Driving around my hometown the past two days I've wondered why some of the flags are at half-mast. The answer came on the front page of the local paper this morning. I pulled the newsprint out of the dew-covered biodegradable plastic wrap and it sprang open with the headline that two of the men killed in the NATO helicopter crash in Afghanistan this week were from our area.
Two more families have become Gold Star Families in a blink, in the time it took for the crash to take their loved ones.
This hit me in the gut, and the heart. My June SuperRomance online read, Navy Hope, is about Gold Star Families, and what they do after they get through the initial year or so of intense grief. How do they move on?
My editor and I are working on the edits for this story at this very moment. The timing doesn't escape me, it's beyond me.
As a novelist I know that while my stories and characters are works of fiction, the emotions are anything but contrived. They're real. I've lived them, save for the Gold Star Family part (thank you God!).
My heart aches for the surviving families of every military casualty. I can't bring anyone back from the dead, none of us can make that happy ending happen.
But I can write about these families in my work by paying tribute to their heroism, the kind that's rarely in the paper or on a newscast. The everyday work and steadfast courage that it takes to be a military family, be it Blue Star (a family with a deployed member), Gold Star (a family who has lost a loved one), or the vast number of other military families.
Because I write romance, I can give them a happy ending, the kind they all deserve, but unfortunately don't always get in real life. With that, perhaps I can give everyone a bit of hope.