(Passing out copies of my book at the hospital)
When I was 12-years-old my Mom was diagnosed with Leukemia. Almost every night after school my Dad would take me and my siblings to the St. Vincent’s Hospital to visit her. Until that point we’d never spent more than a couple nights away from her, now we were lucky to get an hour with her before we had to head home to do our homework. The time we spent at the hospital with her became incredibly precious.
That's why I decided to give my World Book Night books away at that same St. Vincent's Hospital. I thought about how wonderful it would have been to receive an unexpected book while sitting in a waiting room counting the minutes until a doctor or nurse wrapped up a check-up. I thought about the days we sat in waiting rooms anxious to hear about how she was doing and wishing we could think about anything else, just for a moment.
(St. Vincent's Hospital where I passed out my World Book Night books)
I have so many memories of that hospital. For two years my Mom spent weeks at a time in the oncology center. She would go in for chemotherapy and bone marrow test and we would cover her hospital room walls with our drawings and signs. I have wonderful memories of trying on dresses for my eighth-grade graduation in the hospital room bathroom and modeling them for my Mom. I have horrible memories of seeing her behind a clear glass wall, unable to touch her because her immune system was compromised. Once I even spent the night there, in a chair beside her bed, eating pudding cups while we played backgammon.
(Picking up my WBN Giver box at a Barnes and Noble)
Choosing this location for my very first time giving World Book Night books was deeply personal. As I passed out copies of “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” to tired nurses at the end of their shifts and family members visiting their loved ones I remembered my mom. I thought about how kind my Mom’s nurses had been to me. They did everything they could to make us feel welcome and comfortable. I thought about how this story of a mother and daughter might bring a smile to the faces of some of those nurses.
Most of all I thought about how much my Mom would love the concept of a night to celebrate reading. She was an avid reader and she taught me to love reading from a young age. She encouraged me to choose books that challenged me and made me think, not just “bubblegum books” as she called them. She even helped me write my speech for my eighth grade speech competition about the dangers of illiteracy. After fighting it for two years my Mom lost her battle with cancer in 1998. I am so proud to have been a part of World Book Night and I think my Mom would have been incredibly proud of the part she played in it as well.Photos by moi.