“Live your Life. Live your Life. Live your Life.”
- Maurice Sendak
Sometimes my brain surprises me with its capacity to grieve for those I’ve never met. I cried when Lucille Ball died. I joined the rest of the grungy youth mourning Kurt Cobain. The death of Steve Jobs somehow hit me like a ton of bricks. And now, with the news of the death of Maurice Sendak, this inexplicable sadness fills me as this person, this creator of magic and wonder is no longer here.
Children’s literature has always held a place in my heart and I was raised in a home where reading was valued, and reading was special and reading was part of our daily lives. As a child and now, as an adult, I could easily slip away and get lost in the world between the covers of a book. I could let the words paint pictures in my mind and somehow I was transported – to the land of the Wild Things or to Ramona’s Klickitat Street.
Those who know me know well the place in my heart held by “Goodnight Moon” – my favorite children’s book, it was also my mother’s favorite to read to me. And now, even though my children are too old for its simple prose, I still cherish that great green room and its telephone and the cow jumping over the moon.
Max held a place in my heart, close to that of the quiet old woman whispering hush.
I remember having this story read to me, I remember reading it to myself, and I read it to both of my girls, though neither seemed to love it quite like I did.
Sad and complicated Max escaping to a world where he could be king.
And he felt sad and complicated to me – not so much naughty. Just a frustrated boy. Frustrated kid. Creating a world when he couldn’t control his own.
And I loved it.
I love it still.
And from a house of reading to my own house of reading, my daughters both have my strong love for books and our shelves overflow with books – all of these pages full of new adventures and characters and illustrations. But it seems so many of these stories don’t hold the same magic as the ones from when I was young – and maybe that’s just my age talking or maybe it’s true. There are so many people out there creating, and the creating? That’s good. But it’s hard to sort through all the garbage to find the true gems. The classics. The ones that become a part of your heart and your history and weave their way into your very being so that when you are older, you remember with a wave of nostalgia how much those words meant to you and you nearly ache to share those words with the next generation.
I have no idea what books those will be. What books my daughters will share.
But, to me, I still hold Max close in my heart.
And Max the king of all wild things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.
RIP Maurice Sendak. Thank you for your words, your creativity, your passion. Thank you for leaving your mark on my childhood and on my heart with your stories. I’ll keep on sharing them, I will, so that one day maybe my grandchildren will love Max and the Wild Things as I did.