There are no endings: A father, a daughter, and the Wheel of Time
Author: Kitan Tataru
I met Raelle during a short transfer to another department at work. I'd put a background picture of one of the redone Wheel of Time covers on my work computer during one of my first days there. She walked by my desk, stopped, and said "You like the Wheel of Time too?!" I'm sure you can imagine my reaction!
I gave a lecture about the Wheel of Time at a science fiction, fantasy, and horror convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA in 2015. As part of my research I gathered stories of how the series has affected people's lives. I asked members of the site to answer the question, of course, but then I remembered Raelle. I'd transferred out of her department by then, but I asked her if she'd write something about how the series affected her and send it to me.
Raelle's story is so powerful...it blew me away.
Since Raelle lives locally, I asked her to come to my lecture and share her story herself. I knew she could tell it far better than I could.
A year later, Raelle's story is still on my mind. I revisited the video of my lecture and transcribed it to share here in the Tar Valon Times.
Unfortunately, Raelle isn't a member of the site - she works full time in a demanding leadership position in a difficult department and is also working on her degree (I don't know how she does it!), so she just doesn't have the time. But once in a while I still encourage her to join.
I had Raelle create a suitable Tower name for this article, and she's given us permission to publish her story. If you want to say anything to her after reading this, share it in the comments and I'll make sure she visits this page to see.
Trigger warning: This story mentions a suicide.
I grew up with reading as a major foundation of my life. My father was always reading. He was the type of man you could count on to hold your spot in line because he was always prepared with a book. Camping overnight for a good spot at the Fourth of July parade, waiting for a table at a restaurant, or waiting in line at opening night for a movie (back before reserved seating) - he was the man with a book in his hand waiting in line for us.
Growing up, like many parents, he read to me at bedtime. I would lie on his belly and slowly fall asleep while he read me tales of adventure with quirky characters in lands that will always exist in my heart and mind. He did different voices for all of the characters. Thinking back, I know he enjoyed it as much, if not more, than I did. He would be aware that I’d fallen asleep but would continue reading.
My mother wanted me to read with her as well, but she wanted to read mystery novels. Nancy Drew seemed a little bit bland compared to the universes that I experienced in fantasy.
When I was 7, my father developed migraines. A year after that his body slowly started to break down. He was nauseous 24/7, keeping him away from the family he loved and work he devoted himself to. He spent more and more time in bed for two years until his job reached a breaking point.
He attempted many solutions: lifestyle changes, medication, psychiatrists, even an inpatient study at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, with no solutions.
Throughout all of this he had his books. His favorite series was the Wheel of Time. I specifically remember being a child and seeing the Wheel of Time within his nightstand collection of books, and I wondered when I would be smart enough to read a big book like that. He owned every book and he bought the hardback copy of the books he had read cover to cover until they fell apart.
The last book of the series my father read was Crossroads of Twilight. It was released in January 2003. My father committed suicide in July 2003. I was 10 years old.
It wasn’t until high school that I actually picked up one of my father’s books from his beloved collection. Over the next two years I took them everywhere with me and read in every spare moment I had. I spent my lunches at school reading them in the hallways. I got in trouble at school for preferring the intense saga over whatever the teacher decided to drone on about that day.
As I ended the tenth book, I found a quote in the epilogue by Lews Therin: “Sometimes, pain is all that lets you know you’re alive.”
I continued reading the series as the seals broke on the Dark One’s prison, and I related to the sense of seemingly complete devastation and loss of hope. I thought back to where my father stopped in the series, thought back to the turmoil and conflict that was outlined so well that even those who have not experienced a situation like that could feel what it would be like.
I continued to read the series and I felt I was being given a sense of closure by themes covered in the books as they unfolded.
In The Gathering Storm, Rand (spoiler alert!) confronts Lews Therin. The confrontation reflected the Light within him overpowering the Dark. To me, this symbolically summed up the conflict that I continue to believe is paramount to the human experience.
Rand’s willingness to fight the Dark comes following the realization of the point of it all: Love.
It’s cliché because it’s real.
My father was not with us long enough to have his own life-altering epiphany. But my experiences and connection to this moment in the book highlighted a turning point in my perspective on life.
I am so grateful to have been given the influence of this amazing story throughout my life: a place to escape in hard times, a place where my imagination reigns, a place with complex themes that seem to simplify life and highlight what’s important.
I hope somehow my father was able to experience the full conclusion with me as well as feel the love I will always have for him.
Tar Valon Times Newsletter Version