Holly Payne is a Bay Area literary figure with myriad entrepreneurial endeavors and book credits to her name. Last year, the author's best friend lost her young child to cancer. As Payne recounts the difficulty of grieving a child she loved like a daughter, she brings up the complicated feelings of going forward after such a loss. They were meant to raise their daughters together--like family. Recently, Payne chronicled her search for solace and healing in a piece The Right Book at the Right Time, which appeared in its entirety as part of Common Grief, a roundup of stories on Huffington Post. We asked Payne to be part of this month's Author of the Month. In this piece, the novelist and mother takes a look at how books come into our lives at times when we are in search of support, comfort and escape. The power of stories to connect us is also at the heart of this monthly column.
The right book?
Was there a book that had the answer? Was there some story that could give me a raft? Was there a narrator that could map out the life my best friend and her husband were about to start living? I was barely holding on to my own world, or what was left of it after Avery's death sentence.
In the midst of this, my daughter and I maintained our summer ritual going to the Mill Valley public library to renew our stack of books and read in the grove of redwood trees. The library offered sustenance and a way to break up the stagnant energy of my grief. Every book we borrowed buoyed me. The fact that I could hold my daughter on my lap and read to her filled me with joy. And grief. My best friend could no longer do this with her daughter. And so the pendulum swung inside my head with almost every interaction I had with my daughter. What I could do, my best friend could not. What was still happening for me, had ended for her. How would I ever be able to communicate completely and share the details of my life without unintentionally causing her harm?
There's not much written about how to be a friend to someone with cancer. There's even less written about how to be a friend to a friend who has lost or is losing a child. These are the kill joy conversations. People turn away. They don't know what to say. It's too awful to address.
I desperately needed that book--the one with the answers.
You can read the original post, The Right Book at the Right Time on Huffington Post.