To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, is my favorite book of all time. There was an honesty of voice, a kindness and truth, that left a clear and unforgettable impression on me. It was a book that didn’t pretty up truths. It spoke them. It spoke them honestly and with an understanding that children are always best at hearing things, when the adult forgets they are too young. Most adults clean up truths to make them more palatable to children, or at least, they think they are doing this for the child, the truth is, they are just too lazy to take the time to explain it in a way that a child will understand and no longer have questions.
I loved Scout. I learned from her the kind of person I wanted to one day be. Scout taught me to think for myself, come to my own opinions. Speak out even if am the only one to do so. To see people for more than their outer appearance. Scout taught me to see people, not for what they looked like, but for who they are, inside their heart.
Today, I read a book that made me remember all these truths. It is called Don’t Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde. It’s the kind of book that changes you. Makes you think long thoughts and recognize dusty truths and forgotten hopes. It is a book that reminds me of Scout, and how much I learned from her. I have a new name to add to my list. Her name, is Grace.
Grace is loud. She is honest and brave and loud. Very enthusiastically loud. She is alive! She knows something most kids don’t. She knows the value in loving people without expectations. Just loving them because you like them. Even if they can’t love you like anyone else can. Maybe even in a way that is eccentric or stumbling. Just loving them, because you don’t mind that they have problems and a laundry list of issues. Because Grace has problems too. Her mom is a drag addict and Grace needs help. She sits on her front step because she hopes someone will help her. Because it needs to be someone who lives there, so she can still be near her mom.
Grace taught me new lessons. She taught me that I want to be someone who dares to love people, all people, even if they do their damnedest to be unlovable. To act unkind or defensive. To be brittle and sharp. To push away and slap. I have learned that I want to be the kind of person, who knows in her bones, that these are people afraid of being hurt. That love scares them the way hurt scares me. That being mean, is their quick way to get a person to leave, before they need them. So they won’t like them too much, only to lose them. Loneliness is sometimes preferred over the fear of loving too much and losing.
I am learning, from Grace, that in order to love people, you have to listen with your heart, instead of your ears. Sometimes you even have to pretend your ears are deaf, cause they say things that are perfectly designed to push you away. Only your heart can hear the whisper ” Please, don’t hurt me” She has taught me, that most people assume that no one cares about them. That they might have forgotten they are lovable, that they can love, even if they are ackward or bad at expressing that love. That all people need to be seen and celebrated. That maybe they didn’t realize that they lost hope of being loved for themselves and withdrew into some safe spot inside them.
It is in our loving that we find our truths. Love changes hearts. It does it slowly, with silent pressure. Teaches someone that they can do things they forgot how to do. Makes them come back to life. Shows them how to speak out loud, things they have kept inside, afraid no one else will care.
Grace is teaching me about the person I want to be. The person that I will build on the foundation Scout created within me. A me that continues the journey I began with Scout.
I am 50% done with this book. I cherish these pages. They feel like treasure. This book has a feeling to it. A kind of undercurrent of community the way you dream it is supposed to be. The kind of honest acceptance and love that I seek to find and cultivate in my interactions with others. The kind of person I want to be. I want to be like Scout. I want to be like Grace. I want to be a better version of myself, because every day I am learning how to be human and how to treat others humanely.
I think everyone should read this book. It has a beauty and grace that cleanses your soul. If you read nothing else all year, this is the one.