12 June 2010

Goodwill

Curious Girl is reading Warriors: Into the Wild, the first book in a series set in a kitty universe where clans of cats negotiate territory, myths and history, and build social alliances. As a series, it seems not so bad, although my favorite part about the book is that CG is drawn to it, although it's a little over her head for an independent read. (She's a fluent reader, but she doesn't like reading books with dense text. I use a bookmark to block off the lines below the one we're reading if she's reading along with me, but she doesn't have the stamina to read the book independently.) So I've been reading it to her at bedtime. She closes her eyes, and tells me that she's imagining the pictures she wishes were in the book. And amazingly, sweetly, wonderfully, she relaxes herself, and she nods off as I read.

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?

9 comments:

Joell said...

I'm happy to be hearing about your family's life again! Jaden LOVES the Warrior books, and has been reading them for a while now. He doesn't seem very attached to the idea of reading them in order--at one point he said he'd read all of them, and I asked if he'd really read all of all the books, and he said no, he'd read all of the first one, and parts of all the rest. And today he finished the last one and announced that now he's read all of them except #4. I wonder if he's doing it to manage his fear about scary or stressful stuff that might be happening.

Tall Kate said...

Oh, Susan, this is lovely. "Stones of goodwill" will stay with me awhile.

And we're fans of the Warrior Cats books here, too.

Magpie said...

"stones of goodwill" is indeed a wonderful evocative phrase.

skoplusone said...

I love it when you post!

susan said...

Joell! so happy to see you here (and kate, sko, and magpie too, of course).

CG got a Warriors manga book. I've just discovered (via Wikipedia, so it must be true....) that Erin Hunter is a pseudonym and that several people do the writing, with plot ideas from the series' editor. What a way to produce texts. (I know other series have this, too--I adored all those Nancy Drew novels back in the day. )

Arwen said...

Oh, I love that phrase. One of my favorite parts of parenting and care taking children is hearing this unexpected expression of their thoughts.

However, reading about the loss of 3 teenaged kids made my heart squeeze and my eyes well. I suddenly understood why 'warding the evil eye' is so attractive - wanting something to forswear such possibilities.

kathy a. said...

"stones of goodwill" -- how lovely!

江婷 said...

人不能像動物一樣活著,而應該追求知識和美德.................................................................

AlphonseH_Va哲維 said...

成熟,就是有能力適應生活中的模糊。.................................................................