Book Review: A Monster Calls

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I have a deeply routed fear.  It’s been there now, deep in my psyche and weighing on my heart for about a year.  When I least expect, it creeps up like a serpnt from the base of my big toe and wraps itself around my heart.  Air rushes from my lungs and tears fill my eyes.
I’ve become a magnet.  A magnet to stories, blogs, novels, anything regarding parents and children, especially mothers and their sons.  It feels like there’s been an explosion on Facebook of blogs reposted by friends of families who have experienced the loss of a child or a parent.  Their stories lead me to my knees, humbled in the face of my fear.

My fear is two-fold:
1) That I will lose my son.
2) That my son will lose me.
The truth of the matter is- unless a freak and tragic accident takes us both at the same time (God forbid)- one of us will lose the other in our lifetime.  And this is the thought that wakes me up at night and that draws me to stories of loss.

Today, a friend reposted a blog of a mother whose toddler son died from a heart arhythmia during his regular nap.

A couple of months ago, a friend reposted a blog of a husband and father of two young boys, whose wife died very suddenly last fall.

 A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness–Official Book Trailer

I read their stories and beg…whoever is out there to beg…that it not be me and my son.
Recently, I read Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls.  This superb, lovely, painful little book has haunted me ever since.  As the main character’s mother is dying from cancer, he struggles to satiate the monster who calls on him every night at the same time.  At a certain point in the book, the boy steps into the monster and becomes him, wreaking havoc and destruction on his enemies.  And yet, this is not the monster that he fears the most.  What he fears the most is fear itself.  Fear that what he truly wants is for his mother to die to end her pain.  Fear that his mother will die.  Fear that, when the time comes, he cannot let her go.

At night, when the shadows reach across the bed from the tree outside my window, I can feel the yew’s prickly branches and its spicy, woody scent fills my nose. 
I know one day that my fear will be realized.  Until then, I’ll keep reading.  I read to find solace in the inexplicable connection grief can weave between strangers.  I read to unearth glints of understanding and patterns to try to ratioanlize why a mother would ever have to lose a child or a child ever to have to live without its mother.  But I know that just as this Winter will turn to Spring,  there is life on the otherside.  It’s a life I never want to understand. 

But until then, I’ll read.

My fear does bring me joy.  It’s started to become my companion during the day, especially when a toddler tantrum raises feelings of frustration.  My fear whispers, “someday, these moments will be memories.  Someday your arms will ache to wrap themselves around him and he will not be there.  Someday he will long to hear you say his name and whisper, “I love you,” but you will not be there.”  And so, in those moments and every moment in between I will say his name and whisper as I wrap my arms around him, “I love you. I love you.  I love you.”

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