I'm reading Anna Quindlen's newest book, Every Last One, and I find her books similar to Jodi Picoult's as they either grab me instantly and I'm absorbed, or they don't and I limp all the way to the finish. This one got me hooked on the first page, and hasn't let up.
Last night I went to bed early, eager to read, and by page 157 I was lulled into a sort of calm complacency by the peaceful story about a normal family raising teenagers. Suddenly, a horrifying event occurs and my blood literally ran cold. I cannot remember the last time that has happened to me when reading. Watching a movie, sure, because I am a much more visual person, but I don't read a lot of crime novels, so this hit me over the head with the force of a 2x4.
It's a testament to the power of words. It reminds me of the Clint Eastwood film Million Dollar Baby, where the pace is slow and sleepy for most of the story, and then suddenly you are thrown under a bus and mangled emotionally by something awful that you didn't see coming (Gran Torino had a similar effect on me). Quindlen has done that in her newest novel, and I was astonished by how skillfully she had me fooled.
I was almost ready to close the book and fall asleep when I hit this fateful page, and then of course I was so disturbed that I couldn't sleep. I began thinking about all of the things we ignore on a daily basis: the hurting people who are at risk to themselves or others, the many blessings in our lives, and the ability to notice what is going on under the surface for people.
I have had many years of counseling to work out childhood fears and issues that I carried with me into adulthood. So much of what we do is informed by our past in ways that we aren't consciously aware of. I love counseling because it brings the unconscious to the forefront of our minds and emotions, allowing us to make rational decisions about how to move on and improve our lives.
I don't want to be so busy in my life that I don't notice what is going on around me. As parents we must be vigilant about our children, paying attention to their patterns and moods so that when they change we can discuss it with them and find out what is really going on. I want to notice when my friends and family members are withdrawn and struggling, so that they know they aren't alone in what they are facing. If we are all just a little more aware of each other, we can do so much good in the lives of those we love.
Of course, with all of this lofty musing, William was up at 5:30 am for the third day this week, and there was a lot of shouting (me) and crying (him) as I forced him back into bed. It seems most of life is one step forward and two steps back, but at least we are in motion. All we can do is our best to improve, moment by moment and day by day, and be as kind as we can possibly be to each other, with a lot of grace and mercy for the times we fail.