Readers practice letting go constantly. As the books we're loving reach their end, we farewell beloved characters. They're not forgotten, they don't vanish. The big emotions of the book stay with us as gentle echoes on our soul.
As 2018 comes to an end, I'm glad to see it go, and I'm going to consign a few things to history along with it. The end of the year is a time to shake things out of our lives, to free ourselves, and to prepare to embrace the good and the bad that's coming at us.
"...and they lived happily ever after" is how good fairy tales end. People mock romance novels for ending the same way (or with a happy-for-now). But they miss the point. The happy ending of a novel isn't just an ending. It's the hero/heroine having the strength to start something new. That's what the happy ever after celebrates: the courage of throwing out our old ways of living to embrace new opportunities.
As a romance author, the challenge is to create a protagonist and write them a journey that credibly results in them daring to seize the day. (I watched Dead Poets Society as a teenager - the carpe diem message still resonates with me). Through the book the protagonist has to face problems that grow in difficulty, that ask more of them, and which they conquer. Not always. A perfect character doesn't appeal as much as a flawed one. We know that our failures prepare us for new challenges in ways success can't.
I'm guessing that 2018 held some bad times for you. But the good news is ... you're here. You survived. We survived. The book of the past year is closing, and we're going to write a new one. Who we have been, the people we have lost, the troubles that have crushed us will continue to echo in our souls, but we will move forward.
As complicated, frustrating and unpredictable as life can be, the truth is it's up to us to make 2019 the year we need it to be.