Bidding Farewell to a Dear
Friend by Debra H. Goldstein
This year, I said good-bye to my personal library. Our
aging physical infirmities and our old house no longer matched. Our new house,
which we can’t believe we built during the pandemic, is perfect for us.
Although there is a guest bedroom and bath upstairs, everything we need is on
the main level.
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
ones that commemorated
events – like the Dr. Seuss one everyone gets for graduation or books that contained
the first published poems of my children.
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
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.