Then what happened?

If you have never watched a Hallmark Television movie, let me summarize every single one: A stressed out woman is beautiful, but not glamourous, and has something happen that forces her to work with a handsome, but frustrating, guy. After about 30 minutes, the woman has a conversation with the guy where she uncovers the diamond in the rough, but by the next day guy is acting like nothing happened (or the woman is, or sometimes both). 30 minutes later there is a near-kiss moment due to a trip or argument that gets too close. Then 30 minutes later there are googly eyes, just before a family secret, bothersome ex, or minor confusion that is majority blown out of proportion threatens to send the almost love birds far far away from each other. 15 minutes of drama drama drama before the resolution begins leading to a final kiss, the first kiss for these two in the most romantic place imaginable. Cue credits.

There you go. Every Hallmark Television movie, basically. It’s a reliable ride with a happily ever after.

But then what happens? What happens after that first, amazing kiss? It’s easy to imagine the new pair in happy bliss for a few hours, days, or even weeks. Does it last for months or years? Or is there a fight when the woman’s second novel doesn’t sell? Or does the guy’s financial plan fall flat? Or what if the 2.5 kids and 1.6 pets doesn’t happen as expected in their cottage by the sea?

Those are the parts of the story that I wish were available, especially as a single woman who grew up on Disney. I want to know what happens when the going gets tough. I guess that doesn’t make good television.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the tragic story, which all too often is on the news rather than in a fictional movie.

This week on the news there was a story in my neighborhood about a car accident that took the lives of two women. A young man with a criminal background and a warrant for his arrest hit two sisters. One of the sisters died at the scene while the other passed away at the hospital. The story shared that these two sisters were inseparable. One had moved to the city to support the other through cancer treatment (an illness that should have killed her a few months before). The man was arrested, the sisters’ family was grieving, and the news will be back after these words from our sponsor.

Again the audience is left not knowing what happens next. We can assume that the family will recover in time (as much as grief allows) and that the man will go to jail. But let’s take a moment longer than the flash on the news intends. That man’s life will be forever changed, no matter what happens next. Perhaps it will be jail for months or maybe the rest of his life. No matter what, he will have taken a life. We can hope that somehow there will be good that comes from this tragedy. Perhaps he will help others to not follow his path. Perhaps he will devote his life to helping others. Perhaps so many things. But we don’t get to know.

The news has to move on, there are ratings to earn and viewers to please. As part of humanity, we should know and care about what happens next.

A blank screen is not the end of the story. It shouldn’t be the end of our wondering what happened.

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