When I was a kid and I began to become more aware of the concept of death, there were particularly two times in life that dying seemed unbearable; one was Christmas Eve. I was a kid, after all, and the church of my childhood would offer prayers during mass for those in our parish who had recently passed on. This included Christmas Day mass and I would sit there just as sorrowful as could be that somebody died before they got a chance to play with their presents, and also as glad as could be that it wasn't me. (My gifts had long been unwrapped prior to services.)
The other bad time to die, in my estimation, was during the night after closing a book, especially one that I was good and hooked on and racing to find out the conclusion, and not being able to find out how it ended. This bothered me even worse than dying on Christmas Eve.
I was the youngest of three girls, and both of my sisters loved to read. I could not wait until I learned, too. Then I would be a 'big girl!' I remember starting first grade and the teacher gathered a small group of us in chairs placed in a circle and told us, "You are going to begin to learn how to go on adventures,"
I remember this. I remember my teacher telling us that. And I remember being so excited that I could hardly breathe! (I also remember this same teacher making me stand behind a door because I wouldn't stop talking, but that's a different story; and I forgave her because she taught me to read...)
Anyway, I was ready to begin my adventures. And I was a quick learner with a good memory, so it didn't take long for me to get into it. I have been 'getting into it' ever since.
I read all the time. I remember one summer after 2nd grade. we were told if we read something like 25 books during the summer we would win a prize. I read over 200, wrote down each of their titles, and bustled off to school to show my new teacher and get my just rewards. The teacher took one look at my list and told me I was fibbing. I was heartbroken. But all was rectified when my mother went to the school and assured the teacher I really did read them all. And I got my prize.
When I was in the 5th grade, I decided I was going to be the youngest psychologist on the world. I was going to straighten out all the troubled kids of all the most famous movie stars. I would become famous myself for straightening out these confused, spoiled rich kids. Only problem was, I didn't know a thing about psychology. So off I traipsed to the library and checked out several college level psychology books. I was determined to begin training for my illustrious career, raced home, ran into my bedroom and plopped on the bed. I opened the first book. (I believe it was on "Abnormal Psychology.") Whoops! Thee were some of the biggest words i had ever seen in my life. My spirits and dreams were wiped out. How can I treat these kids of the movie stars if I couldn't understand the books? It turned out okay tho, because within the next couple of years I decided I was going to be a nun instead. And I already knew how to pray.
By ninth grade, I fell in love with Shakespeare. I could not read enough of his works. only problem was, I had nobody to discuss his stuff with because kids my age did not have the same love for him that I did. In fact, they seemed to hate him.
As the years went by, I read more and more. I even took several psychology classes in college and understood perfectly what I read, and usually had a GPA 0f 4.0 (honest!) Now I work in a book store, know a few folks who love to read as much as I do, and all is well. And I even read all of War and Peace this summer, tho I do not think I understood it as well as I could have.
And now one of my biggest fears about death? It still holds close to what it did as a kid; that I will die before I read all I hope to read.