I know I'm not the only one who was sobbing during Downton Abbey this week. And I know I'm not the only one who has tried to comfort herself by saying "It's just fiction. It's just a story. It's not true." And I'm not the only one who has found very little comfort in that fact.
As I think about it today, I realize that good fiction has the power to touch us deeply when the stories are real. They don't have to be true. The characters don't have to be living human beings. The settings don't have to be actual places on the map. It's the stories that touch us, because they echo our stories. They delve into themes that we find in our own lives. They pierce our hearts in places where our hearts already bear scars.
Lee and Blake on our front porch, April 2007 (4th grade)
Last night's episode of Downton Abbey was almost too poignant for me to bear, for one year ago today I watched a similar story play out in real life. One year ago today the son of one of my dearest friends and one of my youngest son's dearest friends, our next-door neighbor, was killed in a tragic accident. Like Sybil, Blake was the youngest of three children. Like Sybil, Blake was full of goodness and greatness. Like Sybil, Blake brought out the best in other people. Like Sybil, Blake was young and innocent and so dearly loved.
The story of Sybil's death bowled me over as it echoed Blake's story.
I'll tell you: the only thing that makes all this bearable is the knowledge that Blake's story is not over. It's just begun. Blake is not living here on earth with us any longer, but Blake lives. Blake will live forever. We will be with him again.
And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3).
If you'd like to know Blake's story, you can watch this video. You'll be glad you did.
Did Sybil's story echo a story in your life? Please share it! We are stronger for sharing our stories with one another.