I read Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. How sad I became when Gus McCrae died. I walked with my head facing the ground. If I found a pebble on the road in front of my home I kicked it. I forgot when it was time to fix dinner and was late in doing it.
“Why did Gus die?” I asked myself, “Why?” The children nudged one another at the dinner table. I looked at my plate and stirred the food around. Then absentmindedly I placed the dishes in the dishwasher.
The other part of my brain said, “It’s just a book. He is just a character.”
But why did he have to die…I kept asking. All to no avail. He was so kind to Lorena. Kind to the boy. Tough with mean folks. And reasonable with others. He took care of everyone.
Then Larry McMurtry came to town. No sooner had I settled in my seat in the small auditorium than a man raised his hand…”Why did you kill off Augustus McRae?” He asked.
The author answered something like, “It was time for him to go.” And then he opened his hands like there was no alternative. He didn’t feel the pain the man with the question felt or the ache in my heart. And time passed on.
However, that is when I learned this: to make a fictitious character real, the reader must hurt when the demise of the character occurs in the story.
And to this day, I still hurt.