I Do Miss Bookstores
In April, I went in for my regular doctor’s visit. When she asked how I was, I told her that I felt like I was on the edge of depression. I knew I’d just spilled the beans.
I surprised myself, but I kept talking. Actually, it seemed like I couldn’t shut up. I told her how sad I had been about not seeing my family who live in Raleigh.
She asked, “How long has it been?”
“Two years, maybe two-and-a half.”
Nodding her head, she said, “Too long.”
I readily agreed. “My not seeing them has been about trying to stay safe from Covid and keep them safe, too.”
“Covid and mutations of Covid are going to be with us,” she said. “You are pretty healthy. Maybe you just need to go see your family.”
I looked at her. I heard her. I nodded.
We had our vaccinations, but I still stayed home and had been careful for the most part. But I could tell I’d slowly become somewhat sad. No way to explain it except the isolation and self-imposed loss of freedom. I especially missed family in Raleigh, N.C., whom I'd not seen in two years.
I’d had a few problems with my neck, but less computer time and more exercises were improving that. Nothing terrible was going on. I simply missed my old life, my life before-the-plague. I felt somewhat broken and was grieving what I’d taken for granted—especially the flexibility of my family coming and going. My husband could do nothing to fix me.
It helped to say these things aloud to the doctor and have it heard.
So, maybe I needed to get on a plane and go see my son and his family. My near-depressive state immediately started to lift. It was situational!
That little bit of awareness helped. Sometimes we are in the middle of the forest, and there’s no paved road to follow.
My first phone call was to my husband, then to my son.
God’s timing. He must have orchestrated the whole thing—back to my doctor who understood Covid, the mutations, and still said, “Maybe you just need to go see your son.”
My doctor is a mom, too. Many of us moms understand about the empty nest, loss, emptiness. That option did not even seem like a real option until she spoke those words.
Not long after that, a friend called Covid the plague. I heard her loud and clear. So Covid could be a nice name for the plague. People have died from Covid, I’m sure of that. People died from the plague, too. Happily, we have also known people who fell sick and recovered from Covid. It can go either way. A lot for me to process.
A month later, I was in Raleigh, hoping to patch my heart. It was like a homecoming. Good, so very good.
During the days there, my son, his 13-year-old daughter, and I did little things—we took walks in their neighborhood, cooked meals, played games, checked out the local grocery store, picked up a plant and located it in the perfect place outside their door. We talked and talked and talked. We connected. Little things, but big for me.
My empty tank was quickly refilled.
One afternoon, I accompanied my son to pick up my granddaughter. She’d been in school, which was close to a mall. To avoid traffic congestion, he asked her to meet us in front of a particular shop.
A grand greeting, and then we walked half a block to a small bookstore. It was there that I had another ah-ha experience!
We three walked in, and books lined all the shelves. My son was watching me. My eyes watered. I had no idea how much I had missed bookstores!
I sniffled and went toward the display. My granddaughter walked with me. We talked about the clever display, and then she showed me Teen Fiction, where she’d be if I needed her. My son directed me to the poetry books. It was like seeing old friends in a new place. He went off into another part of the bookstore.
How can I tell you? It’s not like looking at a Kindle list. I picked up books, one at a time—hugged them with my eyes, touched several, leafed through a few. Thirty minutes later, they found me, still standing in that same spot. I had not moved.
I thanked the shopkeepers for keeping their shop open. I wanted to sing! I bought a book, of course.
A few days later, that same book was in my bag as I found my seat on the plane. After we were in the air, I read a few pages. Then, a storm started bouncing the plane. I prayed and clung to my book.
Further delays. More rescheduling in Charlotte.
It had been a long day. When my second plane landed in Fayetteville, Arkansas, late in the night, I was beyond grateful and happy to see my husband waiting.
Once I felt safe, and we’d sat down in the car, I said, “I’ll tell you all about the storm, but look! I found a new book! I walked around inside a real bookstore! Oh, I’d forgotten how good it feels.”
P.S. Dear readers, thank you for your patience. I’m in a good spot now, but I know about hard spots. This is just my most recent one. Now, I am finishing up the writing of a new book. You’ll be hearing more about it soon.
The book Pat clung to on the plane, May 1, 2022.
Poetry Books by Pat Durmon