Those We Left Behind

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The Story

Those We Left Behind examines the damage we are capable of doing to ourselves and those we love when we allow our pasts to rule us.

Casey MacMillan teaches about love and loss, yet has carefully constructed her life to distance herself from pain. Her world unravels when a woman from her past enters into a love affair with Galean, her close friend.

Fearing both the consequences of this new relationship and the sting of unrequited feelings for Galean, she flees to Ireland. There, far from all that is familiar, she begins a search for clarity and discovers that she must revisit everything she believes to finally arrive at the truth.

Renewed, she emerges from her exile, but an unexpected turn of events leads her to consider a bold move, a risk that will change the course of her life. Casey must face her deepest fears and decide if she is ready to love and be loved- not just on the page, but in real life.


Excerpt from Chapter One

Across town at that early hour, Galean was at his desk, writing. A late-night emergency at the hospital had left him exhausted, yet a tingling excitement stirred him. He filled the silent spaces with unreserved energy. So much was happening; so much to consider. Galean, methodical Galean, was teetering on the threshold of a life-changing decision.

Unable to focus on writing, he unfolded his lanky body from the chair and wandered over to the television, flipping on the early morning news. The newscaster went through the main stories of the day. The possibility of a Constitution for Canada, a Charter of Rights. Poland paralyzed by sanctions; American economic restrictions against Poland. Ireland, and more shootings.

None of the world’s troubles could hold Galean’s attention this morning. Grabbing the remote, he switched off the television, walked back to his desk and stood staring down at what he’d written earlier. The inexplicable combination of titillation and turmoil in his body and his mind pushed against the weariness. Picking up one page of the draft, he dropped into a chair by the fireplace, perched his glasses on the end of his nose and read.

First Draft Chapter 1 

Suffering the Gift of Love

by Casey MacMillan and Galean Laihy

Sometimes in what we think are our predictable lives, we are catapulted off our chosen path by an unexpected collision with fate. We have seen and experienced life unfold in dramatic, unanticipated ways—illnesses, accidents that change lives forever. We are all sufferers. Grief and vulnerability are born into our humanness.

Life can assault us in myriad ways when we are not looking, or even when we are paying close attention. Life is capable of taking from us those we love and whom we treasure.

Yet. There are encounters in our lives—fateful ones—that might feel almost magical and unbelievable. It may be when we are sure we know about life, about ourselves and what’s possible, that we are blindsided by love. A kind of love that we may not have experienced. In essence we lose our footing and fall headlong. Any idea of loss is incongruous.

Resting his head on the back of the chair, Galean let the paper fall to his lap. He closed his eyes and remembered when he and Casey had written that particular piece. They’d sat here together in his den only a few weeks ago.


Excerpt from Chapter Nine

Morning darkness in January does not succumb easily to light.

Casey drove slowly, following a snowplow, its yellow light blinking atop the cabin. Snow flew from the plow’s blades, creating a mist on her car’s windshield, the wipers laboring to cast off fine ice. The orange wool toque she’d yanked onto her head, the multi-colored scarf wrapped around her neck, her face eerie green in the reflection of the dashboard, all seemed to transform her into some mystical creature.

All her life Casey possessed a survival spirit, an energy that inspired and emboldened her through a dark childhood. Often at the worst times, she imagined herself a child of the universe, one able to transform cruelty into mercy, meanness into kindness, bewilderment into composure. She felt now that a test lay before her.

As she left the protection of the plow and turned onto University Avenue and toward her office, a calming sense of self-possession washed over her. Helena, the university, Galean, everything that was happening around her, it was all peripheral to what she needed to do. She began to write two letters in her head. One to Galean, the other to Andy Kingwood in Ireland.