Several weeks ago I attended a talk my famed children's writer Lois Lowry. She's a prolific writer with many, many wonderful books, the most famous of which is The Giver.
In her talk she spoke about her childhood and showed us a grainy photo of herself on a beach in Hawaii as a very little girl. The sky looked hazy and we focused on her, the famous lady as a child. Her father had been in the military and was stationed in Hawaii for a brief time. Just after the photo was taken their family moved away.
She moved on and spoke of other things, including the premise for the book The Giver, about a society that is sheltered from all the ill and evil and discomforts of the world as we know it. In their society there is no war and illness and the memories of those things are held only by the receiver of memories, the job that is assigned to the young protagonist (Jonas) of the story. It is a beautiful book, one of my favorites. There is a new gift addition available here.
So Lois Lowry told us of her life, some experiences she'd had, and of her books and her writing. Then, at the very end, she returned to the photo of her as a very little girl on the beach in Hawaii. She pointed it out, in the haze, on the horizon just behind her: an outline of the U.S.S. Arizona. The photo had been taken just a couple of months before the day that will live in infamy: December 7, 1941. The juxtaposition of the happy family at the beach and the ship that would soon lie sunk at the bottom of Pearl Harbor with tremendous loss of life was both poignant and startling. Lois Lowry didn't live in Hawaii anymore on December 7th. Her family had moved and were living on the mainland. Lois Lowry pointed out that in a book such as The Giver, society would have no memory of something as violent and horrific as the attack on Pearl Harbor and the war that rattled the world. And yet, the terrible moments shape us just as the wonderful moments do.
We are not one without the other.
We cannot be.