“What do you mean, it’s Purple Day?” I said into the phone. “How can it be Purple Day already? None of my Sims have died!”
If Sugar Maple hadn’t called me last night to wish me a meaningful Purple Day, I likely would have forgotten all about it.
You see, I’ve been playing mostly aging-off games for the past few years, with a few exceptions, so, aside from coming for the Vatore siblings (who seem drawn to the Spice District festivals, held, of course, under the fatal sun) and a few side characters, the Grim Reaper’s been scarce.
Life is like that, too. I’m poised in a era where no one close to me has passed. My partner and I, our extended family, and our close friends are all, thank the blessings, in good health. I’ve healed from the decade-long grieving period for my dad, thanks, in part, to having written Goofy Love and all the goodbyes that legacy required. When life dances with you, it’s easy to forget what waits on the other side.
But, fortunately, Sugar called, and AdamsEve posted In Celebration of Purple Day: How the Sims Helped me Learn to Love Myself Again and Karilan posted Purple Memories, so I was reminded again how this day, though inspired by a game and the digital characters we love within that game, has its source in the feelings, insights, and love of physical people.
But maybe I would have remembered anyway…
This morning, in the chapter of one of my current favorite stories, Karilan’s How to Live With Grace, a Sim and character I love, Brooke, the gen-2 heir, met with Grim. As readers of generational stories, we know this is coming. As Simmers, we recognize that moment when an elder, often with a wistful look, stands and walks to an empty spot in the room.
Just a few chapters before, Brooke’s sister, Bethany, passed.
Both these characters, at this point in the story, had moved into the wings: Yet, for me as a reader, their passings felt significant.
Neither Bethany nor Brooke were perfect. Bethany had a mean streak and from her teen years was a kleptomaniac. Her third trait was hot-head. Yet I found myself very fond of her. It’s in Karilan’s writing. Without apology, Karilan simply presented Bethany as she was. No judgment, no regret. And as a result, the reader sees past the traits to the person.
Karilan applied this same acceptance to Brooke, who was socially awkward, especially in her youth, and faced some mental health issues. The challenges don’t define her: Her strength, intelligence, and beautiful spirit do.
I’ve been thinking over the past several days, since reading about Bethany’s passing, about seeing beyond traits, beyond actions and behavior, and into the person. One of my favorite writers, Tara Mohr, wrote recently “There are no enemies.”
This is true. As Mohr points out, it may be an unpopular view, especially in frightening times when blaming seems to offer a mica of hope, but truth is seldom popular.
Acceptance without judgment, love without qualifications, that is grace. Karilan named her story well.
Literature, both the reading and the writing of it, nurtures compassion. For many of us, Simming does the same.
This is the heart of Purple Day: to look past the form, into the heart, and to discover that spark that, in the words of Sugar Maple, belongs to the patterns that do not fade.
And it’s those patterns that, for many of us, keep us writing, keep us reading, and keep us loving.