Wednesday, 29 October 2008

TUCK EVERLASTING, by Natalie Babbitt

This is a most unusual children's book. It is a book about the importance of dying.

It's about the Tuck family, who is blessed with (or rather, doomed to) eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, and a ten-year-old girl who stumbles on their secret.

I often think we hide from death too much. Like babies who cover their eyes and believe that what they can't see doesn't exist. Sweet - in babies. A bit silly for the rest of us, given that the only certainty in every single person's life is that we will die one day. Most of the world likes to pretend that death doesn't walk around with them wherever they go. And then someone dies, and we are shocked, immobilised and offended by this "horrible" thing that has happened.

I suppose I think about all this more since my father was diagnosed with cancer. He's recovering now, but the experience forced me to accept that death WILL come, some day. It could come for me before it comes for him, for that matter. It nearly did, back in 2003 when I had the dengue haemmorhagic fever. Since then, I've started looking at life - and death - not just differently, but also more frequently. I decided that, like the baby, I need to keep growing. I need to uncover my eyes, end an endearing but pointless game, and dare to look, explore, find truths, and grow. I want to be ready. I want to die better, and also live better.

Finding this lovely little book, at this time of searching, was one of those pleasant coincidences that I often suspect are not coincidences at all.

1 comment:

JMH said...

To not be scared of death would mean you did something right. If you wanted to write about them, I'd be interested in the particulars of discovering/befriending your mortality.