the agency that the birth mother changed her mind and decided to parent instead.  The details of that experience are too personal to put in writing.  It was extremely difficult, even life-changing, and not entirely in a good way.

But it wasn't the same as the death of one's child.  I suspect it's not even close.

I did reference that experience in my novel The Blessed Man and the Witch.  To illustrate one of the symptoms of a strained marriage, I had my protagonist Hector deal with something similar.  It became a triggering event in his past, and the implications of it have stretched into the novel's sequel (which I'm still writing).  This is not to say that it is the defining moment for him; after all, he's as complicated a figure as any person, and as such is subject to many significant experiences.  But it did mark him and push him in a certain direction.

On Thursday, April 16, my short story Hold On will be published on Liberty Island.  Unlike my other material, it doesn't deal with the bizarre, horrific, or supernatural in any way, though it is set in the near future.  The story addresses themes of marriage, parenting, and loss within the context of America's current illegal immigration crisis.  As always, the intent is to tell a good story, not proselytize, and I believe I've done that with Hold On.

Sometimes, losing someone doesn't make you stronger.  The cracks don't always get repaired.  And the universe doesn't just stop when you're grieving, even though it should.

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