The Timing of Books

When I’m desperate for something to read I wander over to the neighbor’s little library. The books I find in there aren’t necessarily ones I would pick up in a regular library where choices are many. But when you’re needing a book and the selection is few, you end up pushed into worlds you might not pick to read.


Little community; little library

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the book you find in your hand mirrors something going on in your life? I’m not sure if you are drawn to the book because of events, or if the events make you see things differently so that you pick up something you might not normally.

Both of those things – the neighborhood library, and recent events, have landed a tiny book in my lap.

I posted recently about needing a sister day, and this past week I was gifted with sister days. They were emotional days that make your soul ache and your heart weep even when you struggle to be strong and say the things you need to say.

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Sister words

Words like ‘you’ve fought this battle for years’ and ‘we understand you’re tired’ and ‘we respect your choice to go’ and ‘don’t stay because of us’.

When the reality is inside you’re grasping at cloth while your brain screams ‘don’t you dare leave us!!!’

And then here comes this little book.


The bookmark is a pricking, a pattern, for a bookmark made from bobbin lace. And in the cup are wooden bobbins from a sister.


I’d never heard of the author, let alone the book. But it’s a small book to hold in your hand, with rough-cut edges and a beautiful cover. So I brought it home from the neighborhood collection, thinking it would be a distraction, a non-fiction book on how snails operate. Interesting, maybe boring, but words.


The author has a mysterious debilitating disease. And into her life comes a snail, with a pot of wild violets. And one night, she can hear the snail munching.

What comes from that moment is a lesson in slowing down, breathing, changing perspectives, adjusting how we look at life.

At the things we have to let go.

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The book reads like a meditation, with the interesting life of a snail thrown in. Like the fact that they have teeth and you can hear them chewing when the world around you is quiet and still enough.

There’s more to this book than just that, but for now, I want this snail to remind me to be quiet and still enough that I can hear time slowing for one sister. I want to feel how an ending for us is a beginning for her, a birth of a different sort, into the world she has faith in.

And during this time left, no matter how long it is, I hope time slows for my sister so that she can feel our heartbeats, feel our love, find her peace, and find the quiet so she can hear what she needs to now.


6 thoughts on “The Timing of Books

  1. I started my Thanksgiving by reading this post and experienced the tears that are always present though generally well hidden.
    Your sister has been the source of many life lessons and in this time she continues to teach.
    We should all slow ourselves, thanks for the reminder


    • And I think you would find that little book interesting. I now want to go out and look at snails. If you’d like to read it, let me know. And yes, we do need to slow down.


  2. This is such a beautiful share. My godmother is going through now what your sister seems to be going through: she’s ready to move on, finish with this life, because of illness aspects of her old age. And while everyone is struggling to be supportive, her children are going through a meat grinder of emotions. I’m going to look for this book to give them.


    • I’m not sure the book will be a lot of help; maybe flip through it first. You can probably find it at your library. The author is dealing with long-term disease and that is definitely a big part of the book. The interactions with the snail show her how her life has slowed, centered, etc. and then it gives her a focus to spend time with snails so there is a lot of fascinating information on snails, as she discovers more. So it’s an odd mix of narrative around changing lives and non-fiction on snails. I wouldn’t say it’s a book solely on dealing with the ending of one’s life so much as maybe a small meditation on how to live without a ‘normal’ life. It was the perfect book for me at this point, but I don’t know that it would work that way for everyone. Take a look at it and see what you think. One thing I recently learned, is this process is common with hospice and the ending of lives. One person called it ‘sundowning’ where the loved one goes to the edge, steps back, returns, and those of us around them have to deal with all the emotions attached to letting go, then still having them with us, then letting go again. It certainly drags the emotional turmoil out, and then some have a lot of guilt over feeling like they ‘just want it over with’, and what the reality of that is. Hard all the way around. Good luck to you and your godmother’s family during this time.


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