Warning: spoiler alerts ahead.
Our family loves to read Elephant and Piggie. I dryly read the part of Gerald the Elephant while Blitzen reads Piggie the Piggie with exuberant expression.
Our most-read title is “We Are In a Book.” Our heroes romp playfully together until Piggie mentions that the book will end on Page 57.
“ENDS!?!” screams Elephant. “The book ends?!”
“Yes,” says Piggie. “All books end.”
We read those pages again and again, Piggie/Blitzen wisely helping her friend Elephant confront his existential dread.
Our latest read has been the story of Marley, a rambunctious, joyful 100-pound dog who lived life in a big way. Before we started, Carrie and I sat down and talked to Blitzen about how the story would end. After a few days of reading, we reminded her of the sad ending ahead and asked if she wanted to keep reading. She responded “Yes! I can’t stop now. I have to keep reading about Marley!”
We read about the time Marley’s owner rode a toboggan down the snowy hill behind his house. Naturally, Marley jumped on and the two sped down, hanging onto each other, out of control, screaming, laughing and trying to steer clear of trees before landing in the river. Blitzen loved every page of Marley’s misadventures.
We finished the book last night and the three of us sobbed together in bed, talking about endings. We talked about our dog Stan and scattering his ashes under a tree in Central Park.
Blitzen drifted to sleep, then woke up. “Marley was as wild as the wind,” she announced. “I hope my dog is wild as the wind too.”
There will be many more Blitzen-tagged posts on Carrie’s brilliant blog. We’re still inventing our family, still learning from one another, still in the middle of our story. But all books end. Foster families, like Blitzen’s beach sculptures, are monuments to uncertainty and impermanence.
Carrie and I have made a choice to live and parent like page 57 is a long way away. When you speed downhill with someone wild as the wind you hang to each other and savor the ride.