Life Lessons from Gayle Forman
I was excited to be invited to help celebrate the paperback release of Gayle Forman’s I Was Here by sharing some of my favorite quotes from her books. I feel a special connection to I Was Here. You see, seven years ago I lost my best friend as well. While I didn’t have quite the same experience as Cody, who loses her best friend Meg to an incomprehensible suicide, I do feel that her experience of grief is universal and that Forman captures that reality in amazing and poignant ways.
Part of the experience of grief involves feeling like you’ve been completely unseated from reality. Or, as Cody puts it:
Shocked is not the word for it. Shocked is when I finally got Tricia to tell me who my father was, only to find out that up until I was nine, he’d been living not twenty miles away from us. What happened with Meg is something altogether different; it’s like waking up one morning and finding out you live on Mars now.
Meg’s parents ask Cody to travel to Meg’s college to pack her belongings, and the scent of Meg lingers there like a presence.
I’m not sure what to do about her bed sheets because they still smell like her, and I have no idea if her scent will do to Sue what it’s doing to me, which is making me remember Meg in such a real visceral way — sleepovers and dance parties and those talks we would have until three in the morning that would make us feel lousy the next day because we’d slept like hell but also feel good because the talks were like blood transfusions, moments of realness and hope that were pinpricks of light in the dark fabric of small-town life.
I am tempted to inhale those sheets. If I do, maybe it will be enough to erase everything. But you can only hold your breath for so long. Eventually, I’ll have to exhale her, and then it’ll be like those mornings, when I wake up, forgetting before remembering.
Dreaming that my bestie is still alive and the waking up and ‘forgetting before remembering’ doesn’t happen to me much anymore, but it is one of the most devastating parts of losing that person to whom you felt the closest connection in the world.
Finally, I feel like Forman really captures one of the eventual outcomes of experiencing grief – it prepares you to help others live through theirs.
He introduces me to a group of groovy-looking girls in cute dresses and cool shoes — Meg people. They’re all about a decade older, but that wouldn’t have stopped her. When Ben explains who I am, one of the women embraces me in a spontaneous hug. Then she holds me at arm’s length and says, “You’ll get through it. I know it seems like you won’t, but you will.” Without asking anything more, I get that she, too, has been through this, has been left behind, and it makes me feel less alone.
If you’d like the opportunity to win a complete set of Gayle Forman’s paperbacks, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway now through February 15th.
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About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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