Tim talks to me in ways that I did not anticipate. I’m not talking about dreams. Those are rare these days, but even when I see him it never surprises me. That was something he seemed to establish in the beginning of all this. Although no words have been exchanged lately when I do see him in my dreams, I wake up thankful and comforted like when you hear news that an old friend you’ve lost touch with is doing well.
The books though, the books are surprising.
Now you have two choices as you continue to read the rest of this post. You can take this as a grieving woman foolishly searching for any signs of her lost love, or you can join me for a some emotional folly. Me? Well I’ve never been too proud for a little bit of folly.
I was visiting my friends and their new baby when the first book snuck up on me.
“Let me show you this book we got,” the husband said. “This is the strangest “kids” book I’ve ever read. I want to know what you think.”
When he retrieved the thin hardbound book from the nursery, I immediately recognized the author – Neil Gaiman. “That’s Tim’s favorite author! He’s actually a really big deal in the literary world.”
“Well this book is WEIRD,” he said as he handed it to me to read.
Now if you’re not familiar with Neil Gaiman, a lot of the stuff he writes is weird. I’ve read some which included a hybrid spider person as a main character, but Tim devoured everything the man wrote. I kept all the Gaiman books he owned with plans to read them when I was ready, and as I flipped through the children’s book, Blueberry Girl, I felt like the words were written just for me. It has a video from YouTube which is the poem narrated by Gaiman, and it’s worth a listen if you haven’t heard it.
As I read the book, a line stood out to me in particular.
I’ll try, I thought as I paused at the page.
The weird thing about the book is that my friend’s have no idea who sent it. It showed up from Amazon with no note or return address. Of course what’s likely is that one of their friends (perhaps a literary friend) sent it and simply forgot to mark as a gift. That’s the logical answer, but I prefer the nebulous. Either way, I got a message to keep dreaming and keep trying from my husband’s favorite author in a time that I needed it.
My second surprise has technically been waiting for me since 1943.
Working at an office of gamers, previews for animated movies get passed around email chains more often than corgi gifs. That’s how I found myself batting back tears at my desk a few weeks ago when I first saw the trailer for The Little Prince.
Now as a self proclaimed writer and lover of books, I’m ashamed to say that I had never read The Little Prince. Yes, it’s a beloved classic around the world and translated into more languages than I can count, but somehow it totally missed my radar as a kid. After I watched the preview several times in a row like a crazy person, I decided that I needed to read this book. That night at home, I went to my bookshelf to find Tim’s copy. I did with very little difficulty, but it was in French.
“Every high school French class has to read this,” he said so many years ago when we first put our books into the same bookcase. I didn’t remember him having a strong opinion of the classic, but decided to order an English copy for myself since I didn’t anticipate add learning French to my list of current activities.
Last night I dived into the book. I expected a sweet story with a few good lines, but in actuality I sat there and sobbed with this tiny little book in my hands. (If you haven’t read the book and want to be surprised like I was, stop reading now).
I traveled through that story like someone hungry for enlightenment, and there was so much to choose from. The dynamic with the fox is something I’ll probably write another post on entirely, because as I read each line I just thought about Simon hanging his head over the gate of his pasture and licking my hand while the sun set behind him earlier that night. But we’re talking about Tim and not Simon, so let’s get back to that.
When the Little Prince explains to the narrator his gift of the stars, I couldn’t think of anything but Tim. The words on the page grew blurry from my tears, but they weren’t words from a fictional dreamer anymore… they were from him. They were from Tim and the laughing stars were the skies we gazed at together in hill country, in Maine or really – around the world. They were the same stars that I’ll see on a clear night at the barn and think to myself, Tim would like this sky tonight.
“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . .”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
As I read those words I cried not only because I missed my husband so much, but also because I am so content to have known him. I guess in the end it doesn’t matter how I come across the things, whether it’s some divine intervention or just dumb luck. The words on the pages fill a gap in the void that exists without being able to talk to my best friend. They offer suggested answers for complicated situations where there are no real answers. I’ll never know, but I don’t care to know for sure. Folly doesn’t bring hope if you dissect it to death.