Via my lousy cell phone connection, I had a conversation with a person I’ve never met who’s writing a review of my novel. Almost immediately, he told me, You broke my heart. What was I to make of this? I never intended to break anyone’s heart, least of all through my writing.
But is the book broken-hearted? Of course. It’s adult fiction, about a woman and a family. Broken hearts are the way of the human world.
As I write this, my own two daughters are drawing at the kitchen table, the teenager unfolding practically before my eyes into her own young womanhood, the ten-year-old wearing her skis at the table, longing for the excitement of snow, ready to try her mettle. When they were little toddlers, I kept anticipating I’d figure out this mothering thing, that our life would settle down into some kind of pattern, maybe even get a little boring. But my children kept changing that. Oddly enough, the kids kept growing. It wasn’t enough to crawl; they had to walk, then definitely run. At one point, my older daughter surrounded herself with board books, kicking back on our scuffed pine floor with stuffed animals. Now, she read a fat C.S. Lewis grownup book this autumn, hard and philosophical.
All good writing (and I hope my book fits somewhere on that scale) is about loss, as loss is braided into our lives. Of course, I want my daughters to love, and love well, whom and what they love. And yet… I can’t help but wish, admiring these girls surreptitiously, learn from little pieces of loss, my darlings, know them truly and well, and be blessed with long and sweet life.
When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.
— Madeline L’Engle, Walking On Water