I was randomly pulling books off the shelf in my writing room yesterday when The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame landed in my hand. I have the fondest memories of reading a chapter out loud to Mom and Dad every night when I was a little girl. My brothers and I would take turns reading about Rat and Moley and the eccentric Toad. It's a classic; one of those books that can be read multiple times, at any age.
Chapter One is called The River Bank, which has become a running theme in my life: sit on it, jump in and swim, climb back out, sun on a rock, jump back in, float downstream...go with the flow.
Turning to the title page, my heart broke open as it always does when I see my mother's handwriting. She had given this book to Claire on the occasion of her birth and this is what she wrote:
October 29, 1999
To my darling grandaughter
Claire Elizabeth Collins
May you share my love of reading.
With my love,
I brought it downstairs and showed it to Claire. She said, "Hey Mom, this is mine," and has been reading about Rat and Mole and their adventures on the river bank ever since. Claire, in her old soul wisdom, said the most profoundly healing thing to me, about two years after Mom had died. She was around four years old. She looked me straight in the eye and said, "Mama, don't be sad. Don't you know that she's right here, now? Actually she's right next to you." And she nodded to the space on my right. Four year olds can be very convincing.
In the story, Mole is often overcome by all the newness and beauty of the world above ground, exclaiming, " O my! O my! O my!"
I completely get it.
On that note, I'm going to curl up with a good book and read.