She was "more than four" she told me and from underneath a jaunty suede cap, she looked up at me with clear, sky-blue eyes that held more than a hint of mischievousness. "P.J." and I were seat mates on a plane bound for Nashville, with a long ride ahead. We shared some grapes and I noticed that among her books was, "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak. I asked her if she would like me to read it to her and soon we were immersed in the adventures of Max.
Now, if you have ever read this book to a anyone, you know that it is not an easy text. In fact, it is very cumbersome to read aloud because the text flows so abruptly from one page to another, while the illustrations beg to be lingered over. We soon found ourselves laughing over all of the strange foibles of Max and the Wild Things, pointing out their silly chicken feet and funny teeth. By the end of the story we were old friends -- one of the reasons I have always loved children's books and their ability to bring people together.
For a time, P.J. made me completely forget the discomforts of modern air travel and brought me solidly into the land of imagination and play, a place that often eludes us grown ups, particularly when we are jammed into child-sized seats. So, I want to thank P.J., wherever she may be, for being such a bright, sweet and intelligent child and even more so for the comment she made to me as she was leaving the plane.
Looking up from underneath her hat, she said with great seriousness, "I will remember you . . . forever." It touched my heart to its core. P.J., I want you know that I felt exactly the same way! Thank you for reminding us all to keep our hearts and minds open to possibility and that magic and laughter and love is everywhere around us, if only we choose to see it.
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