When you’re a Librarian people tend to think you do one thing…mostly read books, or one of the following:
While I do a little bit of all of those and more, there is one thing people don’t usually think of when considering what Librarians do every day. We form relationships. We form bonds over good books and bad books. We get to know people, they get to know us, and then we get attached.
The downside to this? When a patron we’re close to passes away we take it hard.
Late this afternoon one of my regular patrons came in and asked if I knew Ms. L from down the road. Ms. L was a tough broad. She was loud and boisterous, and a ton of fun. She read a lot (a Librarians dream), and read whatever you handed her, but she would tell you if she didn’t like it. Ms. L had been battling cancer for years. She’d hit remission, but then it came back. I had noticed a decline in visits, and the last one was a couple of months ago. She went to visit her sister a couple states away.
Her doctor hadn’t given her long…but I didn’t realize it would be so soon. As soon as this patron asked if I knew her I had a sinking feeling. She said she died Monday, and that Ms. L’s husband wanted to make sure all her books came back. I told her Ms. L’s record was clear so she checked out her own books and left. I sat down and blinked back the tears. I get really attached to some patrons. Not all, and I mean they move away all the time, but for ones who you really liked and had formed a bond with…to have her die and there is no way for you to really say goodbye, well…damn, what do you do?
My boss got back from lunch and as I told her I just couldn’t blink them back anymore. So I cried for a minute before regaining my composure. Other patrons have died this year, some old age, some from accidents, but Ms. L was special to me and I know I was to her.
The last time I saw her we hugged and she felt so small…smaller than she should have. Maybe part of me knew, but didn’t want to admit what was coming. It’s hard to think about it without crying.
I suppose it comes with the territory though. Any time you get close to someone they could be gone in an instant.
I can’t go on much longer because I can only blink back so many tears. Ms. L, I’m going to miss the hell out of you. You were such a bright spot in my days at the library. I’m going to think about you often. Damn you cancer…you took a good one.