I have endured a difficult few months prior to the final wrench yesterday when I lost a second son to another country. It was while we were perusing his impressive collection of books prior to packing them for storage that I borrowed what turned out to be the first of Lee Child’s novels featuring Jack Reacher. Talk about a page-turner! Killing Fields gave my mind a complete break from the sadness hovering in the wings. I whipped through it in a single sitting and felt refreshed afterwards. While browsing through a second-hand bookshop in Bathurst before Christmas, I came across another Jack Reacher novel.
I was hooked and purchased another novel from a bookshop in Port Elizabeth several weeks later. We had already reached the stage of ‘the last’ of this and that and I found comfort in the quick-action dimension that required no thought or emotional investment on my part.
As the impending departure loomed darkly, a friend and I met for coffee and she returned a pile of Ann Cleeves novels I had lent her during a difficult time. “What do you think of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels” I asked, thinking she too may find them a distraction.
“I have a heap of them at home.” My eyes must have lit up for she called me a week later to collect them. They teetered on a to-be-read pile on my desk.
I was bone tired from sorting, packing, cleaning and having to face up to the impending departure. Sleep evaded me during the final week and so I tackled the pile – finishing each novel somewhere between midnight and 2 am – then waking with my mind refreshed and cleansed of the previous day’s concerns.
On our return from the final farewell at the airport two hours away, I felt too emotionally drained to do anything useful other than to brew a cup of tea and curl up in a chair to read the last of the Jack Reacher novels in my pile. I have now read my fill of them and know it is time to move on.
Months ago another friend gave me a pile of old delicious magazines she had found in a charity shop. Feeling tired and emotionally drained, I picked one up at random before going to bed. It is dated November 2022. While idly turning the pages, my attention was drawn to this illustration that seemed so ‘me’.
Hands cupped around a warm drink, a notebook at hand, something to eat, and the autumnal background all ‘spoke’ to me for it clearly illustrates me carving a slice of peace in a busy day as I sit in our garden and watch birds whilst eating breakfast or enjoying mid-morning tea. Then I saw the post-it note from my friend.
The title of the article is ‘The comfort of simple pleasures’. Yes! That is where my comfort will be sought in the coming months. I sent her this message: Lying in bed tonight after an exhausting week and a particularly sad day, listening to the wind howling and trying to warm my feet, I picked up a copy of delicious … [and found your note]. Both are balm for my bruised soul.
How serendipitous it is that I picked up that particular magazine and was blessed by her unexpected note when I needed it most!