Bidding Farewell to a Dear Friend by Debra H. Goldstein
I have a garden room office that lets me have natural light and look at trees when the writing isn’t going well. My husband, on the other side of the house, has a man cave that features a television covering an entire wall. We meet in the middle to eat but have an unspoken rule that those two rooms are our private sanctuaries – off limits to each other.
When we were building this house, I knew from the floor plans that it lacked the space for me to move my entire library. My library, which was arranged alphabetically by author, contained sections for biography, mystery, general literature, children’s, young adult, theater, Judaica and other religious studies, how-to-books, law books, writing reference books, crime reference books, cookbooks, and my TBR bookshelf (which usually spread to my dresser). There were thousands of books. I identified my library as being a part of me.
Giving away my library was akin to giving away one of my children. I have good memories of when my daughter was 6 and had to count something for school that would be at least 100. I gave her a pad and pencil and told her to count books. When I suddenly realized she’d been quiet for too long, I found her nearing 2000. We decided she could stop counting. My memories include loaning books to people that introduced them to new authors or answered questions they posed to me. There were also special
Without flinching, I parted with my dining room furniture which we’d purchased as a wedding present to ourselves, bedrooms sets, dishes, pots and pans, and various other pieces of furniture, but the books remained. It was easy to offer my children any books they wanted to take and to let a dear friend raid the mystery section. The trouble came with what to do with the remainder. I vowed to take the children’s books that I might read to my grandchildren or that they might want to read in the future. I also put aside a handful of the writing and crime resource books, as well as a few books of poetry my father and I read together when I was a child. Then, I started making phone calls. A librarian friend told me about a library in an economically challenged part of Alabama that had an excess of space, but a limited collection and a lack of funds. When I called, I knew it was a match made in heaven.
I had movers pack the books I wasn’t keeping in boxes that could be lifted. Neatly stacked, they filled my dining room and spilled into my living room. The librarian sent her husband, who owned a flatbed truck, and her daughter to pick up the books. In the end, most were added to their collection or were put on a bookmobile. Very few were marked for the Friends of the Library sale. The empty bookcases found a home, too.
It’s been six months and I still feel the loss, but I’m glad that in a sense, I’m now sharing a part of who I am with others.