Near my area of the world, in a small Canadian town, a two-year-old girl and her father were just murdered. Although I’m a writer, I just can’t find the words to express my horror and sadness. The mom in me takes over. When my head hits the pillow, instead of sleeping I imagine (in glorious Technicolor) what their family must be going through. I imagine how I would feel if it was my own precious daughter. I lose myself in the land of fear. (Oh heck, who am I kidding? I’ve been living in that land almost exclusively since I became a mother. Am I alone in that?) I’ve often thought a healthy imagination is as much a curse as a blessing—especially at 3AM, when nothing stirs but the monsters in my head.
As a writer, I’m often asked where I get my ideas. There are many answers to this question, each a small morsel of a greater truth. But the largest, truest chunk of all is this: I write what I fear.
And what do I fear, most of all? What every parent fears: losing their child. In The Faithful I wrote about children being kidnapped, because this idea haunts the dark corners of my mind. I can only just begin to imagine the anguish of having your child disappear, of never knowing what happened to them. How do you go on? How do you survive in that limbo between faith and despair? I don’t know. But when those murky thoughts tangle around me, there’s only one thing I can do: Write about them. And in so doing, I usually find the exit ramp back to hope.
As Stephen King, the master of writing from fear, once said, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And a good thing never really dies.”
I’d like to believe that’s true. I’d like to believe, on dark days like this one, that there’s a new little girl on the other side of the darkness. She’s safe in her daddy’s arms, dancing and laughing and playing, and she knows a truth I’m still too blind to see: That good things never die.