Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Monster at the End of This Book

On October 20, 2010, after a painful fight with liver cancer, my Michael passed away. I was in the hospital room alone with him for two hours before he died. One of the many beautiful things about my relationship with Michael was that we told each other how we felt and never held anything back, so when it came time to say our final goodbyes, there was nothing left unsaid. He knew how much I loved him -- how much I'll always love him -- and that he was the best thing that had ever happened to me. He knew I thought he was handsome and funny and brilliant and courageous and tender and somewhat over-protective. By that point he could no longer speak, so he couldn't correct me as he had so many times before: "Not OVER-protective, Ruby. Just the RIGHT amount of protective." All of these things had been said many times before. So I sat with him, held his hand, and sang to him.

On October 22, 2011, I was on my way to a pub crawl with my cousins when I got a phone call from my mom. My stepmother had just called her and told her that my dad had passed away two days before. Yes, on the one-year anniversary of Michael's death, I lost my father. My dad and I had had a volatile relationship for most of my life -- thick as thieves for a year or two, then not speaking for a year or two. We had been estranged for about a year and a half when he died. I never got to say goodbye to him.

The date hovers in my subconscious like a specter. I've been dreading October 20 since late last month. I've been trying to focus on other things. The opera season has started. I'm crocheting a lot again. I'm taking voice lessons. My band has scheduled our first rehearsal of the season. The dreamy gallery owner is a marvelous distraction. And yet October 20 looms. Everyone important in my life knows that I'm going to need a lot of special treatment on October 20. My bosses at the opera have made sure that I'm not in the same dressing room I was assigned to for the past two years on October 20, because I've gotten a tiny bit superstitious about that room.

As I was writing about the impending anniversary of my double-impacted loss, my favorite childhood book came to mind. The Monster at the End of This Book has always held a special spot in my heart, and five years ago when I found out that Michael was unfamiliar with this book, I went out and got him a copy. It sits on my bookshelf by my bed today. The premise of this masterpiece is that Lovable, Furry Grover has heard a rumor that there is a monster at the end of the book. He's encouraging -- nay, imploring -- the reader to not turn the pages of the book so we don't get closer to the end, because we're safe where we are, and damn it, there's a freakin' MONSTER at the end of this book!! Grover ties the pages together with rope, hammers pages together, even constructs a brick wall trying to prevent the reader from turning pages to bring us dangerously closer to the end, where the monster is. But the reader keeps turning the pages -- even the page with the brick wall.

So we get to the page before the end of the book. Grover is scared. He IMPLORES us not to turn the page; to stay where it's relatively safe. To stay on October 19th, as it were.

But time marches on. We turn the page, no matter how scary that might seem. Sometimes the scary page is a calendar page. And do you know what's at the end of the book?

It's just Grover. Nothing to be afraid of! Just Grover!

I am a much stronger woman than I was two years ago. And I have stopped fearing that God has given me all of this strength to deal with bigger and bigger crises in my life. I've realized this strength is to be strong for others in their times of trials. I have experienced great love and great loss, and both of these things have taught me how to love capaciously and not so much fear the letting-go part.

And that's all the news for now. Not all of my blog entries need to be about yarn, you know! Until Friday, peace, love and yarn!!


  1. I love this post, DM. You're just the inspiration I need today, and you'll be in my thoughts!

    1. Thanks, Laura! I hope everything is good with you!

  2. Oh, I'm all chokey-uppy now!! Such a beautiful entry. And I had that book too!! Loved Grover!

    (Oh, and I think we'll have to move the rehearsal to NEXT Wednesday night, because I have the trainer tomorrow and I won't get done until close to 9:00. We could do a "sing-through" rehearsal, I suppose.)

  3. Beautiful post. Hope the 20th is a good day full of "capacious love."

  4. I am having a rough time right now, but this post is a good reminder that dreading the inevitable doesn't help. Thank you for reminding me about this book and its relevance.

  5. Dear Anonymous Friend,

    I'm glad that you found some hope in my blog. I'll be praying that you get through this rough patch. Remember: very little is inevitable. Death and taxes. Everything else is changeable. William James said, "If you can change your mind, you can change your life."

  6. thanks for this DM, and thanks so much for being strong for me and reminding me that at the end i will be ok.