Have you ever had that rare experience where a book made you cry? I don’t mean just thinking to yourself “Wow, that was sad”, but actually tear up while reading? Knowing that you won’t put the book down, even when it hurts to continue?
I have. Twice that I can recall.
The first time it ever happened to me was reading a book that made up part of the “Dragonlance” series. Being a little Geeky McNerdly Nerd going way back, a series full of drama, adventure and magic sucked me in faster than you can say “Wizards of the Coast”. I loved the grand sweeping universe of these books, but even more I loved the characters. They were more than just wispy figures in my mind. They felt solid – they felt real.
So real that when we lost one, it hurt. A LOT.
The book was called “Dragons of Winter Night”, and (spoiler alert) the character who died was a knight named Strum Brightblade. He was the closest thing this world had to a Paladin – he was brave, he was chivalrous, he was a man with a strict code of honor.
In short, he drove the other characters crazy. Paladins tend to do that.
Yet when he died, sacrificing himself to save the others in his group, it felt like a punch in the chest. I still remember my eyes welling up, my throat growing tighter and tighter. Sitting there thinking to myself “No, he’s not really… he is. He’s gone.” It hurt more than any pain I had felt before reading a book. I thought I’d never feel that type of emotional connection to a fictional character again.
Guess how that turned out.
Fast-forward a few years. I’m not an (alleged) adult, browsing around in a local bookstore. I find a new book, sit down and start reading.
It was “Remembering Farley”.
A compilation of Lynn Johnston’s comic strip “For Better of For Worse” comic strips that dealt with the family dog, “Remembering Farley” was about the rambunctious sheepdog’s life – and (again spoiler alter) his tragic death. Farley died after saving little April Patterson, who had tumbled into a river.
And there I sat, in the middle of a public bookstore, sniffling away, the words and pictures blurring from the tears in my eyes.
Those moments of pain are treasured memories, strangely enough. Like a wonderful movie I’ve seen recently brought home, sadness is part of life, and the joy of reading is one that I will always have.