Thursday, January 18, 2007

Passing On My Love

I judge books by their covers--in my mind, any book that's worth reading has a cover that's worth looking at. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but only a few. This book is not an exception. It was the cover that lured me--a beautiful, hazy illustration of a rabbit approaching a mysterious door. The title, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and the fact that it's a hardcover, something that seems extravagant and delicious in a book, clinched the deal. I bought it and brought it home.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo

I wrapped it and placed it on Caiden's bed, where it waited for him to come home from his surgery. I promised him that anytime he was awake during the first few days after surgery, I would read to him. This is a treat, now that two siblings have been added to the family. Before, when Caiden was the only one, we'd spend afternoons snuggled together in his reading chair, surrounded by piles of books. Now books are read in snippets, and library trips are seldom. But he and I love books, something that's evidently hereditary.

Tonight we finished the book. I turned the page to the last chapter, glanced at the pen and ink sketch, and It happened again. I teared up. Oh, no.

Turning the next page, I started reading, and my voice broke. When I finished the chapter, tears were streaming down my face, my throat scratchy. Caiden stared at me, aghast. He pushed a strand of hair out of my eyes, shook his head at me, and whispered, "My crazy mama."

"Do you think I'm silly for crying at a story, Caiden?"

Without hesitation: "Yeah. Really crazy." He whacked himself on his forehead and fell over, dying a mock death on his bed.

Even though he mocked me for my emotional attachment to a fictional china rabbit, I remember not too long ago when I first read "No, David!" to him, and he cried at the sight of David's ferocious teeth. And he still laughs a great big belly laugh when he sees David's naked backside running down the street. "COME BACK DAVID!" he shrieks with me as I read. I watch him sigh with relief when Wilbur is saved from certain death by the wits of his spider friend, and I already know how he's going to love James as he rolls through adventures with a bunch of bugs inside a giant peach.

And really, crying and laughing are closely related. So although he watches in horror as I weep at the conclusion of The Velveteen Rabbit (What is it with the rabbit stories?), I can see that books already speak to him. On those days when my mothering is filled with more sighs than the fruit of the Spirit, I remember that I don't have to be perfect, I just have to love him. Reading to him is one of the best ways I can do that. I hope when he's grown, he knows that, too, even if he doesn't shed a tear while reading to his own kids. Because, well, that would be really crazy.

*Pardon the blurry image--I have very limited computer skills!

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