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January 13, 2023

Montreal Book Fair: The library in paradise

(Note to my readers: This letter was written in December.)

I found myself in paradise’s library last Friday. It has to be true because I was in heaven! A huge place, I don’t know how many stories high, with long escalators, lovely posters hanging everywhere, arrows indicating directions, concession stands, information booths and angels dressed as school crossing guards. A thousand kids ran left and right in this real-life dream.

I do not have enough words to describe the unbelievable sight: More than a million books revealing their pages to avid readers. The entire space is filled with the desire to learn and discover. Euphoric and curious, I sway from one bookshelf to the next, gathering pearls of wisdom from each story. I have known all my life that reading is the most fulfilling gift we can offer those we love.

For the occasion, St. Peter has separated paradise by area of interest. I am even under the impression that the children’s section is a hundred times larger than the space dedicated to adults, which is only natural, I suppose. I have lived a full life for which I am very thankful; I have little left to accomplish down here. Young people have so much to learn in order to live well!

As a young girl, I remember not having any books to read at home, no notepad to pour my secrets out in blue ink. And yet Mom had been a school teacher before she married. Had she even read a novel before eczema stopped her from holding a book in her hands?

I had to beg and plead for her to register me at Collège de Rosemont. I can easily recall the small navy blue uniform she had sewn from Dad’s old overcoat, the long beige socks the nuns forced us to wear and the black mantilla covering our heads when we visited the chapel.

I learned how to read real books during my first year of classical studies. And I never stopped. I took my school books very seriously but could lose myself in a romance novel. Soon enough, however, I much preferred the great authors of true literature; those who could teach me how to properly write.

Nearly every wall in my house is covered by a white or brown IKEA bookcase, depending on the room. I’m telling you: I live in a library! And I love to be completely enveloped by books. My books are classified by topic: spirituality, religions of the world, geography and travel, magazines, business, history, literature, pocket book novels, biographies, cookbooks and many more. I guess the only thing I am missing is a book club (I’m thinking about it). I also have many pictures of my favourite authors, who keep me company.

I move happily about the library overseen by angels. I stroll between the tables, I inspect the displays, I scamper down the aisles. Time slips through the divine hourglass.

After many hours of meeting some of my favourite authors, I look for archangel Gabriel’s cane or at least a kind angel whose wings I might fly away on.

My wonderful granddaughter texts me out of the blue as though she had heard me and offers to come pick me up. She wants to have dinner together. So I leave the Montreal Book Fair, transported by the grace of family love. Crossing the city, we find ourselves at her parents’ favourite restaurant in Laval.

Do you know just how much I love my grandkids? My love for them could fill the entire heavens, and then some.