Death, the afterlife, and Just One Wish

Over the years since I wrote Just One Wish, I’ve received many emails about the ending. Some of them ask me what happens to Jeremy, Annika, and Steve. While I was answering this question in an email, I thought I’d put the answer out here on the blogosphere for anyone else who wonders  why I wrote a less than happy ending. (Actually, when you think about it–at least when you think about it like I do– it’s a very happy ending.)

Here’s the thing about Just One Wish. I wrote the book because I was tired of all the books where a character dies (there are soo many) and no one in the book ever talks or thinks about God or the afterlife. It seems to me that anyone who is faced with death thinks about God and the afterlife. Instead, the character usually says something along the lines of, “S/he lives on inside of us.”

That philosophy has never been comforting to me because my mother died when I was six years old. I only have memories of her being sick from cancer. I don’t want to believe that she lives on inside of me, I believe that when I die I’ll see her again, along with my grandparents. And it will be a happy reunion.

You asked if Jeremy survived.The reason I probably will not write a sequel is that there is no way I could kill him off in a book. (I modeled him physically on one of my sons so I would be sure to write about him with emotion.) If I wrote a sequel, he would be miraculously cured.

However, when I wrote the book and considered curing him, I thought: Yeah, but even if he does live now, he’s going to die one day. The problem of death is still there. I would just put it off for a few decades. We all have to face death one way or another. So the only truly happy ending is one where a character has faith that there is a God and an afterlife where we can be together with our friends and family.

So does Jeremy survive? Let’s say yes–he’ll live for awhile. For how long, I’m not sure. Days or decades. But his death, and mine, and yours will be okay if we’ve lived lives we can be proud of.

Do Annika and Steve stay together? Of course! In my mind all of my characters (even though most of them are in high school) live happily ever after with their guy. (Hey, it happens. I know people who married their high school sweetheart and are still together.) I’m a romantic like that.