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This is it.

February 22, 2011

This is what it looked like yesterday afternoon when I finished printing:

That’s 1,150 pages of paper (two copies of one manuscript) and one electronic copy on the tiny USB drive perched on top.

This is what it tooked like this morning:

1,150 pieces of paper, three boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape, and one tiny memory stick weigh 14 lbs.  I had two choices. They could fly it to Nebraska for delivery tomorrow, Wednesday, for $106.95. Or they could drive it there for delivery Thursday for $12.95. After living with this project since 2006, opting for two day delivery to save $96 was not hard!

*****

It was fitting that Mercy was my companion for the big send-off. More than any of the other girls, Mercy has shared her mommy with this book. Until about a year ago when I entered the intense writing phase, the last hour of my evening before her bedtime belonged to Mercy. Spending time alone with Mercy recharges my batteries almost as well as time alone with a good book. But Mercy, at seven, still finds mommy time better than almost anything else.

Our evening time alone together goes back about five years, to when Mercy was two and began talking well enough to tell me she was always afraid of losing me. Not unexpected when you’ve lost both your first mother and your foster mother by the time you’re five and half months old. Her little heart had very early settled on a univeral truth: if you love someone, one day they will hand you to a stranger and walk away.

So Mercy tried mighily hard not to fall in love with her next mother. But she couldn’t help it and by about age two she was panicked with the thought that because she loved me, she would lose me, too. So our “mommy time” was born: undivided-attention time, zero competition from siblings time, whatever-Mercy-wanted time. Over time, and with lots of time, her heart healed. In the process, Mercy and I developed an unusually close relationship.

For the past year, Mercy has given her mommy time back to me. After 8:30 PM is the only time our house approaches “quiet” or any of those other adjectives people usually associate with writing time. So rather than curling up with me on the couch with a stack of books, Mercy has brought her books to me –most recently, my Kindle on which she is reading Sara Crewe — and curled up on the carpet by my desk chair and has read, or worked on a puzzle, or played Animal Logic until bedtime while I worked. Then after a break for tucking-in, I came back to my desk and worked  on the book until long after everyone in the house was asleep.

*****

Tending the printer off and on for two days, I began taking mouse-sized bites at the pile of chaos occupying the other half of the basement: last season’s clothes, next season’s beach toys, all the books and games that don’t fit on the shelves, 90% of the home school stuff, Joy’s extra equipment, and everything else requiring a thoughful decision. Sunday night I was having so much fun digging, sorting, and throwing that several times I forgot to feed the printer until it stopped whiring long enough to get my attention.

One of my finds was a bag full of children’s books from my mom, a book lover and inveterate thrift store shopper. (Once, Mercy told me, when Nana took her shopping at Goodwill, “Nana got losted. But she wasn’t really losted. She was in the books.”) From their depth in the pile, I guessed Nana gave us the bag last fall. I spot-read each book and dealt it onto one of four piles in front of me. The last book in the bag nearly landed on Joy’s pile because the colorful pictures and the rollicking rhymes were sure to make her laugh. But then I noticed the author was Mary Ann Hoberman, the author of the book that made Mercy fall in love with poetry, The Llama Who Had No Pajama. So I transfered You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You to Mercy’s pile.

*****

Are you done yet?
                              I will be soon.
Are you done yet?
                             There’s almost room…  
To read to me?
                              For one last note.
Written on my heart,
I hope.
                             Yes, dear child.
                              I’m finally through.

You’ll read to me.
                     I’ll read to you.

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