My dear friend Dr. Deborah Siegel, Ph.D. hosted a book event with author Christina Baker Kline. Christina is best known for her works “Orphan Train” and “A Piece of the World.” Deb and Christina taught writing classes together when they were living in New York.
I believe I mentioned in an earlier blog post about how I made a total asshat of myself the day Deb and I met in Cherry’s parent room. She was quietly reading a work of feminist literature when I interrupted her to brag that I’d already read that book and had an undergraduate minor in women’s studies. Deb has written volumes on the topic and was a women’s studies scholar at Northwestern. Despite putting my foot in it, our friendship blossomed as did our children’s’ friendship.
Christina mailed me a beautifully wrapped book called, “The Book That Matters Most” by Ann Hood. It is a novel about a mother’s loss of her daughter. It was a generous and thoughtful gift. Since Constance’s passing this year, many friends and friends of friends have gifted me books on grieving. The hospital where Constance passed has also sent me literature on a monthly basis to help with my grief. With the present, Christina included a card with her wish that the book will help me in some way. I think that with all of the books I am given, that is every gifter’s hope. It is a noble and kind goal.
I tried reading “The Book That Matters Most” repeatedly. There was something about knowing the topic that meant I kept being overwhelmed with anxiety and dread. I kept thinking, “She’s going to die. She’d doesn’t know it and her mom doesn’t know it but it is going to happen.” I started doing hotel room yoga and changed to every possible position on every piece of furniture as if striking the right pose would keep the tentacles of grief from pricking me all over. No position worked. I closed the book, put it in my luggage, and thought, “I have to remember to send a thank you card,” and then climbed into bed for a good long cry.
When I woke up, there was still a hole in my chest and Edvard Munch’s The Scream on my pillow where my tears had pushed my makeup off. I tipped the housekeepers and went to work.