Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: End (02/13/06)
By Karen Heslink
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In a few short years, Lorelai and I will move into the once upon a time fairytales where everyone except the villain lives happily ever after. After all, we know that only the good characters can live happily ever after. The question that comes to my mind is, “Does children’s literature mislead us?” I have to say that I think the answer is no. As I grew older, my reading expanded as hers will to chapter books like Gary Paulson’s The Christmas Sonata and picture books like Eve Bunting‘s Fly Away Home. Happy endings? No, but these are the books that I go back to even now knowing that the author will draw me into a world so different, so emotional, yet just as satisfying in spite of the less than happy ending. Writing reality might not mean happy endings, but when crafted with sincere emotion, an author can touch places deep within us.
Book endings sometimes mimic life. Life endings can generate strong emotion for those left behind: sadness, pain and loss. My cousin, Kathy, was a spirited and spiritual person. Even after lupus crippled her hands, she continued to minister to others as a registered charge nurse by handling all the paper work hospitals require today; thus allowing the other nurses on her floor to do patient care. Even after her husband Geoff died at forty-eight, she only talked about how wonderful it had been to be married to him in spite of his problems with alcoholism and a liver transplant. She died peacefully surrounded by her two brothers and one sister. She lived a prosperous and generous life. Certainly not generous in years, but definitely generous in the way she worked for the good of others.
When I think of Kathy, I am reminded of the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (NIV). She really embodied each of these in everything she did. I remember at her funeral last fall the funny stories, the lovely memories, and the moments when all I could do was let the tears run down my cheeks. She was a practical joker. She was a musician. She was a second mother to all her nieces and nephews. Like her mother before her, Kathy’s time on this earth was cut way too short. But she left a legacy for all of us. Even in death, she reminded us laugh. Even in death, she made us think. Even in death she held us to a higher standard of living life to the fullest by reaching beyond ourselves.
So the book called Kathy would be about a woman who touched my life through her example, through her love of life and through her untimely death. And it was that untimely death that has had the biggest impact on me. I know now that I need to center myself on what is important: God, family and serving others. Her ending, a sad and painful loss for me, gave my story a new beginning.
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