Often, in recent days, patrons who have known me for a long while and knew of Mommy's struggles have asked how she was, and when I've told them she is gone, they often immediately say "Can I give you a hug?"
Somehow there is a delicacy to this that moves me beyond words.
Yesterday, a patron brought in a little girl, telling me she had just had a family tragedy and wanted to bring her somewhere cheerful. She was 8--too old for my story time, but I ended up doing it out on the main floor, and she looked at books while the patron and her own child took part in the program.
I went over afterwards to help her find something and realized that I knew her. I took the patron aside and told her, I had known this child and her family for years--what had happened?
The girl's parents had been in the process of a divorce, and the father, suffering from depression, had taken his own life. I don't think I'd ever met him, but I knew the mom, both because her daughters took ballet from my friend and teacher Lynne, and because they'd come to programs for years.
Truthfully, this little girl had been a 14 karat pain in the butt. Her mom didn't discipline her, she was rude at story time and ran amok in the library. She wasn't likeable. Not at all.
But when she looked at me and said "My daddy died", all I could say is "I know and I'm so sorry, and I know how you feel. My mommy just died."
And then I too said it.
"Can I give you a hug?"