Ryann’s Last Read: Trucks Go


“What would you read if you knew your time was almost up?”

Lynne, Melanie and I threw the question around on Twitter one day and instantly it became something else: something heavier, more important and impossible to keep to ourselves. The question has been on my mind in the days since and I’ve discussed it with various family and friends.

But mostly, I remembered.

Both of my parents died young, each sick for months before they passed. Ilessonbeforedying was 22 when my mom was sick and aghast at the books given to her after the terminal diagnosis. A Lesson Before Dying? REALLY?

I didn’t care that it was an Oprah book at the time. I just couldn’t understand it. How could I?

She read the book and then gave it to me. I read it too, but with the attention of a high schooler reading a class assignment, without really letting it sink in and take hold. It wasn’t the only one, there were others too. Why would people give books like these at a time such as this?

Because she probably needed them. She was the kind of person that could face things head on.

And people with more life experience knew it.

My Dad was a different story–literally. A long extended hospital stay, sometimes under heavy sedation, meant for a lot of opportunities for Ryann to read aloud. When he was sedated, I read to him from the books assigned in my grad school Young Adult literature class. I’m sure the medical personal appreciated my valiant effort with the various accents I attempted in Avi’s A Fighting Ground.

heismenWhen he was better, I read to him from Heisman: Great American Stories of the Men Who Won. I’d read a chapter at a time and we’d talk about the time period, the player, and any connections my football loving father had to that section.

I still have that book. I can’t read it again, but I also can’t let it go.

But now, back to me. When we first tossed the question around, I immediately thought of Anne of Green Gables. Then I remembered–MATTHEW.

So, no.

What about a book I’d always meant to read? A book from the stacks and lists of ones I said I would get to, someday? No. I didn’t want to waste my last book on a title that someone else had said I should read.

Or, one that would leave me wanting to talk about it with others. Or one that was someone else’s idea of heaven, the afterlife, spirituality or any of these things.

I’d want peace. The most peaceful moments of my life right now come when rocking Baby Uden to sleep–in that short, blissful window between baby-in-constant-motion and baby-asleep-in-your-arms. trucksgoTrucks Go by Steve Light over and over again. There is tranquility in the repetition, comfort in the knowledge of what the next page will bring, and peace in the time spent together, sharing smiles at the parts we love best.

This is the feeling I’d want to recapture just one more time. Hopefully my baby would no longer be a baby anymore, but these memories last a lifetime.

So, an odd choice. A short book. But, that’s life for you. Fast, fleeting and packed with small moments to treasure.

5 Responses

  1. Dang it, now I’m crying.

    This is really lovely and I enjoyed your thought process leading up to it. And the story of reading with your dad is really special.

  2. When you finish mopping Melonie up over there, I’ll take the rest of the tissues. Thank you for sharing the way you were feeling (I almost just edited and said “felt” but I think this requires ALL THE FEELINGS WE CAN GET) while experiencing a really difficult time. Twice. I know how you feel and can think of no greater balm for what might be coursing through your mind than harkening back to your sweet baby and the light in their eyes when you say those words.

    Another fabulous choice!

  3. Wonderful post, Ryann! The best books tug you somewhere inside, not just amuse you for a few hours. I will forever know that the first book Sean and I read to Abby was Dr. Seuss’ Sleep Book. Tucked into the incubator, surrounded and stuck by wires, we weren’t even allowed to hold her yet, but we could read to her…. and now she’s a few weeks shy of 10 years old and we are reading the Hobbit together.

  4. Thanks Amy and Pamala! You are both right–there is a power to books and the connections with build with others through them. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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