From the Founder and Director of the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival
Have you ever had the feeling of teetering but somehow knowing that a safety net was beneath you, ready to make sure you didn’t hit the ground?
This was the disorienting but ultimately comforting feeling I had in March and April of this year. I was hospitalized and in intensive care and yet knew that my friends and community would take care of me and my boys…and somehow make sure the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival would go on.
I had to hand over control to my husband, Paul, and to friends, and just focus on keeping myself alive for Jackson and Ben, my teenage sons. I don’t recommend falling ill, but for a means to learn to appreciate every breath we’re allowed, becoming vulnerable that way can’t be topped.
I entered the hospital for elective surgery on February 10th. My next memory was waking up to dozens of cards taped to my hospital wall. The cards were the only thing that held my attention–the only thing that made any sense. I recognized “Ossining Children’s Center” and read the message over and over again. And why did author Dan Gutman feel the need to write “get better soon?” I was flattered but also puzzled. How did he know where I was and how did he know I needed well wishes?
The date was March 1st and I had lost three weeks of my life. I had a tube coming out of my trachea. I couldn’t speak or lift my arm.
The cards and what they represented from the community ended up being a highlight of my days. My husband would drive to NYU Langone Hospital each afternoon, always with more cards. So many cards. He told me that two dear friends Karen Visser and Robin Chwatko were taking care of our kids, along with dozens of other friends jumping in to help, even coordinating walking our beloved dog Flare. Beloved merchants reached out too. The Kings’ Scribe was facilitating the cards and they never seemed to stop. I couldn’t count them all and still treasure each one.
Each day my husband would offer me my iphone, usually my umbilical cord, and I flat out declined it–a sign of just how sick I was. But he also knew I was worried about the festival and kept me current on book festival developments. Paul assured me that our volunteers were making sure it would happen in October. As the days went by toward my discharge of April 10th, I started to feel relief and excitement about getting back to real life.
Now, we’re three weeks away from the festival. I have gradually gotten stronger and feel incredibly optimistic about the future. The love that our community showed me that my family will be with me throughout the rest of my life. I will never stop being grateful.