Tuck Everlasting and I have something pretty special in common, we’re both forty years old. Now while I can only hold on to that number for a few more weeks, Tuck is just beginning the celebration. When I look at this book, I am beyond frustrated that I waited so long to read it. Obviously, I could have picked it up when I was growing up. However, I was more likely to be dreaming of life on the prairie with Laura or of wandering around Prince Edward Island with Anne. Fantasy books were not for me, or so I thought. Imagine my surprise when I became a teacher and began to dip my toe into the world of fantasy. I was mesmerized. As a new teacher, I devoured fantasy books. One day I found this gem of a book and knew what I had been missing for all of these years. I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone I knew.
If you, like me, have put off reading this book, remedy that immediately. Here you stumble across the typical fifth grader’s ultimate wish, to live forever. It would be the best thing ever, right? Winnie Foster gets to uncover that answer when she meets the Tuck Family. For them, eternal life is their reality. This book delves into the question on whether living forever would really be something you should wish for. I was fascinated with the entire concept.
And, like others on this blog tour to celebrate Tuck’s 40th, I needed to answer the question, would I live forever if I could? I knew my answer immediately… absolutely not.
Many people know that I struggle with anxiety. A trigger for me is illnesses and even the thought of death. In fact, much of my anxiety began when a loved family member was in the hospital in ICU. Knowing that, one would think I would choose to live forever. That would be the dream, would it not?
A lot has happened since that time several years ago. I’ve lost many beloved family members and some friends. I’ve watched students lose parents and parents lose children. Death is a horrible part of life, but it is a part of our life. To know you would never die? How would that change everything?
Here’s the thing, I love life. Love it! Now if my magical wish could allow everyone I love to live a good long and healthy life? I would be on board with that in a heartbeat. But a magical water that would just allow me to have eternal life, no thanks. I couldn't bear to watch students, family, and friends, pass on each year without me. Our lives are precious because they are fragile. They are ours. And while some parts of our lives are out of our hands, other parts we are in complete control of. I often tell my students when they are wrestling with indecision about a choice, “You have one life, how are you going to choose to live it?”
As the years have passed and I have reflected, I’ve realized that I don’t fear death quite as much as I used to. What I do fear is an unlived life. Natalie Babbit wrote in Tuck Everlasting, “Don't be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live.” And that is just what I have tried to do, live. I try not to let anxiety hold me back. I try and be as kind as I can, give as much as I can, and treasure the time I have here. I try and find beauty in the everyday and pleasure in the things around me – like sunrises and sunsets, the laughter of a child, the quiet sigh of happiness of my dog. And I try my hardest to pass that attitude on to my children and my students. It is through them that I gain life after I am gone, a legacy.
I hope you will join me—and others—in celebrating this magical book. Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #Tuck40th. Order the amazing anniversary edition with a forward by Gregory Maguire (wow!) HERE. And live your life to the fullest.