Wednesday, November 06, 2013

I Wear Her Necklace

Have you lost a loved one? If so, did you become attached to something that reminded you of them? Something that helped you with the loss by making you feel closer to them, perhaps?

Both the heroines in my two Christmas stories lost people they loved—Rachel Murphy's parents and Grace Wilcox's Army Ranger husband and both woman hold onto something physical of their loved ones to help them.

In Home for Christmas, Rachel's parents were killed when she was a child. Her memories of them are fading, but she feels connected to her late parents by visiting the cemetery where they are buried once a week, sometimes more. Being at their graves brings her comfort and keeps her anchored in Phoenix. She can't imagine leaving the town where they are buried. She doesn't understand how her older brother could move to Montana.

In A Little Bit of Holiday Magic, Grace drives her late husband's pick-up truck. That truck meant the world to Damon who saved up to buy it when he was dating Grace. He cared and maintained the truck like it was an exotic sports car. And now it's something physical Grace has of her husband besides their son.

After someone read a draft of A Little Bit of Holiday Magic, she questioned the importance of the truck to Grace. The reader didn't think the heroine would be so attached to a vehicle. This was one of those plot thing/writing times when my character had taken the lead about the truck, not me. I fumbled with a not-very-convincing explanation, but I knew in my heart the truck belonged in the story and with my heroine.

After turning in the manuscript, I saw the video for the song Drive Your Truck by Lee Brice, a country singer. I don't know if I heard the song sometime before or while I was writing the story or if this was just synchronicity, but I couldn't believe how well the lyrics fit my story.  I've blogged about the video before, but it's worth another watch. Tissue warning!

Some authors say writing is the best therapy. I agree though we often don't realize how our own lives work themselves out in our stories. I sure didn't in this case. I wrote these two Christmas stories over six months apart. But I've done (and am doing) the same thing as my heroines after I lost a beloved friend to breast cancer in June 2012. I'd known Elizabeth since I was a year old. She was a second-mom-favorite-aunt rolled into one. She knew me as a child, a teenager, a young adult and a woman. She shared her wisdom and experiences, her love of travel and fine things, with me. She was a home away from home and as close as an email or phone call when I needed her.

It wasn't a grave I visited or a vehicle I drove, but a necklace I wore (and still wear)—a special piece of jewelry given to me the last time I was in San Diego to visit Elizabeth, only a couple weeks before she died.

My friend loved all things Egyptian. Her two Siamese cats are named Thoth and Maat. Elizabeth wore a gold scarab pendant with hieroglyphics on the back. My memories of the necklace around her neck are so vivid and it just reminds me of her so much. I didn't take the necklace off after her death. I even slept in it.

Almost a year and a half has passed since she died, and when I'm not wearing the necklace, I keep it on my nightstand, close to me while I sleep. It's just a piece of jewelry, but it brought (and still brings) me comfort. I'd love to know if you've ever done something similar after losing someone in your life.