by Karen Schreck
"This is just something I have to do, okay?" I hear David say. "The right thing."“Love Can Conquer Any Distance . . . Right?”
He cradles my face in his hands. He kisses me hard. Then he lets go of me. His eyes dart from me to whatever's next.
All she wants is for him to stay. She's been doing pretty well, pretending he doesn't have to go. But one day, after one last night to remember, she wakes up and there's no denying it anymore. He's gone.
When Penna Weaver's boyfriend goes off to Iraq, she's left facing life without him. As summer sets in, Penna tries to distract herself with work and her art, but the not knowing is slowly driving her crazy. Especially when David stops writing.
She knows in her heart he will come home. But will he be the same boy she fell in love with?
If you look closely at the cover of While He Was Away, you’ll see that the title of this post also serves as the caption for my novel.
A caption that reminds me of another famous quote:
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
And this one, which I always thought came from that wild novel from the 1970s, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, but which, it turns out, is actually an ancient Chinese proverb:
If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.
The only things that separate my book caption from the above quotes is that little . . . and the “Right?”
And that little . . . and the “Right?” make all the difference in the world. At least to me.
That little . . . and the “Right?” keep me from grinding my teeth down to the nubbins.
Because the qualification, the doubt that is laced through the caption of While He Was Away brings up the conflict, the fear, the potential for loss, that most often goes hand-in-hand with . . . not being hand-in-hand with the one you love. Someone, for whatever reason, has to be at a distance, and it sucks, big-time. Maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend didn’t go off to war, as Penna Weaver’s boyfriend, David O’Dell, does in While He Was Away. Maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend just went on a long summer vacation, or to college. But separation of any kind can be a huge challenge. (Don’t you know it?) And it’s not just the quality or beauty or depth of your love that determines how it all plays out. Distance, and the places where we find ourselves when we’re apart, play a huge factor on how things work out. Or don’t.
In While He Was Away, Penna Weaver throws herself into her work and her friendships, into solving a family mystery, into being a citizen of the world in order to deal with her separation from David.
If you’ve ever been in a long distance relationship, how have you dealt with it?
Got something specific in mind? Let me know down in the comments section. Don't be shy! And don't forget to check out While He Was Away, peeps!