Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Help

For the past few days, I have been reading the most amazing book. I finished it tonight, and it is probably one of the best books I've ever read. I couldn't stop reading it, and read about 250 pages last night! Kurt was trying to sleep next to me and thought I was insane for staying up so late. It's one of the first things I've allowed myself to focus on (aside from school work) that's not infant-loss related. I've got tons of books about that, and have basically poured over them since November. But, The Help was recomended on a blog that I read often. It's been on every best-seller list for 2009, so those of you who pay attention to that kind of thing may have already heard of it or read it.

In short, the book is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s. It follows the story of two black maids and one extraordinary white woman who begins to realize that there is something wrong with the way the white Jackson society treats their "help". She enlists these women to help her create a book of true stories about their experiences as maids for some of the most prominent families in town. In some cases, the children in these families were closer to the maids than they were to their own mothers, who were too busy to care for them themselves. The civil rights era is one of my favorite times to learn/read about... and this is one dimension of that time that I hadn't ever given much thought to.

This book doesn't have much to do with babies. One of the maids cares for a little girl who is two, and there are a few pregnancies in the book... but they don't really take precident or have a whole lot to do with the story. At least not enough to be upsetting....

Then, about halfway through the book, while Miss Skeeter (the white woman) is talking about the kinds of stories she's been hearing from the maids during the interviews that she's been conducting late at night, so that none of her white friends will know what she's doing.

Here is a quote from that page.
         "The talk turns mundane at times, with complaints of low pay, hard hours, bratty children. But then there are stories of white babies dying in arms. That soft, empty look in their still blue eyes.
          Olivia, she was called. Just a tiny baby, with her tiny hand holding on to my finger, breathing so hard...".

I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. Kurt was sleeping next to me, which was the only thing that kept me from bursting into tears and completely losing it. I laid here for about 5 minutes, just staring at those paragraphs.

You have GOT to be kidding me!! That's what I was thinking at first. Out of ALL the books I could have chosen to order from amazon, and out of ALL the names that Kathryn Stockett could have chosen to name that little baby... it had to be Olivia. What are the ODDS OF THAT?

I have to tell you, I was mad when I read it, at first. I mean, come on! I'm doing everything in my power to feel better. Finding things to do to take my mind off of this grief (like reading, for example) And JUST when I'm starting to feel comfortable, and haven't thought about her for about 20 minutes (that's about as long as I can go, so far)... there she is.

Then... I realized. God is telling me not to forget her. He's reminding me that she is everywhere. Livie is always waith me... no matter what I'm doing. She doesn't want me to forget about her, and I think that she and God are trying to make sure that doesn't happen. Not that it ever would... but I think you get what I'm saying. I turned down the corner on that page in the book, and have re-read it a few times.

Remember the other day when I posted about being afraid to move forward because moving forward seems like forgetting? I think reading this book was an answer to my prayers. A reminder that just because I'm moving forward and allowing myself to focus on other things doesn't mean that I love Livie any less than I did when I did nothing but lay on the couch and think about her all the time. God knew that I was struggling with this, and he sent this book to me to teach me that I am her mama, and she is my baby... and that won't change no matter what's going on in my life.

I love when He speaks to me like this, even thought it often takes me a day or two to calm down and realize what's happening.

And... here's a picture of Olivia that no one's really seen. Kurt, my Mom and I have it as the background on our phones. Kurt took the picture with his phone in the hospital.

I don't know anything that's more beautiful than that little face.

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The McNeil Family said...

She is absolutely precious. She really takes my breath away every time I see her picture.

He won't let you forget. Whenever you are doubting yourself (even when you think you are fine), He will send a little hint. Of course, it might be as soft as a whisper or as loud as a thunderclap... in this instance, it was more like a B52 flying right overhead. ;) But I am glad you were able to hear what God was telling you. HIs reminders are meant to sooth your heart.

Many prayers

PS Can't wait to see pics of the scrapbook!!

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