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Jenna Grace Van Mourik
Jun 27, 2018
I had always been very close to my grandma. She was one of the most important influences on my life during my formative years. We shared a love of the same things, mainly, classic books! Going to Grandma's house was always a treat, because she would often tell me the story of Anne Shirley in "Anne of Green Gables," or read to me from "The Secret Garden" or "Little House on the Prairie" until I had fallen asleep in the little fort she had allowed me and my cousins to make in the middle of her living room every time we visited. It was because of her, that I first developed a love for stories. I would become so entranced with the ones she used to read with me, that they would quickly become all I could think about. Like all grandmas, she would only encourage this love of mine, and quickly produce craft projects related to the books and help me make up costumes out of old clothes so that I could pretend that I was Laura Ingalls or Anne Shirley. In my middle school and early high school years, I had a falling out with reading. Reading, according to my social group, wasn't "cool" and I needed to focus more on my social life, social media, make-up, clothes, and the like. Then, very suddenly on one very hot, summer morning, my mother received a call that would change all of our lives. My grandma had suffered from what the doctors thought was a stroke. They were doing everything they could to help her and transport her to the nearest hospital that specialized in that sort of thing, only when she got to the hospital, we were informed it had not been a stroke at all. My grandma had an aneurysm in her brain, and there was nothing that could be done. The week after her death was a blur, family had been coming and going in and out of town, our refrigerator was over flowing with pasta salads and casseroles from good-natured neighbors and friends. People would say things like, "are you doing okay?" and suddenly, my entire body will fill up with hurt and anger. Of course I wasn't doing okay! I wondered why no one understood what I was going through. I had just lost one of my best friends, one of my closest family members next to my parents, and what I considered my "kindred spirit." One day, I suppose my mother saw me and the blank, empty, sad look in my eyes, and suggested to me that I try reading something to take my mind off of things. In my juvenile mind, I thought she was being ridiculous. How could reading do any good? Reading certainly couldn't bring my grandmother back, and stories had always been something the two of us had shared. It didn't feel right without her. My mother, persistent in her own loving way, handed me a book and told me that I had to read at least fifty pages, and that if I wanted to stop after fifty pages I could and she would never ask me to read again. I remember the book vividly. The vibrant green spine, the way the thing pages creased and crackled with every turn. This story was my escape. I was once again entranced by the worlds, the characters, and the wordy descriptions in each paragraph. After that, I never stopped reading. In time, I even found myself smiling and laughing again. After a year or two, I was able to re-read Anne of Green Gables without crying. Reading helped me go from grief, to joy. I think it was because of all of those stories that my grandma had shared with me, that I inevitably became a writer. One day, when I publish my first book, it will be dedicated to her memory, for without her influence, her love of stories, and her encouraging love for me, I would not be the person that I am today.
Reading Helped Me Escape from Grief content media

Jenna Grace Van Mourik

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