Books to Make You Cry
Our oldest daughter is ten and a half years old and quintessentially pre-pubescent. The combination of whackadoodle hormones, living in three different countries in the last two years, and our current very close familial quarters has her feeling a bit . . . . fragile. I remember ten. Not quite as vividly as I remember fourteen, and dear god please don’t make me go through THAT again. So the other day she and I went to a bookstore to find her a diary WITH A LOCK to keep out her little sister.
We browsed blank books and journals and she critiqued size of pages, design of pages, outer cover, presence of lock, etc., in order to find the perfect journal. I am a total sucker for stationery of all sorts. I love good pens and pretty notebooks with high-quality paper that soaks up the ink from my fountain pen, so I happily compared volumes with her and discussed their relative merits. (We selected the mid-sized lockable journal. The lock broke on the way home from the store in the car, after two uses. We’re not going to tell the little sister that the lock is busted.)
As we stood in a long line to check out, I noticed the young couple behind me, with a baby in a decked out stroller. The parents were in their mid- to late twenties, tatooed and pierced, and I watched dad wonder–congenially–at mom’s choice of The Giving Tree as a book for their baby. She protested that it was a classic and she’d loved it as a kid. I butted in and asked her: “But can you read it all the way through without crying?” She thought for a second and laughed and said, “probably not. But this is better than I’ll Love You Forever, which kills me every single time.”
At this point, my daughter, who had been eyeing the fancy bookmarks, added her two cents. “Yeah, my dad ALWAYS cried when he read that to us.” The Giving Tree was my weak spot; Dale couldn’t make it through I’ll Love You Forever without choking up.
At this point, the middle-aged woman in front of me in line–a librarian, it turns out–tells us the story of Robert Munsch writing I’ll Love You Forever as therapy to process the death of his baby twins. She promised we’d never get through it with a dry eye again.
There we were: a middle-aged librarian, a mom with her daughter whosnotababyanymore, and hipster young parents with their first baby, talking about books to make you cry. Not putting into words how fragile life is, how much we love the children we bring into this world, how having them out and about and walking around is like having your heart attached to someone else’s feet.