And here we have it…. the first WEM book to make me cry. I didn’t shed tears for Helen Burns in Jane Eyre. I didn’t cry at Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. There was no wetness on my cheek for Oliver’s abuse and neglect in Oliver Twist. The only tears I may have squeezed out for Don Quixote were in relief at having finished the novel. I could go on and on with each title I’ve read the past year.
Do you remember meeting Senator Bird and his wife in chapter nine? When Eliza shares her tale, the Birds understand about grief and loss because Mrs. Bird is still wearing mourning clothes for their child who died a month earlier. The Birds help prepare Eliza for traveling to a safe house. Sen. Bird haltingly suggests that they share some of their deceased son’s things for Eliza’s son to wear.
And oh! mother that reads this, has there never been in your house a drawer, or a closet, the opening of which has been to you like the opening again of a little grave? ah! happy mother that you are, if it has not been so.
The Bird children ask their mother if she intends to give their brother’s things away.
“My dear boys,” she said, softly and earnestly, “if our dear, loving little Henry looks down from heaven, he would be glad to have us do this. I could not find it in my heart to give them away to any common person–to anybody that was happy; but I give them to a mother more heart-broken and sorrowful than I am; and I hope God will send his blessings with them!”
Harriet Beecher Stowe, I’m listening. And friends, keep your tissues close, I’m afraid there’s more sorrow to come.