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A Long December

December 11, 2014

According to my kindle, I am only 11% of the way through this book when I head to the bookstore, purchase two hardbacks and have them giftwrapped. 


This story, these words, have caused me to do some uncharacteristic things.  I’m not a big fiction reader, and the title clearly states: A Novel.  I tend to order online, rather than head to the local bookstore.  Raleigh folks, Quail Ridge Books is a treasure. I usually devour written words (which is not the ideal way to properly digest words and story.)  I am reading a few short chapters at a time.  Slowly, savoring. And I certainly do not purchase a book for a gift where I have no idea the ending.  There is the possibility that the ending might break me, and those I love.


This photo was taken by my stealth sister-in-law, seven cusp-of-Decembers ago.   Our sober expressions seem to know something we didn’t at the time –  tempests were brewing, and not too far offshore. 

Our tempests arrived like a procession of  assorted houseguests.  Long-staying houseguests. 

A large fraternity and sorority came, those who are dealing/or have dealt with aging parents.  There’s lots of company in that one. But it’s still hard.  And lonely.

A club came, those who deal with a child in the autoimmune community.  There are concerns.  And hope.

A white-water rafting group showed up, named Paddle the Waters That Are Highest at the Moment. It’s a lifestyle group.  Good grief.

And then, there were some secret societies.   There are some pains that are private.  I have learned that you never know what people you encounter may be dealing with.  Truly. You usually never know.

For the record, I have been a loath hostess.  It’s been a long December.  (And yes, I hear Counting Crows crooning)


Ah, but back to the book.  There is a passage where blind Marie-Laure is exploring a shell in the murex family with her hands. (chapter 11)  What she feels with her hands allows me to see that shell as I have never seen a shell before.  After descriptive words like hollow spines and ridged whorls, Anthony Doerr’s words slay me: it’s a kingdom

Oh my stars.  Oh my bursting stars.  All the light we cannot seeAll the light we do not see.

020   028

My very own murex

This shell was found on the same beach where my mother used to take me as a young girl.  The same beach where we’ve taken our boys and girl.  The same beach where my sister-in-law snuck a photo of us.  I have always liked this shell, kept it in a special place.  But I see it now.  It is a kingdom.  Kingdoms have been in my hands, on my shelvesI just didn’t know it.

The ending might break me, and those I loveThere. There it is.  That is what has hung over me for a seven-year season. That is what has lengthened December. 

A long December.  All the light we cannot and do not see.  Kingdom come.  Christmas.

With hopes for the grace to read (live) on, slowly, not missing a word,


2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 13, 2014 3:41 am

    Dearest June-Always a delight to hear anything at all from you. Thanks for gracing us all with your poetic words and for your recommendation. All the best to you and your dear family. Warmly, Mitzi

    • December 14, 2014 12:24 pm

      And sweet Mitzi…thank you for gracing anyone who knows you, with YOU. You are a gift. May you and yours have a blessed holiday season.


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