Last week I stumbled across We Are in a Book by Mo Willems. Here’s the gist: Gerald and Piggie discover they are in a
book. At first, this is great, exciting, hilarious. The possibilities are
endless. But when Gerald realizes the book is going to end, it becomes
upsetting. Terrifying, even. The moment Gerald cries out, “But I want to
be read!”, I felt it right in my gut. I realized then that he and I have
something in common. We both want to know: If the book is going to end, what do we do? How do we live?
My grandfather, who is slowly succumbing to dementia, likes
to ask a similar question: “What is the point?” (Of life, he means. Of living,
struggling, and dying.) And ever since my grandfather forgot my name, I’ve been
asking it too.
These days, I've come to realize just how afraid of death I really am (is there anyone who
isn’t?). But there’s a fine line between healthy fear and crippling fear. And I
never want to be crippled by this fear the way Gerald is nearly crippled by it on
page 46. I’ve come to realize, though, that the only way to stop being afraid
is to stop caring, which I also don’t want to do. So, somehow, Gerald and I need
to learn to juggle the two – loving this life that we’ve been given, while also
fearing the loss of it. Because really, that’s what makes life - and books -
precious. The knowledge that they’re going to end. It’s a kind of catch-22.
In The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, her
grandfather says to her, “It is better to travel with hope in one’s heart than
to arrive in safety. We should celebrate today’s failure because it is a clear
sign that our voyage of discovery is not yet over. The day the experiment
succeeds is the day the experiment ends. And I inevitably find that the sadness
of ending outweighs the celebration of success.” Journeys need endings, or else they wouldn't be journeys.