Falling Fire

Personal News (Provided for Context)

Had a friend.

He married his high school sweetheart.

The year he turned 38, his first child started college, the second high school.

"Feels so empty" he said

"You'll understand."

I married later,

To someone I wish I'd known from childhood.

The year I turned 38, buried two children, lost another from miscarriage.

Feels so empty

I understand.

Written in 1994.

Last year was amazingly hard. My oldest daughter Jessica died on January 26, 1993 on our wedding anniversary. She would have been seven in February. The pathology team at UCLA thought they had a definite label, but the CDC review puts it back to no diagnosed cause, just thirty days in PICU with ARDS. Probably a fluke side effect of the flu.

Eleven months to the day later, our twenty-two month old baby Courtney died as the result of an auto immune loss of the pancreas following the flu. I still remember the doctor "you have nothing to worry about, I guarantee it" and then the trip down 405 to UCLA to hear "no known successful course of treatment in children under four years of age."

Computer Games, Falling Fire

I am generally not much for computer games. My wife gave me Starflight years ago (I played it in CGA emulation on an 8088-2). However, Wing Commander was recommended to me for use in working out the anger and emotion associated with death and I found it very effective.

Wing Commander II and Wing Commander Academy, while I suppose being good games, did not fit the therapeutic profile well. (WCII has a very dark mood at times. I know it is relative [I am in the Call of Cthulhu and other genre credits after all], but ...). WCII was also too easy.

Privateer has been what I needed and has worked out well.

After finally giving in and setting it up (I got it as part of a promotion involving other software we needed for the office), I found that I had more energy and more concentration as a result of using the game. Basically, Privateer fits the profile of what I need to work out anger and aggression. Everything else I can fit within my life, but I have no acceptable outlet for anger. The game helps me function.

If you have any similar problem in your life, dealing with intense grief, or know someone who does, suggest Wing Commander (available at Wal-Marts everywhere for under $20.00) or Privateer (I got it free, I'm not sure as to the usual retail). Skip WCII and WCA. (As an aside, Wing Commander II is on several top 5 lists and is rated best in its category from a game viewpoint. It just lacks other elements relevant to resolving stress positively.).

And, by the by, I have complete solutions worked out for both games, including walk throughs for Kurasawa mission 2 and Tayrn Cross 3 and 4. If you know anyone who is struggling with parts of the game, have them drop me a note and I'll send the solutions back. For Righteous Fire I also have notes, but (except for one scenario) it does not need solutions.

In addition to the game solutions, I also have a short paper, When a Child Dies, that deals with the grief process. The details differ, but the strain is the same for all intense grief patterns. My family has suffered a great deal, but then we have also been helped a great deal more than most who have lost jobs, been divorced, or lost a loved one. When a Child Dies is also available free of charge.

I've worked out whatever need I had to play the games and to write about them, so Falling Fire is going out of print and closing with this issue.

This is the last issue, unless something really, really terrible happens. For the future, I suspect I will be more likely buying Always Arthur and similar games for my remaining daughter who loves Reader Rabbit.


Stephen R. Marsh



Post Script

Since this was written we've gone through another miscarriage and had a third child die -- this one of heart problems, post surgery.  [details]  Some games help with the stress.  I find that when the stress is resolved, I begin to lose interest in the flight sim games (until a new one comes out).  I did buy Always Arthur and Reader Rabbit and my daughter Heather loved them.  She also likes going around the town and listening to the gossip in Diablo.