I remember those high school years - attending a private school - meeting in the gym for chapel - the girls all wearing navy jumper uniforms with white blouses - and the boys wearing anything they wanted - mostly ragged jeans and t-shirts.
I actually loved visiting speakers back then - especially the ones with stories.
So I launched into my Candace stories. I found myself recounting much of that first book I wrote, Have you seen Candace? which ended with a mystery. This time I could finish the story.
And I told it all -- well not all of it. I didn't go into some of the details of her death. I spared them that. In fact I didn't talk much about the trials at all. I rather highlighted Candace's personality, her devotion to her friends and her devotion to her God which remain so vivid after all these years.
Time is fluid. It was as if Candace was in the room - sitting amongst them - glowing. It was as if I was beside her - a much younger self - glowing.
It seemed as if we were all glowing. The students glowed with youth and vitality.
They were such an exceptionally well-behaved, bright-eyed and responsive group. It was as if we were sitting around a campfire telling stories - the more dramatic the better. I became aware again how dramatic my story is - how full of ghosts and such.
However in the drama, I tried to be responsible and embed the age-old truths that whatever happens - and it will happen - can be turned into something good. I stressed the balance of love, justice and forgiveness.
I also recounted some of the trauma. I told them how we had to relearn to laugh, how I had to let go of my self pity - and fight against remaining a victim. I told them that even though Candace was murdered that she still lives. There is something known as Candace pixie dust.
But I forgot one important thing. I forgot to tell them to write.
I am horrified.
Standing in front of them telling all of my stories, I forgot the most important truth of all. I forgot about writing.
I could not have stood up there in front of them, 33 years later, vividly retelling all those stories of Candace if I hadn't so carefully and descriptively written them all down that first year when I was so raw. I remember crying as I wrote them - sobbing as if my heart would break - which it did - but I wrote it all down anyhow. And I'm so grateful I did.
But I forgot to tell them--
“Write while the heat is in you. … .” —Henry David Thoreau