I walked through town with a dear friend last night. I think the many miles we've walked together has trained our stride to be almost identical. We don't miss a beat when we hit the pavement. Last night, however, we changed our route. We drove through town and found a spot to park near Tower Park. I grabbed the Anna Dewdney book Llama, Llama Nighty-Night from the seat next to me and jumped out of the car. Since I have learned to lean into grief, I know that when my heart physically hurts the only way I can be close to Charlie is to physically be close to him. I am still so thankful to have friends that know when something is not exactly right and say, "Absolutely!" when I ask them to walk through a cemetery late at night.
Once we arrived we stopped and sat at Charlie's grave. This sweet friend sat right down, turned on her flashlight on her cell phone, and waited for me to read the book (out loud y'all). I don't think she thought twice about it, in fact I think she kind of enjoyed it! She sat with me at my son's grave and listened to Llama, Llama Nighty-Night. That was my mourning booth last night. It was where I needed someone to just be with me. If you want to be a friend to someone that is grieving sit with them in their "mourning booth" wherever that may be.
Since Anna Dewdney, who wrote some of our favorite books, lost her fight with cancer I wanted to make sure Charlie was familiar with those books. I had this feeling that she would have a crowd full of little ones sitting around her at some point sharing some of her favorite stories about Llama Llama on the golden streets. This is where grief is weird and should not be judged. I had this aching, sick feeling that I wanted to be the first person to share her books with my boy. I wanted him to hear her books from me first. I obviously know he isn't there when I'm visiting the cemetery and I know that I don't need to be the one "doing" for him anymore but this momma is desperate to parent and love and do for my baby. Macy and Johnny heard a Llama, Llama favorite that evening and Charlie should not (and absolutely would not) be left out.
We love reading in our home. It takes us to special places and teaches us new things. There are endless places to see and visit in books and there are so many things you can learn and understand when you read books. John and I, both being teachers, see when "teachable moments" grace our presence and we can't help but take them. Our world, as we all know, is not perfect. So as a family we decide daily to embrace the blessings and mourn losses. We wholeheartedly believe in "a time to dance and a time to mourn."
So when a beloved author dies from a horrible disease I want my kids to understand that she is gone and her family misses her. I want them to know that she left a mark on the world. She shared her gifts and talents with others in a positive way. I want them to know that she will continue to make children smile because of her gift. I want my kids to know that it is alright to be sad and in the very same breathe it is alright to celebrate someone's life.