My birthday party was yesterday and I have some beautiful things to tell you about, once my friend sends me the important photos. It might take a couple of days, so hold on!
I have, however, finally finished my speech for the Lions Youth competition, and in good time, as well, as it is tomorrow that I'll have to present it! Here it is, with several extra paragraphs added since the previous draft I shared. I hope that you like it.
The greatest pain that I have ever felt was not physical, but the grief of goodbye. It was at the end of my favourite book, All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot. James Herriot told me chapter by chapter the true story of his life as a country vet in Wales, the tragic, the infuriating, the hilarious, and all with a gentle, humorous and loving voice. It was the voice that I fell asleep each night listening to. His tales were witty and oven-roastedly authentic. I was in love with him and his gum boots, his midnight emergency calls, the gossips and the inside-jokes in which I shared a slice of paradise.
But I took it for granted that World War One raged in the background. And soon enough, my James Herriot was enlisted and I was faced with his departure and the horror of Change. I become the wives and lovers of all the troops. My boys were facing danger and I had to face being left behind, alone. I tearfully waved my handkerchief out the window as he left and then the book was over. That was the greatest pain that I have ever felt. Sitting in my room, alone, with the closed book on my knee, sobbing hysterically.
George R. R. Martin said that “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” Through the thousands of lives I have already lived in books, I’ve travelled the world. What I have experienced and learnt has made me so much older, and younger at the same time. I have learnt from mistakes before I make them myself. I have been handed the gift of empathy and since then a million opportunities to gift others with understanding. I have been reminded of my humanity; urged to discover what I am. I have an inkling that in the end, I’m still growing, and in thirty years, I can read the same books again and discover them anew. . More so than the experience, though, I have valued the people. The characters have become, as Martin Tupper said “the best of friends, the same today and forever.”
Anne of Green Gables. One of the most beautiful people I have ever met. With her I went through the entire colourwheel of hurts and joys, and grew up and graduated and fulfilled my dreams. With Julia Child, I laughed and ate and drank and discovered every inch of my love for Paris. With Doctor Doolittle, I learnt the secrets of the ocean from the mouth of a fish and saved mens’ lives by following the Jabizri beetle. Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee. We wrung out every bloody strip of failure to mend our doubts and continue.
The reading that I have done has added to me as a person. It has given me experiences, and close, lifelong friendships with beautiful people. These stories have become my own and grown into my legacy. It’s a legacy that I desperately want to share. I want to share my friendship with Anne Shirley of Green Gables, with Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, with Julia Child and Doctor Doolittle, with Frodo and Sam, all 101 dalmations, and James Herriot. I have already lived a thousand lives and my legacy is full of best friends and glorious journeys. What will your legacy be?