I sit here enjoying a glass of wine in my Brooklyn apartment, listening to the classical music station on my cable TV network, and I think about a little girl in New Haven who has just today undergone major surgery to remove her stage four neuroblastoma. This beautiful little girl is under three, and her ability to tolerate pain and sickness has been tested far beyond anything I have ever experienced.
This has little to do with historical fiction, except that even as historical novelists we write about life. Not life as it is now, but as it was. One of the features of that life was the omnipresence of disease and death not as rarities, but as everyday occurrences. I have been blessed in my life to have few horrible tragedies. My 52-year-old brother died a year and a half ago, and it devastated me. My mother died at the relatively young age of 70 after long illness and difficulties. But my own children are relatively healthy and happy, and I have a one-year-old granddaughter who is an unalloyed joy.
It seems unfathomable that with all our knowledge and expertise a sweet young child like Morgan can still have to suffer so. And I feel so helpless to do anything at all.
Or there is my significant other's second cousin, a delightful young woman in her early thirties with virulent breast cancer. Where is the logic, where is the meaning?
The only thing I can take from this is more empathy for the sufferings of my characters, who in their times have lost children beyond number, seen close family members die, and lived with pain.
Sorry for this sad post, but it's what I'm thinking.
Causes Susanne Dunlap Supports
New York Public Radio, WFCR, Connecticut Opera, Neuroblastoma Foundation