2 : something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast
To my knowledge, this is the longest I've ever gone between blog posts. There's good reason for that: I am grieving. My Aunt Harriet, who was one of my favorite people in all of the world, passed away last week. She was diagnosed with cancer in October and while we knew this day was coming, it is impossible to grieve beforehand. I think your heart and mind simply refuses to let go of hope until there is absolutely no choice. My aunt was a great encouragement and inspiration to me and I've been reeling a bit these last few days.
Prior to my aunt's death, I had planned a cookie decorating party for Monday of this week. I called a friend on Friday to discuss preparations for this party and she wisely advised me to cancel the party. "Yes, you'll be back in town by then," she said, "but how will you feel? I can't say for sure, but I think you'll be exhausted. Grieving is tiring business." I could not be more thankful for these words she offered with the utmost wisdom and kindness. Thanks to her, we spent Monday watching TV, reading books and catching up on laundry. I didn't cook a thing (unless you count frozen pizza for dinner as cooking - I don't.)
Tuesday I attempted to resume a somewhat normal schedule. Grocery shopping simply could not be put off one day more, but as I walked the aisles with my list in hand, I was struck by how very difficult this was. It was like I was walking through fog. The haze in my mind would not clear, so I was careful to buy the items on my list and not much more. Wednesday the girls and I were supposed to take Jason's car to the shop for an oil change and tune up. When I called to schedule it, they told me to expect an hour and a half wait. Hmmm. An hour and a half with three daughters in a Midas waiting room? That sounds difficult on a good day. And I have not been having good days lately.
I googled the location. The nearest library was a half-mile walk. I'd never been to this branch and the forecast called for rain showers, but this was the best plan I could manage, especially with my limited brainpower. I had the girls pack one bag each with library books to return, reminding them that they would need to carry their own books. Thankfully, the weather cooperated and there was no rain to be found. Our walk was a bit brisk, but we were in no hurry and we each had dressed for warmth.
The library branch, when we arrived, was the smallest I've ever seen. The librarian even remarked to me that it's Nashville's smallest branch library. I can believe it. I helped the girls locate new-to-them books from the library's limited selection and we settled down around the library's sole table. And we all read. And read. And read.
At one point, I put my book down and just looked around the table at them, one by one. 11 year old A has been an avid reader for more than half her life. B's love of reading kicked in around first grade. Extroverted K was the one I worried about. Would the world of books - with the different type of interaction they offered - be enough for her? Would she ever love books the way the rest of us do? The short answer appears to be Yes. Because of who I am, it feels like nothing less than a gift from God to have three daughters who willingly and gladly spent more than an hour huddled around a table the week of Christmas reading.
That tiny little library was an oasis for our family yesterday. Had I been forced to spend the two hours that it took to work on J's car in that tiny waiting room, we would all have left exhausted and frustrated. I would have had to answer K's innumerable questions about top stories on Fox News. I would have had to remind B again and again that she couldn't go outside - there was nowhere to play. And A would have been frustrated by her sister's inability to sit still around so much stimuli.
Wednesday didn't really go well because of me. All I did was look for the nearest library and hope for the best. But it felt like an early Christmas gift to end our morning by telling each other about our books as we walked back to Midas, instead of counting the second and minutes until we could get home.
In a month when I'm feeling like I'm lost in the desert, I'm thankful for the oasis we found yesterday.