Friday, August 18, 2017

The Story of A Baby and A Book and Maybe Magic.

I sort of joke about how books find you. Especially when you really, really need them. 

I imagine them like paged fairy godmothers, I guess. That's how some of them have definitely felt anyway. 

Sometimes just seeing the cover of a book can pull me into the time when I needed to read it. One of my favorites that I would put into that category is "The Graveyard Book", by Neil Gaiman. 

I was pregnant with my second child, the boy who would be my only son. 

And boy, was I scared. I loved and wanted him so much, but 
I'd only mostly known unkind men, predatory men, before meeting my husband. What I'd known out of trauma became fears for how my son would turn out. 

I was scared that despite having a wonderful father, that my son would be like the men who'd hurt me. **None of that is true, by the way. Evil doesn't pick a gender, it just exists as an open possibility for every person. It's not easy to see that if you've been overexposed to some of it, though, and it's something you have to actively work through. 

What helped me was the support of my husband and the wonderful men we do have in our lives, and a book. 

Yeah, a book.

A book I'd been given for my birthday by my father, after having read and loved "American Gods"- it was Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book". There are a lot of back and forths about this as far as loved or hated it, but with a premise like having a young boy raised from babyhood in a graveyard, you have to read this one just for the imaginative properties. 

And for the characters. Little Nobody Owens, called Bod, is the epitome of what I think parents dream for their sons. Sweet, and very, very brave, driven to help others, and always curious. 

The story itself is quite dark. Bod has to face things of pure horror-not in graveyard friends who care for him, but in the murderer who killed his family, in an unimaginable monster, and in the outside world beyond those tall protective gates that shielded him as an infant. 

Vampire guardians, (friendly) werewolves, tombstone goblins, and even a young witch; the book is an adventure, but almost a quiet, calming one, in which things happen that are supposed to. 

After reading of his adventures, I started looking forward to meeting my baby boy instead of being scared. I realized what I was frightened of was just a flat and wrong characterization. 

And when I met my son, all of the worries melted away. He was a breathtakingly sweet little boy, and he still is. He's courageous, he can be firey in the way I remember being as a child, and he is always, always kind. 

I am so grateful to be his mother and so proud of him. 

And every time I see "The Graveyard Book" I remember him as a tiny thing, all dark hair and giant dark blue eyes, in my arms.  

I wrote for him in my pregnancy journal the poem from the novel...I couldn't think of better words to describe our love or dreams for him the way that this did. 

Sleep my little babby-oh 
Sleep until you waken 

When you’re grown you’ll see the world 
If I’m not mistaken. 

Kiss a lover, 
Dance a measure, 

Find your name 
and buried treasure… 

Face your life 
Its pain, its pleasures 

Leave no path untaken 

--Lyrics by from Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book"

It might be a coincidence that his favorite bedtime story for several years was the poetic "Instructions", but that too is a fantastic story for children about looking for the wonder in things. 

The number of times a book has helped me through my life is uncountable I think. But, when it happens to you, and as readers, it happens to us all, it makes you wonder about the magic of the written word. 

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