Friday, February 29, 2008

An Hour to Live, an Hour to Love

I always enjoy book stores. Somehow, a sense of peace and serenity always wash over me with a secret hush whenever I'm surrounded by rows and rows of books. My paradise of tranquility.

Today, as usual, I stole a moment to walk into a quaint little bookshop right in the hustle and bustle of city life. The cool air-conditioning in the shop slowly dried the mild afternoon sweat off my forehead. My eyes began to wander hungrily over the many titles of magazines and books galore. My head tilted left and right, scanning the covers for topics that might peak my interest or steal my attention.

And then suddenly, there it was... a little, thin book, propped quietly on a high shelf, with a very interesting title. I couldn't resist picking it up immediately. My fingers yearning to feel the touch of its beautiful jacket. I ran them over the embossed lettering. "An Hour to Live, an Hour to Love" by Richard Carlson and Kristine Carlson.

I gasped. I quickly turned the book over to read the many reviews listed on the back cover. And then my heart stopped beating for a moment. A stillness descended upon me. I felt the nearness of truth. Of love. My eyes fell upon these words...

"On their 18th wedding anniversary, in 2003, Richard Carlson (author of the bestselling Don't Sweat the Small Stuff) presented his wife, Kristine, with a short manuscript called An Hour to Live. He imagines he has an hour to live and poses questions originally asked by spiritual guide and author Stephen Levine: whom would you call? what would you say? and why are you waiting? Uncannily, the text foreshadowed Carlson's death three years later, at age 45, of a pulmonary embolism. Though he had no chance to make that last phone call, his wife (and the reader) already knows his feelings for her and their children. We also know what was important to him, which boils down to the old chestnut: no one, on their deathbed, ever wishes they'd spent more time at the office. Included in the book is Kristine's tribute to Richard, called An Hour to Love. Both pieces (only 50 pages and padded with Richard's favorite poem and blank pages for the reader's own answer to the key question) are heartfelt—and oddly unengaging. They tell the reader how wonderful the Carlsons' marriage was, but don't show why. We are left with a lovely ideal—too ideal for readers to relate to. (Jan. 15) - by Publishers Weekly."

"Richard Carlson, so beloved to many of us, writes to his own true love from a place somewhere between life and death. The love with which he writes to her, and the love with which she answers, provide a teaching for all of us: on life, on death, and on the existence of a spirit that transcends them both. - by Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love and The Age of Miracles."

I felt my eyes well up with tears, my throat tightened and my heart crying again. The remembrance of Mad. He was so loved by many, too. A very wise old man once asked me the same question. "If you only have 24 hours left to live, what would you do?"

I couldn't afford to purchase that book just now. I forced myself to return it in its place on the high shelf whilst promising to myself that I will be returning to that quaint little shop to make that precious treasure mine. My girls have already negotiated their turns at reading it. I end this writing for now. I shall make my next entry after I have savored the deliciousness of reading "An Hour to Live, an Hour to Love".


Ms Ulat Buku said...

Hi Kak Jo, I also came across this book yesterday at MPH. I read it in one seating. Warning: You'll need tissue by the boxes. Its a good read and a great reminder of what we should treasure most in life.

Johana Dato' Johari said...

Thanks, Ms Ulat Buku. I've actually read that book after this blog entry. It only took me 20 minutes to finish it. Yes, I was crying buckets. But after that, my courage to blog about my true feelings had been somewhat compromised. I only began to truly write from my heart from April's "A Step Back, A Leap Forward." And yes, I am still grieving...