Right now, I am surrounded by books, books that Meghan used to read and books that I used to read to Meghan. There's gotta be at least 100 of them scattered about my office floor, each of them holding a memory of a rainy afternoon or a memory of a good night tuck-in.
I'm keeping the really special ones, the very first book that Meghan read to us when she was two ("Go Dog Go"). I'm sure she was just reading it from memory, but David and I praised her over and over when she finished and told her how clever and smart she was (and the phrase, "Do you like my hat?" has been fully incorporated into our family vernacular).
I also found books that I had read as a child ("Misty of Chincoteague" and "The Cricket of Times Square" just to name a couple) and passed down to Meg. In fact, I wound up keeping a lot of books from her bookshelves and which are now piled neatly in my office closet to be read to future grandchildren.
Books have always been such good friends to myself and to Meghan and Joey. In fact, they loved books so much that the most dire punishment was to have reading privileges taken away. I only had to use that punishment twice, but whatever offense happened that landed that penalty, well, it was never repeated again.
Books were the kids' best friends, especially to Meghan. I have so many memories of her lost in a book, crosslegged in her room or the library or in a bookstore, other contenders scattered about her as she read the one in her hands. When she was really little, she would lean against me, limp as a rag doll, with her little blonde head nestled against my shoulder and drift off into a world that only she could see, built by the words that I was reading to her. When she was in third grade, we were reading "The Hobbit" and had gotten to a section where Bilbo and the elves were scurrying down a rocky trail alongside a cliff. I stopped and looked down at Meg and said how "cliff" was one of my favorite words and what was one of her favorite words? We had quite the discussion then about our favorite words, and thus the game "Favorite Words" was born ("cake" and "cupcake" are a couple more I like and "book" and "gentle" are two that she likes).
We read so many while she was growing up, each one special to us at the time. As I was sorting through her bookcase this afternoon and would come across a special favorite, I would squeal with delight, causing David and Meghan to chuckle from the living room where they were watching football together. Books have always been unspoken members of our family.
And I really am giving away more than I am keeping and that poses a whole different problem: how to lug 18 billion books from my car to the used bookstore to sell! But I'll worry about that later.
Just a little side note that doesn't have a thing to do with books: I'm working up the nerve to break out of my comfort zone and start spreading the word that I would love to start taking portraits of high school students and families and anyone else who may be interested. I believe I'm ready.