Years ago, I had the most marvelous friends living in my head. Characters who lived out their lives and stories, and let me watch and be part of them. I wrote a few novels, mapped out a great many more, and all in all enjoyed my dear friends immensely.
My husband was very understanding of my secret life of the mind. Our children were indifferent, since most of it went on when they weren’t around or were otherwise engaged in homework or sleeping.
And then I did a terrible thing. My parents moved near us so I could help take care of my mother, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. It was a stressful time. My mother was within a few weeks of being 80 years older than our daughter. I loved my parents deeply, and it’s a safe bet to say, being the child of their later years, that I was closer to them than my brothers, who had left home and started families decades earlier.
But, still, there were times I needed two of me. My mother’s physical health deteriorated, she was stricken with Parkinson’s dementia (similar to Alzheimer’s, but with a few hard to manage quirks thrown in: invisible friends; hallucinations [“take this turtleneck sweater off of me!” “Mom, you’re not wearing a turtleneck sweater. Here, feel your neck. Is there a turtleneck sweater?” “No, there’s no turtleneck sweater. But TAKE THIS TURTLENECK SWEATER OFF OF ME!”]; and horrible changes in her personality. When she was getting aspiration pneumonia every few days from not being able to swallow her food properly, my father and I made the decision to move them to an assisted living facility. But I was still on-call, for all sorts of appointments, when one or the other of them was transported to the hospital, and other crises.
The upshot was that I made a decision, without thinking it all the way through. I was stressed, as I said, and mourning the loss of person there physically but no longer the mother I’d known and loved, and feeling desperate.
I committed a form of murder. Not my parents, not my husband, not our children! But I killed my characters. I forced them out into the void, friendless, voiceless, alone in the dark. I leaned against the door of my mind and shut my heart against their wailing. Slowly their voices died away, and all was silent.
My interior dialog was all-but nonexistent. I did my best to be everything that wife, mother and daughter should be.
Mom passed away in 2003. Dad joined her on Christmas Eve, 2010.
And then I realized the aching void in my head. The characters I had murdered. I MISSED them!
I’d written three murder mysteries, back in the days before my parents moved near us. All had the same husband and wife sleuth team, and the same general background, but the setting of each changed. They were good. I had several editors at publishing houses express interest, and I was optimistic. They lived and breathed and had their being in my head, and it was wonderful.
It’s been ten years. I’m older, a lot more precarious in my own health, and the children are in college. I’m trying to lure my characters back to me. The mysteries are long since lost, several laptops wiped and sold, and the portable memory tossed in the trash.
But, knowing they once existed, and knowing how intimately I was acquainted with my friends, I’m hoping to lure them back. I’m hoping they were hiding, all these years, and not dead.