I remember an assessment CG took around 18 months at the developmental pediatrician's. One of the questions on the parent part of the assessment was whether she relaxed into a parent when a bedtime book came out. Relaxed into a parent? Not so much. Reading has always been an aerobic experience for her. There was the year, for instance, when The Snowy Day was in regular reading rotation, no matter what the season or temperature, and CG would jump out of bed and act out the story as I read. She likes talking to her stuffed animals about what she reads. She likes putting her hand on the pages and feeling the book as she reads. She likes petting the cat as she reads. Relaxing? Not so much. That comes later, with the songs and the snuggles.
Except for this past week, as we've started this book. She does remember the plot--she can talk about the universe of the book and she seems to remember the plot about as well as she does the plot of anything we've read before. But something about this book and our reading routines lets her drift herself into sleep.
Towards the beginning of the book, there's a report of a battle with another clan, and the beloved Thunder Clan deputy is killed. His body is brought back to the clan, and CG was full of questions about how the cats would react. What would they do? Could the dead cat hear them? Would there be a coffin? Would they bury him? We talked about what might happen--but then, as the book is silent on some parts of the evening in question, there was still room for speculation. "They'll put his name on a stone with his dates," she said. I didn't think so, I said, as the cats don't seem to ever use stones in this book. "But humans do," CG said. "Humans do, with the stones of goodwill."
Stones of goodwill. What a phrase. CG has experienced loss, but hasn't had much contact with cemeteries. I didn't even know she knew the word goodwill, and I don't know where she gets her cemetery notions from. But I love the idea of stones of goodwill, stones beaming goodwill into the world for people who are mourning.
I've read Katie Granju's blog, Mamapundit, on and off for a while. The past few months she has been very honestly writing about the death of her 18 year old son Henry, his drug addiction, and the assault and overdose that precipitated the medical crisis that killed him. Today, I mailed off a donation to the memorial scholarship the family has established to help families pay for the costs of addiction treatment for their children.
Two of my college friends have lost teenaged children in the past year. I didn't know either child, but their names and the stories I've heard haunt me, as does Henry. As I walked downtown today, I looked around at what some of the older teens or young adults were doing, and thoughts flitted through my head--that child will never get to do that. My friend will never get to see her kid climbing a rock again. Katie Granju will never be walking through a bookstore to redeem a gift certificate with Henry. It's so sad.
But as I saw the rocks downtown (yes, our downtown has rocks. Doesn't yours?), CG's stones of goodwill came to mind, too. Katie Granju's grief is raw, and I don't know what, besides time, will soften its edges as she incorporates her unimaginable loss into everyday life. But if the stones of the earth could radiate goodwill for the mourners, what kind of world would we have?