Honesty, Goodness and Lies is a quest to discover what happened to my stepdaughter. Gretchen died at age 24, several months before I met her father and five years before Keith and I married. Listening to Keith’s stories and, with his encouragement, reading Gretchen’s journals was like walking an alternate path, one I both envied and feared. Because I am a ‘good’ girl, and Gretchen was not. She was more honest. “I want distance, I want to have that and call it love,” Gretchen wrote. In some ways, the same was true of me, and I didn’t know why.

My story examines the human need for affection, friendship and romance, all subject to imperfection – a situation Gretchen and I could not bear. I managed to survive; Gretchen did not. And yet, she experienced life far more deeply and understood goodness better than most. Reading Gretchen’s journals opened me to the truth in her life and my own. I fell in love with the daughter I would never meet. In the end, I took off my good-girl face and learned one of life’s greatest lessons: how to bear the pain of saying goodbye.

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