These past few years, since being published really, I’ve tried to figure out who I am as an author. Who I want to be, where I want to go, and the kind of books I want to write. When I first began writing, a little over a hundred years ago, it was purely for my own entertainment. I loved creating characters and watching what they did with their lives. I never imagined that one day I might actually do this for real. Like a serious job kind of thing. Well, it’s serious now. Getting realer by the second. And slowly, with each new story I write, I’m finding my way.
While I have shared before on writing real, not shying away from the hard topics, I’m not sure I really understood that this was not just my own preference, but a calling. A high calling indeed. One I’m only now starting to see take shape and evolve with each word I write.
If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you may have your own opinion on last week’s episode. I’ve heard everything from shock, horror and disappointment in the plot twist to applause for addressing a taboo subject. I won’t go into details for those who haven’t yet seen it and others who don’t care. But this week, as a new story of my own emerged, I think I fall on the side of those who are clapping.
I’m going into dark places. Not because I want to. But because I believe I am called to. I am called to write for those who can’t. Perhaps in some way my words might reach the ones who need to hear them. This is stepping out on faith, because I don’t know what comes next. But I do know that if I want to share light, I must step into darkness. There are others there. Hiding. Afraid. Others who may have tried to tell their stories but their voices have been ignored, snubbed, their lives judged. I may not have experienced the things they have, but I can go there with them. I can imagine what it might be like to lose a child. To lose a spouse to another. To see your worst fears realized. To be judged by those who are supposed to love. I can imagine, and I can pray with all my might I never have to live it. But I believe these stories need to be told. There is hope for the hurting. A balm for the wounded soul who no longer wants to live because it is just too damn hard.
Hope. Light in darkness. This is what I want to share. This is the business I want to be about. And maybe it won’t be easy. Maybe I’ll wonder if I’ve misread the directions somehow and, maybe, I’ll want to give up. I hope I don’t. Because I know if I’m ever in those dark places, I’d want to see a little light in the shadows.
I’d like to share a snippet of something new with you today, to show you where I’m going. And I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
Excerpt from my latest WIP, Winter’s Edge.
“Can we not do this?”
I don’t have an answer for that. The exhaustion he wears like a second skin tells me he’s had enough. Enough of me. Entering this house is like entering a warzone and he’s tired of dodging bullets. I’m tired of firing them, but I can’t come up with another line of defense. And I still have plenty of ammunition left.
“I guess it’s getting old, huh?” I twist the rings on my left hand and wonder why I still wear them. Maybe I should slide them off now, throw them at him…wave the white flag in final surrender. Somehow I think that’s exactly what he wants. So I refuse.
He’s composed himself again, but he wraps a hand around my wrist. “Please call me or email me when you get there. Okay?”
Tears trickle out despite my best efforts to force them back. I don’t want to call him. I don’t want to email him. I don’t want to think he still cares. I don’t want him to care. Knowing that he might makes it even more difficult to let him go.
For a moment we’re standing graveside again under a darkening sky as huge drops start to splatter the ground and hit the gleaming flower-covered casket.
Tonight I am grieving another kind of death.
The death of a marriage.
A marriage that was supposed to survive.
“I don’t know how to do this.” The admission chokes me, pushes out a sob and I fold my arms against it, ball my fists at my ribcage and hate myself for not being strong enough. And then he puts that damn box on the floor, moves into my space, wraps his arms around me and he’s holding me. Tight. And he’s crying too.
Oh, God, is there forgiveness here? Can I stand back now and look him in the eye and tell him I forgive him? Would he even want me to if I could?
Kevin releases me in a shuddering sigh. Rests a hand against my wet cheek and simply shakes his head. His forehead furrows. While I am no longer privy to my husband’s intimate thoughts, I wonder if he too cannot believe it has all come down to this one final, catastrophic moment.
“I’m sorry, Savannah,” he breathes out.
He’s said this before, too many times. He has apologized, but he has never once asked for my forgiveness. He once told me he doesn’t deserve it.
I don’t believe that, not really. But I am not God. I don’t know how to forgive this sin, this appalling act of complete abandonment.
And I don’t want to forgive him, even though I know I should.
© 2014 Catherine West, Winter’s Edge
Photo © 2014 Sarah Elgersma, Sarah E Photography