There are moments that forever change the landscape of your life. I know Debbie's family is reeling from one and mine is too.
Writer's react the same way as anyone else in the moment of trouble. They worry, they cry and they don't sleep much. What is different is that later -- sometimes much later -- they will write about their grief. They won't use the exact set of circumstances but will give the event a universality that readers can relate to.
I lost a much loved brother three weeks ago. His heart stopped. Mine felt as if a bomb had exploded in it. For a few days I didn't think I'd ever write again. A friend said to me, "He is still with you." I felt too bereft to accept that. But I did continue writing. For me, it is like breathing and I can't stop. So I decided to finish my novel and dedicate it to my brother -- something positive to do during my grief. But it all seemed so trivial.
And then yesterday a funny thing happened. I was writing in my hero's voice and I heard my brother Jack speaking. My hero's name is Yuma and his assistant was explaining to him that he couldn't fire someone just for being an idiot. Warnings must be issued. Yuma answered, "If I put my large hands around his ivy-league neck, I'm sure we'll get a proper resignation." It was my brother's voice. He didn't suffer fools gladly especially over-educated useless ones. I suspect this character was always a bit like him and I only realized it now. So though I'm still hurting, I'm beginning to accept what my friend said, 'He is still with me.'