It had been a long day, a bit of a crazy day, a sad day.
We were preparing for the possible death of my daughter’s teacher, someone she has come to adore this school year, and whom many have adored before her.
That’s what was on my mind — the visit we’d just paid to his hospital room, where he seemed to be slipping away. So when I pulled up the driveway to let her out so I could leave again to accomplish my afternoon errands, it didn’t click — the box on the front steps.
“Can you check to see who it’s for?” I asked her. She looked, then picked up the medium-sized box and brought it over to me. I could tell from her expression that it was heavier than she’d thought, and when she handed it to me, it was heavier than I’d imagined too. What could it be?
I hadn’t ordered anything lately. What was it? What was I forgetting? I couldn’t tell from the return address either. It wasn’t from our publisher, so it couldn’t be our book. Or…could it?
Suddenly, I realized, this must be it! Could it be? Our advanced author copies. I would have to open it up to know for sure.
Well, no time now. First things first. Pick up the younger kids at school. Don’t want to make them stand in the cold. Those rosy cheeks, those accusing eyes. “Why did it take you so long, Mom? Where were you?” I couldn’t face that this day. So I headed off, the box sitting on the passenger’s seat, taunting me.
I arrived at the school with enough time to sit with the box and attempt to open it. But this was easier said than done. Whomever wrapped it, or whatever machine it was, had it down to a science. I tried and tried and tried with my bare hands. Finally, I had to search for something sharp. They keys. That’s the only thing that might tear through that strapping tape.
Finally, twisted into a strange position, there in the van, I was able to find the opening, and pull back the four box lids to find…
Yes. Yes! This is it! After three long years, we have…a book!
It is impossible to convey how this feels, because, of course, it’s about so much more than that moment. But in that moment, every conversation, ever moment of stress, all the moments of anticipation and joy, converge, and there it is. On the seat….of the van…in front of the school.
There’s a moment of reveling, and then soon, the kids emerge from the school, and there’s no more time to savor. That savoring moment — that first glance, the first touch — it’s over. It will never come again. But it’s a moment you will never, ever, for the rest of your life, forget.
I still remember opening my first children’s book that I authored too — how I ran downstairs in my pajamas to call my husband on our cordless phone that had been plugged in, and how, when I emerged again upstairs, my son, then 2, now 12, was running around the living room with a cover of one of my brand-new books, now crinkled from his unknowing, young hands.
“I can never have a moment,” I thought then. And now, a decade later, repeating the same thing but without toddlers, I think, “I can never have much of a moment now either, can I?” And yet…I had the moment. Fleeting though it might have been, it was precious.
The kids need me now. They’ve just come from a whole day of experiences and have many things on their mind besides my book. “Oh, that’s nice mom,” one says, focused on other issues. The others seem somewhat curious. I let them look at it. They hold it, wonder about it, ask a few questions. And then we’re heading into the rest of our night.
I know I will have to resume the world already in motion, but before that, I send a text to Texas, and we squeal together through the written word, and then, through a quick phone conversation. It’s real. It’s really real!
A day will pass before I’m able to return to the box. But when I do, I lift that first copy out and hold it to my chest, and smile. And then I open it, and read…and smile some more, and look upward and say, in all sincerity, “Thank you, God. Thank you for bringing me, and Ramona, and all who worked to make this happen, to this moment.”
Q4U: How did you react upon realizing your dream had arrived?