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  • Writer's pictureMo Reynolds

Putting Out Fires and Brewing Some Tea

I had a dear college friend walk through colon cancer a few years ago. I decided to start writing her letters, a one way pen pal exchange. I had no expectations of her writing me back. She had enough on her plate.

At first, I wondered if I should fill my missives with encouraging words, quotations, and general "Go get 'em" language. But, that felt wrong.

Instead, I droned on about my days, laundry, books I was reading, probably things my kids were doing that only I thought were cool. Completely uninspiring stuff.

But, according to her it was exactly the kind of anti-inspiration she needed. I found the same surprise when I wrote similar letters to my mother in law after my father in law's sudden passing.


Because normalcy is comforting. When you are wrestling with one of life's unwieldy tigers, there is something calming about the reminder that people are still buying milk, writing tooth fairy notes, and solving crossword puzzles. Perhaps it gives us hope that someday, when our struggles settle a bit, we might go back to ho-hum life as well.

The Last Bookshop in London reminded me of two things:

  1. The British were absolutely astounding in WWII.

  2. Storytelling is humanity's heartbeat.

Bombs explode.

People get cancer.

Babies die.

Divorces happen.

Through it all, the sun rises, we breathe in and out, and stories march on. We share stories as we share breath. We read to feel less alone. We have to believe that people solve their problems, survive their fires, and come out better.

Is this book a little over the top? Yes.

Are the characters rather one dimensional? For sure.

It wrapped up kind of quickly and the author was caught philosophizing a bit more than storytelling from time to time. Still, at its beating heart was a lovely story about the courage it takes to keep at it, to brave the storm and to simply keep making tea and celebrating what you can as the world crumbles around you.

If you are looking for a Tolstoy-esque read, this isn't for you. If you are on the search for a heartwarming (and heartbreaking) story about human resilience and the power of connecting through story, pick it up right away.

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