Lucky streak (verb): A series of concurrent fortunate outcomes or occurrences
It’s not the end of the Mumoirs blog, as some of you may have hoped/feared (delete as applicable), but the end of the Summer book streak.
When someone dies, you have to take comfort where you can find it. For me, it’s been spotting Summer’s name EVERYWHERE, but particularly in my books (we even drove past a sign to Summertown today. Unfortunately it was near that other place though – Oxford – boo!).
I first mentioned here, that ever since she died, I have seen Summer’s name in every book that I have read. Since reading and writing have been my main source of comfort, the number of books, initially climbed to 60. The lucky streak continued past her first birthday, but alas, all good things must come to an end. And the consecutive book streak ends here at 93.
I’ve just spotted something. I’m totally doing that thing with numbers again, but:
- The 9th was Summer’s birthday
- She was born in the 3rd month of the year
93 = 9th March!
You’ve got to take comfort, where you can find it. Especially in the coincidences.
It is true that I may have stumbled upon the most frequently used noun in novels, an easy or obvious way for authors to mark the passage of time, the heat of the day or for the longing of warmer days gone by. But Summer was also been a character in an Austen story, part of a meal in the Hunger Games prequel and a fictional location, as a creek!
Her name appeared in books which taught me about North-American immigration, poverty in the north of England and acts of bravery in Italy during the Second World War. Summer was also with me, as I read about characters getting caught up in a comical inadvertent hostage situation, as a sister fell out with her psychopath sister and as a bookish protagonist FINALLY started dating her dream man. In a book about strong women, the word summer was mentioned so many times, that I lost count. In a story about hardship, injustice and resilience, it was the same. In the books about grief, there she was. Summer was even the surname of one character and a street name in another.
Sometimes Summer popped up at the most perfect time: just as the protagonist entered the midnight library or after the birth of a child. Occasionally she was an instant “hello” on the very first page of a novel or a “bye mum!” on the final page of another. I even once saw the phrase “the first day of Summer” right after discussing another loss mum’s birthday plans for her deceased son. Every time I saw the word, it made me smile and almost always, seeing her name was accompanied by a “there you are!” or a “thank you” out loud.
But the Summer streak has now run its course. As we approach the first anniversary of this website, one year of truly confronting and coming to terms with what has happened, the consecutive book count has come to an end.
So which book was the cruel culprit, the vicious villain? Funnily enough, it was a children’s book. We spent this week with friends and I packed this book especially, to read with one of my favourite little boys. I’ve mentioned him previously, both here and here.
The book is set in Cambridge University, at the College where I met James (which is why I booed Oxford above!). It was written by a lady in the younger year to us and it’s a tale about a sleuth who solves crimes, on roller-skates! I’ve been wanting to read it for ages, to take a trip down memory lane, I just wanted a child to enjoy it with. So, enjoy it we did, taking it in turns to read chapters and pages, giggling our way through the 215 pages and enjoying all the Harry Potter and other cultural references. Bedtime reading, at its very, very best.
J is a very special boy, who stole such a large part of my heart when he was born 7 years ago, that even though we turned page after page, without seeing her name, I was increasingly at peace with it. The streak had to end somewhere and so I am glad that is has done so in a book that I enjoyed, with someone who I love (and who loves books even more than I do!) and in a fun read that I will always have fond memories of. The book streak lasted for 93 comforting and solitary reads and ended with laughter and the very best company and cuddles. To me, that means something. That means everything.
Before Summer, I would rarely turn down the page corners of books, now I do it ALL the time, whenever I spot her name. If the bottom corner is folded, it means she’s in the bottom half of the page. If it’s a particularly big fold, it means her name is in that half more than once.
One day, someone will inherit my books. Perhaps one of my children, or a niece, nephew or godchild. Someone, someday, will see how much I loved my daughter and how she was never far from my thoughts. Perhaps one day, on my deathbed, you’ll find a pile of books with the corners turned down. Isn’t that a nice weird thought?
It’s now June. Summer’s season. A fitting time for the streak to end, because she’s still with me. I know that. It’s just time to turn this page.
Some people see their children in the stars, in feathers, in flowers or in visiting robins. I see mine in books. So if you see Summer’s name in your books and you too want to turn down the corners, we would love that. I will always keep an eye out for her. Forever. It is not much of a legacy, but it is ours.
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