Star Walker is not my first book. And it will not be my last. However, this book and this story and these characters will forever hold me captive. For once upon a time, they saved me. Saved me from myself, from our family’s worst fears, from a storm so fierce we are still climbing from the rubble.
You see, on June 6th, 2008, my husband nearly died. In many ways, he did. The near fatal car accident left him in a coma, his brother’s neck broken, and me…waiting.
Waiting for him to wake up. Waiting for our life to go on. Waiting for the nightmare to end.
But when he finally did wake up, dazed from a brain injury that would go on to rob him of himself, it became clear: the nightmare was just beginning.
In those early days, I searched for an escape. While physically present, caring for my husband, answering doctor’s questions, trying to stay positive for our young sons; inside, I was crumbling.
My husband was different. Changed forever. Everything from the look in his eyes to his sense of humor; I recognized nothing of the man I married.
It was his distant stare that ignited the spark that would later become Star Walker.
It was the absence of him that gave birth to the story I would come to tell myself for the next nine years.
While I sat alone at night wondering what would happen to our family I was pulled into a fictional world of characters begging to be written. As I drove my husband to countless therapists and doctors I would imagine a plot line with twists and emerging motivations. As I tried to stay strong for everyone, care for everyone, I would sneak myself away to write a story that gave me hope.
It was this love affair that brought light into my dark world and urged me to keep going.
For nine years I went into that world, building a universe that I could control. A world that belonged only to me. I took the pain and the loss and every moment in between and I applied it to my characters, until they themselves became real.
Real enough for me to consider sharing it with others. Real enough to see it through to the end.
Real enough to become a book.
Coming full circle.
In the summer of 2017, I finished and published Star Walker. And yet, I told no one. Except my husband. I told him with the security that he would never actually read it. Not because he wasn’t supportive of my dream, but because he hadn’t read a book since 2008.
Once an avid reader, the brain injury had stolen his ability to follow a story. While he could read sentences or short articles, a full length book continued to elude him. The strain on his memory, his eyes, his cognition sent him into a reading induced slumber after only one page. It became not worth the price. So he gave it up.
Until Star Walker.
As I told him that the book I had worked so hard on was finally available to read, I saw a determination spark in his eyes: he was going to read my book.
And so, the story that came to me as he lay in a hospital bed, the story that rescued a scared girl from a dark and unknown future, the story that gave me hope when I felt all was lost became the very first book my husband was able to read.
The magic of Star Walker stretched beyond saving me, and in a small way, saved him too.