Do you have places you go sometimes to escape life? Like an empty chapel, or a deserted park where it’s quiet and you can mull stuff over? I do!
One of my special places is the library…..it has many memories attached to it…..both in the pages of some classic books like ‘Courdroy’ and of the times Savannah and I would visit for hours on end.
Corduroy, Savannah adored this book...I have many special memories of her giggling to it.
All the librarians would dote over Savannah. They'd tell her how cute she was or pinch her rosy cheeks. So it was difficult to go back and tell them she’d died.
And for a long time, I couldn’t muster the courage to see the friendly librarians…..or face the covers of Savannah’s favorite books like ‘Goodnight Moon’ or “The Hungry Caterpillar,” that seemed to have turned into horror stories, haunting me….staring out from the shelves.
Two of Savannah's and now Dempsey's favorite books
And like anyone nursing their wounds through grief, it took me a long time to be brave enough to attempt a visit without being bombarded by heart palpitations. I know this is common when re-visiting somewhere that has special memories attached to it. However, I’m glad I persevered, as it's one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. Its like religion to me…..and now Dempsey!
Every Saturday afternoon, we fill our ‘crate on wheels’ with books we’ve devoured from the week before, then head five minutes down the busy road to my therapy session.
As soon as we wander inside the atmosphere has an instant calming effect…like inhaling some anesthetic gas before an operation. Its quiet, oh so quiet! Usually, all you can hear is the whisper of teenagers and the gentle tapping of keyboards coming from the tech area. My mood transforms instantly!
I'm formerly known as a ‘Jackie Collins’ kinda girl or a ‘Betty Crocker’ fan, where I would lean in an aisle and salivate over the cook book section for hours. However, I’ve morphed into a metaphysics disciple......now. I stalk the self help shelves, death and dying section and read greedily……hoping to learn a snippet from a book that will help me heal more.
My crate on wheels...it allows us to gather up to 32 books :)
I trawl the aisles with my crate dragging behind……fellow patrons always look at the plastic collapsible box (the only one I’ve seen by the way), then up at me with a blank stare. I’m not a mind reader but I’m guessing they think of me like a ‘bag lady’ and probably wonder if I fill the box. Well I do, or we do......Dempsey and me. She always rushes off to the children’s area, running her hand along the spines of bright caricature books, all neatly filed in row upon row on metal shelving.
We choose our books for the week and I hope I’ve found one with some lessons inside. It has been one of my survival tools….the library, the books…reading other peoples journeys…..learning what helped after someone dies….also what doesn’t. It confirms to me again that the tears and ache I get is normal and needed, for me to keep going through this chapter in my life…..like a book!
And I hope one day soon to have my book on a shelf. That can help another mother, father, brother, sister or friend get through one of the most extreme experiences in life.
When Savannah was sick, so sick, that she would need constant watching throughout the night, I would write until I had blisters on my finger….Tarnia’s story, Mom’s and of course Savannah’s story. It was healing and I found the words poured out of me. It’s one of my dreams to have my manuscript published and tell their stories…..so that others don’t feel isolated as I did when trying to find books on grief journeys….and ultimately survival. I know if my beautiful Mom was alive she would encourage me to chase my dream……as the library does!
I have many new memories too, like watching Dempsey lie on some soft pillows and read a book to Harlie……the fat, old therapy dog, who slobbers over the pages and makes her believe he’s listening……….
And on the way out, we stop at the large print section, grab a mystery novel for Peter, (who now prefers big bold type as his eyes aren’t what they used to be.) :) We wave at the librarians and they always smile and say “See you next week Mrs Doyle!”