Joyce had just received news that her mother died. Alone, with two young children and amongst the happy bustle of kid’s free play at the Thomas Memorial Library, Joyce felt the room begin to spin. She swallowed hard and tightly gripped the bookshelf beside her. She took deep, purposeful breaths to try and redirect the waves of shock and grief about to engulf her. “I shouldn’t cry,” she thought, as she took a moment to look down and see her son pulling on her pant leg asking repeatedly, “read book?” Before Joyce could think of an answer, her son was gone. Another mom had gently taken her son by the hand and begun reading a book aloud to him and her older daughter on the library couch. Saturated with relief for a moment of privacy, Joyce turned to face the window and cried.
Later that morning, Joyce introduced herself and thanked the mom who had kindly intervened and read books to her children during that most important time. Feeling humbled and sensing this person wouldn’t mind Joyce welled up in tears and told the woman all about her mother’s passing. This new friend had lost her mom, too, a few years back and they fell deep into conversation. The two women laughed, cried, and had their first of many long, genuine, loving, and memorable library visits. Now two years later they have developed a close, loving, and supportive friendship. They meet at the library at least once a week with their children to attend library art, science, story, and music programs, play in the children’s area, do chalk outside, read, and enjoy each other’s company. To Joyce, the Thomas Memorial Library isn’t just an enriching place for her children to spend time; it’s where she goes to enjoy the company and support of her best friend.
Whether in book clubs, the knitting group, attending music concerts, hearing interesting speakers, participating in story time, or engaging in conversation by the fish tank, friendships are started and strengthened at Thomas Memorial Library everyday. The library is a vital gathering place for meeting new people and building relationships in our community.
Jennifer Bodenrader wrote up this true story about Joyce (a pseudonym for privacy reasons). Jennifer is a member of the Thomas Memorial Library Storytelling Committee.