Friday, November 18, 2011

Start a new chapter

My great-grandmother loved to read. Her house was full of books. Much like her I am an avid reader. As a little girl, I would disappear into a good mystery: the excitement that built as I turned each page. I would usually tell myself, “Just one more chapter.” This would be repeated dozens of times, until my eyes protested and let me know it was time to quit for the day.

Life is not as simple as reading a book, however. Change is good when it’s happening on a piece of paper, but it’s not so easy to accept in real life. Unfortunately, you can’t stay in your favorite chapter and keep reading it indefinitely.

A year and two months after my dad died, my family had to start a new chapter. My dad’s wife and son, as well as my aunt and long-lost cousin, all came to North Carolina for a visit, without my dad. As we picked them up from the airport, it felt like a layer of fog was hanging over us: heavy fog that wouldn’t let the rays of sun shine through. My mind kept telling me, “Dad should be here.” But he wasn’t.

This turning point was hard, but it was what I needed and the story did start to improve. We had a spectacular week together. We reminisced and we cried, but more than anything we laughed. I got to know my aunt, my dad’s wife and my favorite cousin better. My dad, who normally was the connector in our family wasn’t there to connect us, so we had to do it on our own.

While my aunt was with us, she said that the day my great-grandfather died they all worried about my great-grandmother surviving without him. They went into her room to check on her that night and found her snuggled in bed, reading a book. That was the last thing they expected a grief-stricken widow to be doing, but maybe she knew what I am just now understanding: sometimes you just have to turn the page and start a new chapter.

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