Stories and grieving.

by Veronica on June 16, 2015

in Grief

“Mummy! I need you to make me a bottle! And do my iPad! And read me a bedtime story.”

Evelyn’s bedtime routine doesn’t change much, but sometimes she wants a story and other times she doesn’t. She went through a stage of only wanting the same five books over and over again – new books were thrown at our faces in disgust until they ceased to seem new to her – until I was so tired of the same stories that I quit reading to her.

So I instituted a library policy. Now, every fortnight or so, I take Evelyn to the library and she helps me pick out eight new picture books.

Tonight, I had a full library bag of unread books and we spent a happy ten minutes snuggled, reading new books, while Isaac did his home reading and Amy searched high and low for the library book she was meant to be looking after.

It’s fraught in our house at the moment. Heidi – almost eight months old and bored with the cold weather and indoor training sessions – has taken to delicately stealing books from my lower book shelves and tearing them to shreds.

This is how I know that books make great firelighters, as I was unable to save both a Readers Digest Condensed Books volume which belonged to my grandmother, and a cookbook of supposedly Provincial French Cooking – although I remain dubious about using canned soups in proper meals.

It was a worrying few minutes as Amy wrung her hands exclaiming that she couldn’t possibly find the book she had lost and couldn’t I just do it for her? I finished with Evelyn, and Amy dragged me to her bedroom to “help” her.

I carefully put the bookshelves back in order, smoothing slightly gnawed pages and tucking books into shelves tightly in an attempt to foil the puppy, while I directed Amy to all the places the book was probably lost.

Making her bed, she discovered the lost book, and I discovered my Sara Douglass books, pulled out and tossed aside. Clearly the puppy is not a discerning book chewer – going for the cheap thrills, rather than the intricate world building Douglass provided, once upon a time.

Death is a tricky thing. Sara Douglass will forever live on in her words, her essays, the snippets of sentences will linger inside my head forever. But her chance to change the world any further is gone, torn away by death.

It’s June again, which of course means death is weighing heavily on my mind again. It’s been almost six years since Nan died, and the hole she left will never be full again. The wind whistles through it sometimes, when the days are cold, long, and dark.

I packed the books away again, remembering where each of them came from. My reduced library is cobbled together from my dead grandmother’s books, books I shamelessly stole from my mother when I moved out, books I bought for my children, myself, my husband.

Ninety percent of my bookshelves hold soap now, not books. There’s no room in my house for books. Under the weight of a business run out of my dining room, where can I find places for books? My shelves are filled with cured and curing soap, and the sight of them gives me pleasure also, a reminder of work done and completed, of potential, of love.

But I miss a houseful of books sometimes.

I institute reading times – the lower shelves remain book filled (I can’t have the soap below hip height because dust dogs children toddlers life) and a magnet for a bored angsty puppy who would really be happiest if I stopped teaching her to sit/drop/stay and instead let her chase chickens and cats all day.

And we go to the library, where I can wander in peace, surrounded by the sound of books and happiness.

People will always die, but their stories live on inside us.

There’s peace in that thought.


David June 16, 2015 at 11:19 pm


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