Reading The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe and wham, I am hit. I have this aha moment that leaves me speechless, and all I can do is nod my head in agreement.
Schwalbe tells the story of Bob. One of those close family friends that was always welcome in the house and always brought something different to the conversation. Well-read and well-traveled, he was easily the smartest person in the room; although, people around him would feel his equal. His curiosity knew no bounds.
At the age of 81, Bob suffered a massive stroke and was suddenly gone. The Schwalbe family never recovered and still brings him up in conversation. What do you think Bob would think of this book? How do you think Bob would react to this event?
Here comes my aha moment, “He [Bob] remains for my family the perfect model of how you can be gone but ever present in the lives of people who loved you, in the same way that your favorite books stay with you for your entire life, no matter how long it’s been since you turned the last page.”
I closed the book. I closed my eyes. In my mind I picture all those I lost from the Smith family sitting on a shelf together like different colored and sized books. Their stories all bundled up in their bodies waiting for me to take one down for story time, I cried.
My favorite book of all time is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. When I was little, I would beeline for it in the library. I can even remember my mother saying no to the book and trying to place another one in my hands.
What my mother did not understand, nor I able to explain, was why “Where the Wild Things Are” was so important. The wild things were my uncles, aunts and grandparents on my father’s side. I was Max and I was afraid of the Smiths.
The Smiths were hairy or not, my grandfather being a shiny cue ball, and they all lived together in the same house two to a room. I thought them all loud and lumpy. Just like the “wild things,” they loomed in the old house that was equally dark and scary.
We buried the last of the wild Smiths yesterday. I was never able to tame them. Only age slowed them down, but I will forever hold their stories close to my heart like my favorite books.