I recently visited Barnes and Noble. Since I got my driver's license (and yes, that was a long time ago) I have enjoyed little escapes there. It was often where I went on a Friday night. Yes, I am a little bit of a nerd, but I accept that about myself. Instead of a book store I like to think of it as the most fascinating place on earth. Something about wondering around a room full of ideas and information fills me with excitement. There the world fits into the palm of my hand cleverly disguised as a book.
Whomever invented Barnes and Noble is a genius. Mr. Barnes and Mr. Noble perhaps? Or Mrs? Hmmm, why did I just assume it was a man? I will have to look that up. Anyway...not just the book part is awesome. The whole concept is. Books, magazines, music and food all under the same roof. The idea of drinking a decaf grande nonfat two pump extra hot mocha without whip cream while perusing book heaven is simply...well genius.
And do you know what else they have there? The idea of all ideas my friends. A THOMAS THE TRAIN TABLE! This may seem inconsequential to those of you without children or those whose children are grown now, but for a mother with a three and a half year old little boy obsessed with Thomas the Train it is a godsend. I can actually sit and look through a book while my son plays with Thomas and all his train friends. It is a win win for both of us! My son actually asks to go to Barnes and Nobel just to play with the trains. I gladly indulge him.
On Saturday I was in desperate need of mental stimulation. After a week of cleaning my house and doing laundry I needed a break. My brain had turned to mush. I got Dustin dressed and off we went.
When Aubrey and Ellie died I stopped enjoying visits to Barnes and Nobel. Until just a few months ago I had stopped going all together. I couldn't walk through the doors without feelings of disappointment or bursting into tears. It was a hard place for me to be.
After the one year anniversary of their deaths I decided it was time to get back some of the things I lost when I lost my girls. Listening to music, attending church, weekly visits to the Farmer's Market, days at the beach, holding babies, and browsing Barnes and Nobel all made the list. I had reasons why each of these things were so hard for me, good reasons, but I was ready to face them all. Not all at once of course, but I was committed.
Learning to enjoy these things again meant getting to the root of why they became so difficult for me. Church is the most difficult hands down so I decided to tackle it last. The Farmer's Market was the easiest so I dealt with it first. Barnes and Nobel fell somewhere in the middle. I decided the best course of action would be to force myself to go, get a coffee and a book, and sit for a while and see what emotions stirred up.
This probably sounds silly to you. How could a book store be a difficult place to be after losing my daughters? Well, it may not be difficult for some, or maybe most, but it was for me. That place is my dream factory. The books I find there get into my soul. And not the words on paper, but the ideas they bring to life. When I browse a cook book I am not simply searching for recipes, I am planning dinner parties with friends and holiday meal traditions I hope to pass down to my children. I scan the shelves for books that may help me start my own business, improve my marriage, travel the world, grow in my faith, have a healthy pregnancy...help me become the woman I want to be in every way. Every book there is portal to one of my dreams.
When I found out that my second pregnancy was twins you better believe I went straight to Barnes and Nobel and pulled every book they had on twins. The joys of twins, the challenges of twins, things to know about twins, carrying, birthing, and nursing twins, naming twins...you name it, they had it. I remember sitting with my twenty books learning everything I could. I wanted to be informed, diligent and prepared. I was so excited.
When my girls died I felt so blindsided. None of the books prepared me for this! My heart was so broken I emotionally shelved all my hopes and dreams and anything symbolic of them. I could no longer sit in Barnes and Nobel and dream and plan. Instead I always found myself in the self help section picking up books on grief or in the Christian section drawn to books with titles like Disappointment with God and Where is God When it Hurts. If I even dared to pass the pregnancy and infant section (I avoided it like the plague) I walked away with Empty Cradle, Broken Heart. It wasn't exactly the good time I remembered.
Everything in my life was tainted by Aubrey and Ellie's deaths. Some things always would be, but some things I felt would only be for a season. As I heal, my sensitivities lessen. Forcing myself to return to the things I loved began to restore to me the small joys I treasure so much. As time goes by I continue to grow more and more comfortable with remnants of my former life.
My Saturday at Barnes and Nobel with Dustin was a small victory for me. I enjoyed my books and he enjoyed his trains. There are still twinges of sadness, but I think it has to do more with being alive than being there. No matter what I do, as long as my girls are not here with me, the twinges will remain. But I don't let them steal my joy. I left feeling liberated. Grief will throw its chains on you, but with God's help I am breaking them one by one.
One down...a lifetime to go.