It’s that time. I’m returning to the scene of the crime, the place where it all began. The latest installment of Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series will be released on January 20, and I’ve started to reread the whole series in anticipation. These books, particularly Shadowfever, the last in the Mac and Barrons story thus far, fundamentally changed the way I read paranormal fantasy and how I think of these books and how they affect my life. And while I didn’t know it at the time, these extraordinary books held the seeds of my blog and, hopefully, my soon-to-be-written book between their magical pages. It was with the Fever series that I began to see the truth and wisdom that is offered by paranormal and urban fantasy. And just like that, I realized that these works were inspiring deep and meaningful thoughts about life, love and how to do it all with as much truth and integrity as possible.

And so, because these books mark a demarcation line between Before the Fever series and After, today’s post is a reflection on how quickly life can change from one moment to the next, much in the same way that MacKayla’s life changes when she learns of her sister’s death in the beginning of the first book in the series, Darkfever. Mac thinks of the phone call that upended her world and her life as a “line of demarcation” and so it was. She also observes that “it began as most things begin, not on a dark and stormy night… It began small and innocuously, as most catastrophes do.”  All of this hit me hard with the truth of what she said. An extraordinary day can begin as a day like any other.

Life can turn on a dime, and it often does. I think back to almost every specific day when I received unexpected news (usually bad, but this would apply to good news as well) or when I realized something important had occurred and my life might be unalterably changed as a result. Days, or really moments, like this are always preserved in my memory with incredible clarity and detail. And in those moments I always have the thought that, wow, there was absolutely nothing in this day that could possibly be interpreted as a portent of the bad thing (or good thing) to come. It seemed like such an ordinary day, during an ordinary week, embedded in an ordinary month. Have you ever experienced this?  This phenomenon has always intrigued me.

I was also intrigued by the time warp aspect of MacKayla’s experience. A detail of the story involves her dropping her cellphone into the pool several days before she learns of her sister’s death from the authorities in Dublin. When she finally gets a new one and listens to her messages, there’s one from her sister, Alina, who is highly distraught. Alina dies very soon afterward and MacKayla realizes that while Alina was being killed and then lay dead for two days in an alley, Mac was sunning herself and swimming in her pool and chillaxing her days away. I don’t know why it is always such a shock to find out that something awful happened and in the time between the event and our learning of it, life goes on as it was.

I experienced a similar situation upon the deaths of both my parents. They died, or, more accurately, suffered soon-to-be-fatal heart attacks, while I was unreachable for a time. So, while they were dying, I was getting on with my life as if nothing were amiss. Because, of course, ignorance is bliss. What we don’t know won’t hurt us. It is only later that we realize that the universe had shifted and we hadn’t known. I’ve always thought that when something bad happens to someone I love and am connected to, I would know it.  There are some people who claim that they do, but I’m not one of these.  I’ve experienced no premonitions of doom—or joy, in fact. I had no idea, for example, on the day I met my husband on a blind date that was supposed to be with someone else that such a lovely event would occur.  Nor did I have any clue, many years later that he’d been in an accident on his bike on a day where I actually wasn’t worried about that happening (ironic, I know). Lines of demarcation, before and after.

Occasionally, life-changing events occur and we aren’t aware.  Like when I went to see one of the deans at my college to try to sort out some academic issues and he ended up helping me avoid failing out of school, a fact I didn’t discern until the crisis had already passed.  Or when we look back at our lives and see, in hindsight, that an event or situation was a line of demarcation, as Mac calls it.  I think that there may be more of these than we think, but that it’s often easier to identify them in hindsight than when we are living through it, because life-changing events can overwhelm us very quickly.  Of course, an unexpected (or even an expected) death is usually a very clear line of demarcation. But, as I know Mac will discover as she progresses through the story of the Fever series, there are others, and sometimes they come very fast, while at other times, these lines make themselves known more slowly.  And how we handle the accrual of these lines within our own world determines how we’ll live our lives.

These lines of demarcation can become prison bars, and keep us stuck in one place.  Or they can become the markings on the road we continue to travel, providing guidance and direction. It’s up to us how we respond to life-changing events.  We can cling to the past and wish it weren’t so.  Or we can embrace the new reality and adjust ourselves to it. As Barrons would remind us, it’s our choice.

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