You never know from whence old loves bound

It’s my place of comfort. And they’re my friends.

It’s: the library. And they’re: books.

The day’s perfect moment occurs in the local library, my place of worship.

I’ve scoured the shelves for a story I’ve been yearning to reread. One of my childhood whose character is my first “bookly” love, twin flame, companion and girlfriend: Pippi Longstocking.

None’s to be found.

I’ve checked the library’s computer. There are copies but it’ll take several days for transfers from other branches.

I “compromise” with another book altogether.

Still. Like trying to satisfy a craving for ice cream with frozen yogurt. Doesn’t work. You may TRICK yourself into believing otherwise.

But the heart wants what it wants. Needs what it needs.

I need Pippi for a reason. The rest of the story in a moment.

“Compromise” book in hand, I keep searching for Pippi — just in case it got misshelved.

“Can I help you find something?” A lady librarian in the young reader’s section queries.

“I can’t believe you don’t have any copies of Pippi Longstocking!” I respond with unedited incredulousness.

She checks. Confirms.

Then coincidences roll in.

Paraphrasing:

“Funny you mention it,” she says kindly.

“We just checked out our one copy today. We have three other copies that just today we removed from circulation. They’re to be replaced due to wear. The spines are cracking for their popularity.”

“How long will that take?”

“A few weeks.”

“Oh no, that won’t do.”

She steps to the rolling cart full of books behind the desk. Pulls forth a hardcover — love me some hardcovers! — edition of Pippi Longstocking — one with the cracking spine that’s earmarked for replacement

Instructs her coworker to alter its status “available for checkout” in the computer. And she hands me the book.

Such joy! I behold in my hands the golden scepter. I’m touched. Moved. Happy. Hugged.

Just then, I confide a secret to the kind lady librarian. Which is the rest of the story for you readers.

“I’ve just lost my mother.”

Grief is its own force. The most discombobulating disruptive disorienting power that life will give you. Give any human being.

It’s the other side of life. How could it be anything less?

“So,” I share with the librarian, “in my grief, I’ve rediscovered my love of the library and of books. Specifically ones I read in childhood.

{waves hello to the beloved Pippi Longstocking}

“They are my comfort.”

My soul – and sole – comfort.

The kind lady librarian listens. Doesn’t really grasp about grief, its power, the things it makes you need and not need, want and not want. The way grief gives the simplest things great meaning and makes intolerable the noise, the clutter, the stupidities of people and life.

Her time will come. As will yours if it hasn’t already. The loss of one parent, then the second, those losses change you in ways you can’t possibly imagine or predict or prepare for. No matter what your mind tells you.

“I’ll take great care of the book.” I assure the librarian, holding it tenderly as if it were a little animal, a kitten. She knows; she can see.

I thank her profusely for the book and we part ways for today.

The day’s perfect moment, you see, is about more than perfection. It’s about synchronicity.

PippiAs well as the enthusiastic and eccentric Pippi, who bounds now into my life as she did way back then, effervescently, eternally.

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