“The loss of such a worthwhile person in a world that cries out for compassionate people remains a question that I hope and pray I’ll have answered some day. Until then, memories will have to suffice . . .”

This quote is taken from my book, The Week from Heaven and Hell, a tribute to our son who died suddenly at age 29. As I was preparing for a program with two other authors this coming Monday at the Pima/Green Valley Library on the writing of “truths” in memoir, I was reminded how true this statement is about Stacey Burns as well as Captain Gary Southard. Granted, the two situations are vastly different in many ways, but they also are similar in some universal aspects. Do memories suffice? Why are such young, talented, and vibrant people taken from this world? In Gary’s case, anger at his loss can only be directed at God, or, for non-believers, fate. In Stacey’s case, another human being is to blame. No matter what happens, they are not coming back.

However, they do now know the answer to that mystifying question–WHY?

In November, I’ll be speaking at the Society of Southwestern Authors monthly forum on the subject of “listening to your inner (and outer) critics.” A portion of that program will address the issue of obtaining credibility with people in your profession. The book, The Week from Heaven and Hell, went a long way toward doing just that. The reason is really quite simple. I’ve been told that it tells the truth: the truth about my anger, both rational and irrational; the truth about the importance of family and friends and community and church; the truth about the resilience of human beings.

I had hoped that the credibility I’ve established in my writing and my personal life would be enough that a narrative about the Stacey Burns case would help bring out the truth. Thus far, over five years after starting work on it, I’m not sure we are anywhere closer to resolving why this compassionate human being was killed, and by whom.

The loss of our son was beyond devastating as was the loss of Stacey Burns. As the final chapter of my books says, it doesn’t get any easier; it just hurts a little less.