“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.
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.
When 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.
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. Trucks 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.