Friday, September 07, 2007

With Respect and Gratitude

My favorite Children's author, the great Madeleine L'Engle, has passed away. She was 88 years old.

I read A Wrinkle in Time so often, I could practically recite it from beginning to end. I read A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet almost as many times. The more complex and heavy her stories became, the more engrossed I was.

A Ring of Endless Light was a formative story in my young life. It "went there," and I stayed, re-reading the last part of the book over and over, not wanting to lose the intensity of feeling that blossomed inside my young body, feelings of love, of loss, of transformation into something more than an ordinary human child. It may have been the first recognition that I, and therefore all of us, are born of something larger than ourselves, something deeper and more mysterious than flesh. I felt connections inside me, to the characters, to the writer, and to everyone who may have lived through such frightening, sobering events. I recognized the world, and I myself felt recognized as well.

Isn't that all we really want out of life? To be recognized? To be known? To know that, when we die, when we simply aren't there anymore, that someone will notice?

Thank you Madeleine, for making me feel, for teaching me how to feel, for showing me where to look when I couldn't feel. Thank you for showing me that the world was bigger than my schoolyard full of bullies, my neighborhood full of strangers, my little house full of shouting, my dark bedroom painted in colors someone else chose.

Thank you for showing me that the world does care about smart little girls who seem to have no friends, that are a burden to their teachers and misunderstood by almost everyone else, that it is possible for girls like Meg and me to fall in love, have friends, be happy.

Thank you for inspiring me to write. Thank you for letting me know that, if all I have to write about is sad things, that people might still want to read it. Thank you for being an example to me. Thank you for Meg, and Vicky, and Charles Wallace, and gangly, red-haired Calvin O'Keefe, and the unicorns and the living stars, and for teaching us all to look inside ourselves for the answers to life's most important questions.

Rest in peace. You will never be forgotten.