“Some people won’t dog-ear the pages. Others won’t place the book facedown, pages splayed. Some won’t dare make a mark in the margin. Get over it. Books exist to impart their worlds to you, not to be beautiful objects to save for some other day. We implore you to fold, crack, and scribble on your books whenever the desire takes you. Underline the good bits, exclaim “YES!” and “NO!” in the margins. Invite others to inscribe and date the frontispiece. Draw pictures, jot down phone numbers and Web addresses, make journal entries, draft letters to friends or world leaders. Scribble down ideas for a novel of your own, sketch bridges you want to build, dresses you want to design. Stick postcards and pressed flowers between the pages.

When next you open the book, you’ll be able to find the bits that made you think, laugh, and cry the first time around. And you’ll remember that you picked up that coffee stain in the cafe where you also picked up that handsome waiter. Favorite books should be naked, faded, torn, their pages spilling out. Love them like a friend, or at least a favorite toy. Let them wrinkle and age along with you.” 

Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin

Yesterday my friend Mary Beth told me she felt books found you.

I completely agree.

My favorite books look pretty battered. I love them and make every page mine. I don’t dog ear books, though. For some reason that’s not okay–BUT I do love to find books that other people have dog eared. Those pages I look at closely. What had someone else found so note-worthy?

Occasionally, our local library has books for sale. That type of sale has my attention immediately.

My first purchase was a little book by Ted Menten called, Gentle Closings, How to Say Good-bye to Someone You Love.

Today as I walked into my office that little book caught my eye.

Yes, I need to be reading about my healthcare but I noticed I’d flagged a few pages. I had to see what I found.

It was even more noteworthy today.

   “…In time I became a storyteller. Then I became involved in a process called closing, which is the way the living and the dying say “good-bye” and “I love you.”

   All of this just happened. I am not a doctor. I am not a psychoanalyst. I have no degrees on my office wall. I haven’t even got an office. I am simply a storyteller who goes where the stories need to be told, and where I can learn new stories. My training was all on the job.

   The children, and later their parents, taught me everything I know. The nurses and the doctors shared their expertise with me as well. Everything I experienced made me re-examine everything I had ever thought or believed. 

   Since we are traveling together, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with you. You don’t have to believe what I believe, or question what I question, or even come to any of the same conclusions. We’ll just walk together and talk things over. 

   I believe that there is a supreme being, a creator, because when I look around at the wonder and beauty of life, I can find no other reasonable explanation. 

   I like the idea of prayer. I think it is more sane to talk to someone else than it is to talk to yourself. (At first I had a problem with unanswered prayer until little Susan, age seven, explained to me: “That’s simple. God’s answer was no.”)

   I like ghosts and reincarnation, too. A mystic once described my grandmother as an aura that followed me and protected me. That seems right enough; it’s what she did before she died. I support recycling, so I suppose it is only natural to accept reincarnation. I might like to come back as something really special and magical like a butterfly or a teddy bear. 

   Heaven is a good idea, too. I like reunions; I like all that hugging and kissing and tears of joy when old friends get back together. 

   I believe that loves gives the best return on investment. 

   I believe that truth is like a straight line–the shortest distance between two points. 

   I believe in second chances, and third chances, and fourth chances. 

   I believe that listening is essential to loving.  

   I believe in grief and sorrow and tears flowing like Niagara Falls. Tears mean something. They mean we’re alive and feeling. 

   I believe that death is a friend, a fabulous dancer who will twirl me away in my last waltz. 

   I believe in taking the time to say good-bye and not putting it off until another day. Because more than anything, 

   I believe in love.    

~Ted Menten~

I am thankful this book reached out to me today.

It is exactly what I needed.

I am…

B…simply being…




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