I just finished reading Tell the Wolves I’m Home. It’s our book club selection right now.
This book broke me.
I cried all the way through the last 50 pages. Trying my best to not have heaving sobs given a sleeping (sick) child across the hallway.
I believe we each have our Causes. The organization you always send money, spend your time, will talk about with a stranger. HIV/AIDS awareness is one of mine that started back in high school. I think that is part of what hit me so hard in this book. It’s set in the winter/early Spring of 1987 and the main character is 14. (I was a sophomore in 1987, and would have been 16).
I can’t tell you why it hits me so hard. It just does.
Shortly after I moved out here, I joined the Chicken Soup Brigade. I volunteered in the warehouse to inventory food and get ready for deliveries. I also delivered meals to people with HIV/AIDS in the Seattle area. I loved that work. It was Friday afternoons and I would race out of the office at 3:30 every week to get on my way. There was one client in particular that I loved visiting. I would always go to his house last even though it wasn’t the most convenient delivery route. We would always have witty banter at the door, as I brought the bags into the kitchen. We would both say good-bye laughing, sometimes crying from laughter. (Usually people would just take the bags, say thanks, and go back in their homes) As he got sicker and wasn’t able to meet me at the door any longer, his partner would answer and I could only yell through the apartment to say Hi and go on my way. And then there was finally the week he wasn’t on my route any longer. I could only guess he passed and they weren’t accepting support any longer. It was a difficult day. I stopped doing the home deliveries shortly after that.
Back to this book – it is described as a coming of age story for the main character June, after losing her uncle, (as the book jacket describes it), “a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.”
It’s the compassion and friendship that broke me. Thinking back to how people reacted in the 80’s (and as the author illustrates in the story) how lonely it must have been for some, that didn’t have anybody. That even just one person can make a difference.
I think many of us lose sight of that a lot in our busy lives filled with work and internets, Facebook and family schedules….I sure fucking do!
This passage from the book is my absolute favorite, I even (gasp) dog-eared the page so I would have it marked forever:
Don’t you know? That’s the secret. If you always make sure you’re exactly the person you hoped to be, if you always make sure you know only the very best people, then you won’t care if you die tomorrow.
That doesn’t make any sense. If you were so happy, then you’d want to stay alive, wouldn’t you? You’d want to be alive forever, so you could keep being happy…
No, no. It’s the most unhappy people that who want to stay alive, because they think they haven’t done everything they want to do. They think they haven’t had enough time. They feel like they’ve been short changed.
Great reminder that it’s about creating the life I want surrounded by the people I choose and having a fabulous time in the process. Feeling pretty good about where I’m at with that too…