Guest post by R.V. Doon at Brook Cottage Books
When I decided to write The War Nurse, I wanted to explode the romantic theme to explore the concept of commitment, during an arduous separation. The main characters, Katarina and Jack, have experienced the fever-pitched love of early commitment, survived the traumatic phase of breaking up, and the couple is reunited before the war begins. No one can dispute the obvious love between them. They’ve reached the stage of the fully committed and get their HEA, only to have it swept away. They don’t break up; they don’t call it quits. War interrupts and tells them their love story is over.
If one lover is thrown in harm’s way and the other remains in relative safety, love still simmers. The one in jeopardy lives on the food of their old memories; the one back home daydreams of their future and visits their special places to feel close to their missing lover. But what happens when both lovers are tossed into the same danger zone and their dependable world changes into a dark, unnerving place? How does love survive the ordeal of survival?
Survival we’re told, or true survival where an error means life or death, isn’t pretty to behold. In war zones, people have to fight to keep their humanity and their hope alive. Circumstances force people to take actions they’d never consider during peace time.
Katarina does the ordinary things to keep Jack close to her heart. She keeps his picture under her pillow and hums their favorite songs. She searches for him when he’s a POW, smuggling food and medicines into the prison even though it’s a death penalty offense. At one point she refuses to take the ‘escape the war flight’ offered early in the story, because she’s waiting for Jack to find her. These are normal actions for a woman in the fully committed romantic relationship.
Mindful of the worsening situation, Katarina drinks in every detail of Jack. She traces the outline of his face into her memory, like a map pointing the way home. She memorizes the color of his lips and the length of his fingers. She concentrates on the strum of his heartbeat until her own merges into a symphony with his; then she writes their heart music on mildewed walls. In doing so, she’s transcending ordinary love into the extraordinary. She can find her man wherever war sends him. Her extraordinary love for Jack saves her from committing the unforgivable.
Extraordinary love takes place between lovers who can’t imagine being in love with anyone else. The word tenderly was created just for them. Third parties don’t often witness extraordinary love because it’s taking place on a higher sense level, but occasionally there are glimpses.
It’s when surprised lovers spot each other in a crowd, as if they’re given off invisible sparks only they can see. It’s when a person is seriously ill, and their life signs respond only to the sound of their lover’s voice or touch. It’s when hearing music or smelling perfume transports one back in time to a blissful, heart-fluttering moment, and he tunes out everything else to drink in the memory. It’s when one partner dies and the other soon follows, because the last one has forgotten how to breathe after a lifetime of shared breaths.
Katarina and Jack never allow the brutality of war to enter their inner sanctum. Both have visible and invisible wounds, but as soon as they touch…they drown in their love.
As a writer, I hated putting my characters through an inferno of pain, but on the other hand I gave them extraordinary love, a rare gift in this world. What about you? Have you experienced extraordinary love? Share your love story with us because love has the power to change lives.