The Big Wave
There's this book I picked up in Fayetteville, West Virginia in a diner that had been built in side an old church, that was also a plastic mug souvenir shop and a used book store. It's called "The Big Wave" by Pearl S. Buck. I read the opening. It was the author humbly introducing her book, offering it as a space to help kids understand and cope with death and great loss. I picked it up, along with a 1950s antiquing guide book, thinking that both could very well, at some point, become useful. It's been the trunk of my car for three years. I pulled it out when Liz died. I read it on days when I fall back in the middle. Like the center of a hammock, like a rain drop just before it breaks with fingers wide spread, reaching...: '"To live in the midst of danger is to know how good life is," his father replied. "But if we are lost in the danger?" Kino asked anxiously.
"To live in the presence of death makes us brave and strong," Kinos father replied. "That is why our people never fear death. We see it too often and we do not fear it. To die a little later or a little sooner does not matter. But to live bravely, to love life, to see how beautiful the trees are and the mountains, yes, and even the sea, to enjoy work because it produces food for life--In these things we Japanese are a fortunate people. We love life because we live in danger. We do not fear death because we understand that life and death are necessary to each other."
"What is death?" Kino asked.
"Death is the great gateway," Kino's father said. His face was not at all sad. Instead, it was quiet and happy.'... I can only read it in waves, the same way I read all books, I have to sit with the characters. Try to study them while we both awkwardly break conversation to sip our coffee. The reflect:when you decide what will be retold, and what you will keep for your story. The best stories are the ones no one tells. I think of every memory I have of Liz, and I quietly hang in the middle.