Monday, February 24, 2020

Anne of Green Gables and five-year plans

I read the last three chapters of Anne of Green Gables to the kids tonight. Usually we read one chapter (sometimes two) but tonight we couldn't help ourselves and we gobbled up the whole thing.

Having to read aloud about Matthew's death was difficult. I've never had to do it before. I bought these books when we lived in Durham but never got around to reading them aloud to Rachel and Miriam (though they've since read the Anne books (or some of them) to themselves). Reading that part aloud was tough, though now that I'm reviewing it in my mind I can't pinpoint the exact parts that made me cry. It was just all so beautifully put.

When I read the line, "It was the last night before sorrow touched her life; and no life is ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch has been laid upon it," I knew I was doomed.

But "the tears don't hurt me like that ache did," though they did concern the children quite a bit. Zoë kept asking me if I was sad because Matthew died or if I was sad for some other reason (and could I please stop crying?). Benjamin tiptoed out of his room with his beloved "Lamb-y" and tucked him in beside me to help me feel better before running away and jumping back into his bed. It was very sweet.

It's hard to believe...oh, so many things. It's hard to believe it's been over a year since Karen's death. And it's hard to believe that she's probably the closest death I've experienced. My grandparents have all died, of course, but I didn't know them like I knew Karen (I lived with Karen for over 10% of my life, which is surreal). Mathematically speaking, I've now known Andrew's living grandparents longer than I knew some of my own grandparents. All of that is just wild to me.

But we're a year out from Karen's death and life will never be the same again and yet somehow is more or less back to normal.

"Anne, new to grief, thought it almost sad that it could be so—that they could go on in the old way without Matthew. She felt something like shame and remorse when she discovered that the sunrises behind the first and the pale pink buds opening the garden gave her the old inrush of gladness when she saw them..."

"When Matthew was here he liked to hear you laugh and he liked to know that you found pleasure in the pleasant things around you.... He is just away now; and he likes to know it just the same. I am sure we should not shut our hearts against the healing influences that nature offers us. But I understand your feeling... We resent the thought that anything can please us when some one we love is no longer here to share the pleasure with us, and we almost feel as if we were unfaithful to our sorrow when we find our interest in life returning to us."

When I finished reading—my tears shed and dried by this point—Benjamin said, "Can we start Anne of Avonlea tomorrow?"

I don't see why not...if they really enjoyed listening to it (which I think they did). It's such a good story and Anne is such an endearing character.

That was another reason reading this book was difficult. It takes Anne from a child to a young woman (more or less) and her childhood just flew by. Rachel was still eleven when we moved here and all of a sudden if feels like she's nearly thirteen! The other night at dinner we joked about coming up with a bucket list of everything she wants to do with the family before she grows up and goes away to college. But it wasn't really a joke. Those five years will fly by, I know! And that's wild to think about, too!


  1. "The researchers found that at the core of meaningful endings is one of the most complex emotions humans experience: poignancy, a mix of happiness and sadness...the most powerful endings deliver poignancy because poignancy delivers significance. One reason we overlook poignancy is that it operates by an upside-down form of emotional physics. Adding a small component of sadness to an otherwise happy moment elevates that moment, rather than diminishes it... The best endings don't leave us happy. Instead, they produce something richer-- -a rush of unexpected insight, a fleeting moment of transcendence..." -- Daniel H. Pink in WHEN page 164.

  2. I still remember trying to read Love you Forever to Zoe and Riley after Karen's death. It was a mere child's book. I couldn't read the end of the book. It was too hard. I still find death to be a sensitive topic for me. I guess that is a change in my life I have to get used to. Here is the link to the audio version of that book.

  3. Yes, the years go by fast! My 1st nephew is 18 today. I still remember when he was born, and I went up to the hospital prepared to be there for hours, and he came within an hour of my getting there. (Steph did a lot of laboring at home before she went in that morning.) Their little dog died last night, and between the loss of Bagel, and looking at pictures of Michael with Bagel when Michael was so much younger, I was crying off and on until midday. Good thing I was home alone. :-) Last night I was putting on some socks and it made me think of my grandmother and the slippers she wore around the house. That made me cry because I missed her and Pop. Clearly, I have issues (ha!). All that to say, I miss Karen being here for y'all. She was a precious person.