This past weekend, I read a book for an endorsement, written for the general market by Skye Taylor. The book was about a couple falling in love. Both had challenging past issues and complicated present lives. Both suffered stunning disregard by people who purported loved them. How quick others were to deem what was right and wrong and just and morally acceptable for these two. While they had every reason to feel put upon and, well, like martyrs, they didn’t. They rose to the challenges and made the effort to do what was right. Not easy or convenient, and not right just for themselves, but for all.
I loved that. I finished the book at nearly one this morning, then went off to bed, thoughtful and well pleased with the book. It enabled me to forget I write for a time, and as any writer can tell you, it’s hard to read for pleasure and not think like a writer when reading. So when it happens, it’s thrilling. And because it happened, I could really get the messages in the book. I loved that, too.
For the past two months, I’ve had a dear friend tapping at death’s door. This morning, death answered and she has now gone home. When I lose someone close, I always feel so divided, much like one of the character’s in Miss Taylor’s book. There is the way I feel I’m supposed to react–the celebration because she isn’t at home here but is now truly at home. The surety that all in Heaven were waiting with open arms to welcome her. The relief that the suffering is over and the pain endured here is in the past.
And there’s the way I do react. That very human part of me that struggles still with letting go–for totally selfish reasons. I will miss her. Her humor. Her caring ways. Her penchant for making lemonade. If there was an upside to be found, she would and did find it. And no slacking because something was hard. No, ma’am. You deal with it. Now.
As we grow older, the inner circle of those we know well, and those who know us well and find it in their hearts to love us in spite of our many flaws, dwindles. It’s natural, normal, inherent to the circle of life and a reminder to us all that we’re here for a twinkling.
While we understand and accept our place in this world and the one to come, it doesn’t diminish the value we place on those here with us. To mourn them isn’t an expression of a lack of trust or faith. It’s acknowledgement that while here, the deceased made a difference in our lives. The role played was significant to us. We respect it, and we will miss them.
The pragmatic female lead in Ms. Taylor’s book drove that home to me this weekend. And this morning I learned that my friend had slipped away during the night.
My point is a simple one. The book touched me at a time I needed to be touched. I needed the reminder about the normality of reality, and that acceptance and being accepted opens hearts to healing wounds. All manner of wounds.
In the rush of daily life, it’s easy to forget the potential for books to touch lives. And for that reminder, I thank Ms. Taylor and my friend. Like life, love and loss are often complicated and messy and maybe that’s what makes them such a blessing.
In the book, the characters loved well. By its end, they were also loved well. My friend loved well and was well loved.
There’s an innocent beauty in that. A reassuring certainty about taking on the challenges warning us to close our hearts to prevent being hurt or experiencing pain and ignoring those warnings and opening our hearts anyway. Loving anyway. And doing it knowing the risks, knowing loss is possible.
Perhaps it does take courage to love and suffer loss–to truly experience either, I mean.
But it takes perhaps even more courage to willingly do either knowing pain is possible. And maybe, just maybe, the wisdom shared in books like Ms. Taylor’s remind us at just the right moment of why we should continue to open our hearts.
I like to think that’s the case. It’s like a divine hug, a blessing. It’s reassurance of what we need being provided to us when we need it. I feel that way today, and it is humbling and welcome.
Has a book appeared in your life and touched you when you most needed touching? Helped you through a hard time? Given you insight or guidance when you faced a challenge?
If so, I hope you’ll share it in the comments.