Last week I talked with my cousin, Linda, in Delaware. Her mom, an aunt I also loved like a mother, died earlier this year. Linda is faced with cleaning out her mother's house and disposing of the things she kept over the years. As we talked and she read me letters her mother had kept, I realized that my aunt had documented her life by the things she'd saved. My cousin had access to a part of her mother she hadn't fully realized during her mother's life. Linda was surprised and awestruck by the things her mother was still teaching--the profound impact of this one, seemingly simple, life.
I've belonged to a book club for more than twenty years. The five other women in the group have become much more than friends. The books we've read have led us into discussions that reach far beyond the scope of any given book. For this month's selection, we read Kent Hauf's new novel, Benediction. It was about one good man's death. The story was powerful in the simplicity of its telling and the depth of the love of his wife of more than half a century.
Everyone dies. It is a simple and predictable act. And yet profound in ways none of the living can fully know. We are fascinated, a little frightened and more than a little curious. I suppose another reason we document our lives is to leave something of ourselves behind--something that might speak of our unique place in the cycle of life.
Three days ago, I discovered Catherine Ryan Hyde, another writer who writes simple and profound stories. I have already read When I Found You and Don't Let Me Go. Both stories are very simply told, yet profound. I laughed and I cried through these books and long after I turned the last page, I was haunted by them, still carrying them around inside me. Hyde also wrote Pay it Forward from which the very popular movie was made. Did any of us know, or remember that Hyde wrote that incredible story? Most of us probably did not.
Perhaps acknowledgement isn't nearly so important as the ideas she got down on paper--the message she and Kent Hauf are giving all of us through their writings. They are documenting, over and over, what they have deemed to matter most. Take stock of your life. Document it. Examine it. And discover beauty in the everyday. Find the people and the things you love and hold onto them.