My daughter from Florida flew home for a whirlwind three-day visit. My other daughter and my grandson who both live in Indy drove up to stay with us, too. Not for a happy occasion. One of the nighborhood boys they’d grown up with died unexpectedly. The kids from around here are still close. They still see each other whenever they can work it in, so my grandson knows them all, too. Now that he’s grown, he goes deer hunting with them once a year. So it was a shock when we heard about losing one of them. (I’ll call him NK for Neighborhood Kid).
We all went to the funeral on Thursday, and there were flowers and pictures everywhere. People visited and caught up with each other during the showing. One of the perks of a funeral. Everyone came together in one place and really enjoyed seeing each other. And then the service started. The minister didn’t know NK, and that saved me. He couldn’t give warm memories or anecdotes, so he gave a good, old-fashioned Bible thumping homily. Probably safer for me, since if I heard stories about NK, I’d have a soggy Kleenex. But when the service ended, NK’s mother stood and faced the audience. “I want to hear happy memories about my boy.”
That’s when the celebration of a life we all loved began. Funny stories from camping trips, their cabin in the UP, and deer hunting camp They made people laugh and nod, saying, “Yup, that sounds like NK.” And yes, we’re all going to miss him. There’ll be grief and tears, but there will also be laughter and wonderful memories.
It made me think about how writers create characters. Every life has moments that stand out. It has ups and downs. If I had to stand up at a funeral for one of my characters, what would I say about him or her? Do I show that on the pages he walks on?
Many happy moments to all of you, and happy writing!