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  • We are packing up our house now. I have to allow myself extra packing time when it comes to packing up the books. Books that span decades, genres, and sizes require an extra allowance of time and methodology in packing just right, just so.

    Memories flood. Time has poured through the cupped basin of my hands. I pick up one book, then another, off the shelf to file neatly into a cardboard box. Time spent with my children curled on couches, beds, under bedspread tents in the living room reading and rereading these books. Where has this time collected? I want it back.

    My hand traces through pages and over years and I remember Winnie the Pooh was read every day before nap time. And just about the time Pooh's bottom was extracted from the tree, my daughter would doze off for her nap. Or poor Mr. McGregor, I really feel your pain. And Wilbur, Charlotte. Oh dear. Can we make it through the last chapter without looking like blubbering fools?

    I get a little lost in the shelves, the mounds of books that have accumulated in our library. I can't bear to part with any of them. Books have lives of their own, you know, so how could I ever send them somewhere else to live?

    I came across "Goodnight Moon" while packing up. My children are older now so this one has been tucked back and left unread for quite a while. Just such a curious book, really, but the copy that we have, the one that has endured is not only curious, but well loved in the way only a small child can love a book. The spine is torn in places, the top edges of the thick cardboard pages are crumbling from too much chewing by teething toddlers. The back page is ripped. One daughter even went back and circled the mysterious roving mouse that appears in almost every page, completely ruining the surprise for the next sibling in line.

    I sat on the floor and cried after rereading "Goodnight Moon" when I was supposed to be packing. After years of holding a child on my lap and reading the tale, I noticed things I didn't notice when I first began reading the story to my first child over a decade ago. Things like the unusual floating red balloon that only appears on the first and last pages. Or how the bunny mama's knitting progresses, the time on the clock advances, and the full moon rises in the window of what must be a cold, winter's evening. Or how the kittens ignore the mouse entirely and the number of books on the bookshelf changes. Or the light inside the dollhouse grows brighter and brighter until the end of the story when the bunny boy's bedroom is almost completely dark. Or was the light always that bright? I just didn't see the brightness of the light until the room grew dark all around.

    I came full circle today after my weepy moment. I thought back to earlier in the morning when I went to wake my oldest, still-sleeping teenage daughter in her room. Her bedroom, the room in our house that is painted a shocking teal with posters tacked on the walls along with notes from friends, including boys, taped to her desk. On her nightstand I noticed my copy of "Jane Eyre".

    Pausing beside my daughter's polka dot bedspread covering her body that now spans the entire length of the bed, I looked at this sleeping young woman and thought "To be young". Just on the cusp of life, with a book like that just waiting for you, knowing you will be forever changed by the story. I trust Ms. Bronte to take my daughter by the hand and show her the marrow of true words on which to teethe womanhood. Just yesterday this once little girl lept off the perch of my lap and has landed in a thousand new worlds of words with a thousand more yet to be.
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