Last Friday, at the library, I picked a book off the shelf. In the moment what caught my eye was the size of the book - oddly small, cute. The next lure was the color - beautifully blue - and the title: Wave. I ran my hands over the cover, habit. Then I opened the pretty little book to find out what it was about. Instantly my chest went tight and my breath felt stuck in my throat. I flipped the book over and read the reviews, scanning reviewer's names, habit. My boys were an aisle away, ooohing and ahhhing over the latest Marvel dvd, surely.
From the inside front jacket: On the morning of December 26, 2004, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived. In this brave and searingly frank memoir, she describes those first horrifying moments and her long journey since...
See. How do you read on? Especially when you are a mother of two young sons?
For some crazy reason, I slipped the book in my take-home bag, even though I thought it was very unlikely that I would actually read it. I even grabbed a back up book to start that night after I'd start Wave and realize how right I was, how I would not be able to move through the story.
But that's not what happened.
I started it that night after the boys went to bed. By the third chapter I was crying so hard that I couldn't see the words, but by now there was no turning back - I needed to read Sonali Deraniyagala's words. I needed to read every single one of them to find out how she is; I needed to know how one goes on after such excruciating loss. I stayed up through the middle of the night reading. At times I had to get out of bed and go see my boys. I had to touch a cheek, smooth back a little bit of silky hair. I had to catch my breath. I ached for this woman so badly that I felt something primal deep inside. I wanted to scream out-loud for as long as I could and as loudly as I could for her. I was afraid of her, and for her. I felt something I can only describe as love for her. And I fell in love with her boys, too.
This review by author Will Schwalbe is what ultimately made me toss Wave in my bag. And now that I've read it, I believe his words to be spot on, particularly his last sentence.
"Out of unimaginable loss comes an unimaginably powerful book. Wave is unflinching as it charts the depths of grief, but it is also, miraculously, a beautifully detailed meditation on the essence of happiness. I came away from this stunning book with a new appreciation of life's daily gifts. I urge you to read Wave. You will not be the same person after you've finished."
Yesterday I was in the house by myself. For some reason I was sitting on the couch doing nothing in complete silence. (rare, rare, rare.) I looked around and saw Theo's socks inside out and balled up in the coloring book basket. I saw Sully's hysterical Lego boat (because it looks nothing like a boat) that he was just working on earlier that morning. The smell of cinnamon swirl bread, toasted, hung in the air. And then my breathing quickened and everywhere I looked they were there, my family. The impossible... I thought about Sonali. I prayed for a good long while before moving back into my day.
I remembered something after I finished this book. I remembered why I read.