Yesterday I finished reading “Charlotte’s Web” to you. The sad part of the book was approaching and I wrestled the lump in my throat until it sat low where it could not possibly escape. It matters little that I read this book every year, E.B. White’s writing gets me every single time. I loved this book as a kid and, if it’s possible, I love it even more as an adult.
I was doing a fine job of keeping that lump down and my eyes were only watering a little bit as I read about Wilbur leaving Charlotte to die alone. Hang on a sec, I just need to stop typing and get a tissue. Ahem. Anyway, I was doing a decent job of keeping things under control until I heard a sob from your direction. I looked over and saw tears dribbling from your brown eyes, down your cheeks, and onto your desk. In a quivering voice you said, “It’s just so sad, Mrs. McCauley, it’s just so sad.” I could not agree more, Little One. You got up to get a tissue and several girls followed, dabbing at their eyes. The little boys wiped their eyes on shirtsleeves and for a minute we just sat there in our sadness. I waited, pushing that lump back down, brushing my tears away with my fingertips. I waited until we were all done blowing our noses and wiping our eyes. And then I read on until we reached the happy end when the spiderlings hatch and life renews itself. We talked about the book and moved on with our afternoon, but you were too sad to sing, too sad to do math, too sad to read any other books. You put your head down and I rubbed your back when I walked by your desk. Later you took out your notebook and drew spider webs.
Today we watched the movie Charlotte’s Web. Before we watched it, we talked about how it’s okay to cry when you’re sad. You and some of the others pulled out wads of tissue before the movie began. And just in case I needed it, you stuffed a tissue in my hand, too. The movie made us laugh and cry. And it was good. During the movie, you wrote in your notebook. You wrote about how much you love Charlotte. You drew her dangling from her web and told me about how she still lives in your heart.
Little One, I love that you wear your heart on your sleeve. I love that you are moved by the written word. I love that you work your sadness out with a pencil and paper. To paraphrase a certain spider, you are some kid. Long after you leave first grade, long after you graduate high school, long after you raise children of your own, I will remember this day because you, Little One, will still live in my heart.