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Intersection Column | It Should Have Been Different

by Amanda Cabot

Annie stood by her mother’s grave, sobbing as if her heart were breaking. Though I’d known her since we’d been in elementary school, this was the first time I’d seen her with tears streaming down her cheeks, her face contorted in agony. I put my arms around her and murmured the words of comfort I thought she needed, the assurance that death was only a temporary parting and that she and her mother would one day be reunited.

To my shock, Annie shook her head, her eyes filled with anger as well as grief. “You don’t understand. I’m not crying because she’s gone. I’m crying because she was never there.”

The words made no sense to me. I’d spent countless hours in Annie’s home, and her mother had always been there. Unlike my mother, who had a part-time job, Annie’s mother was a stay-at-home mom. I dismissed my friend’s outburst as a normal part of the grieving process. Wasn’t anger one of the first stages?

It was a few weeks later when Annie and I met for lunch that she told me the whole story and I began to understand what she’d meant. While on the surface Annie had had an ideal homelife, reality had been far different. There’d been no abuse, but there’d also been no close, loving relationship with her mother—no hugs and kisses, no invitations to share her deepest feelings, no sense that she was precious to her mother. Instead, she’d felt like an unwelcome guest, someone whose presence was tolerated from duty, not love.

“It should have been different,” Annie had said in conclusion. “My mother may have loved me, but it wasn’t the kind of love I needed. Not once did she tell me she loved me. Not once did I feel that love. That’s why I wept at her grave. I was crying for what should have been.”

It was a tragic story, made all the worse because I hadn’t sensed how far Annie’s childhood had been from the ideal we all crave. It’s been more than five years since Annie told me her story, but I haven’t forgotten it, nor have I stopped wondering how many other people have similar stories.

Annie was right. It should have been different. Like her, I wanted it to be different. I couldn’t change her life, but maybe I could help others by exploring the problem, by letting them know that it was all right to be hurt by a parent’s seeming lack of love, that it was all right to grieve for what should have been. And so, when I began plotting The Spark of Love, I knew one of the topics I’d explore was my heroine’s relationship with her father, for just as Annie’s mother’s failure to demonstrate her love had shaped her life, Alexandra’s father’s actions had a profound effect on her and made her the woman she was.

Alexandra’s only six years old when her mother dies and her life changes dramatically. Instead of raising her himself, her father sends her to New York to live with her elderly great-aunt. Though it’s a life of luxury, it’s not enough. Alexandra longs for more than the outward trappings of wealth and the two weeks her father spends with her each December. She seeks the assurance that she’s loved for herself and not for the fortune she’ll soon inherit.

When a spurned suitor threatens her, Alexandra flees New York, realizing this may be the change she needs. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll find love and acceptance when she reaches Mesquite Springs, the small town in the Texas Hill Country where her father is building a hotel. Maybe it’ll be different there. It should be different, shouldn’t it?


About the Author

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of Out of the Embers and Dreams Rekindled, as well as the Cimarron Creek Trilogy and the Texas Crossroads, Texas Dreams and Westward Winds series. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming. Learn more at


About the Book

When a spurned suitor threatens her, heiress Alexandra Tarkington flees New York for Mesquite Springs, where her father is building a hotel. But all is not as it seems. Two men, each with his own agenda, have followed her. Gabe Seymour is an investigator, searching for proof that her father is a swindler. When a series of apparent accidents threaten her life, Alexandra and Gabe will have to work together to discover the truth.


Did You Know?

Of the Gospel writers—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—Luke is probably the only Gentile. And he often highlights Jesus’ ministry to “outsiders,” helping readers see how God views the overlooked. Here’s a sampling:

  • Widows. A widow loses her only son. But Jesus raises him (Luke 7:11–17). Later, Jesus commends the actions of a widow who puts all she has in the offering (21:1–4). And Jesus illustrates how people should pray by describing how an evil judge finally gives in to a persistent widow (18:1–8).

  • A ritually unclean woman (Luke 8:43–48). Luke records the only incident in which Jesus ever calls someone “daughter.” This woman has a bleeding disorder, which has left her socially cut off. Luke sandwiches her story between descriptions of Jairus, who has a dying daughter. The twelve-year-old dies as Jairus stands waiting for Jesus, delayed by the “unclean” woman, who has been bleeding the same number of years the daughter had been alive. Then, Jesus heals both “daughters,” raising the dead child and restoring the suffering adult.

  • The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:35–37). In one of Jesus’ best-known parables, He makes the outsider the hero. Luke tells how religious elites who should have cared have failed to do so. But the outcast sacrifices safety, convenience and financial loss to show what it means to love one’s neighbor.

Do you ever relegate people to outsider status? God cares for them. Ever feel like you’re the unseen one? God cares for you too.


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