When I was in 5th grade, I read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. It was perfect timing for me. I was approximately Meg’s age; I was a misfit, unpopular, and I had mousy brown hair that could not be styled for the life of me no matter what I tried. Her family was the kind of family I dreamed of. I loved the story and it was my first foray into sci fi/fantasy fiction which became my favorite genre.
Her parents both had PhDs.
At that time, I didn’t know what a PhD was. I had never heard of it. I had to look it up in an encyclopedia. The upshot was, I wanted one. At the age of 11, after reading this book, I had decided that I wanted a PhD. I already loved science, I loved school, I loved learning, it seemed natural to me.
And now, here I am.
Years later, I read the Crosswick Journals and I found out that A Wrinkle in Time was almost never published. No publishing company would take it. It was rejected over and over again and she had almost given up. I was stunned. My beloved book–a book I had read over and over again. A book that I actually have three copies of, with different publishing dates. A book that I can now be said to collect. THE book, THE reason I had ever even thought about going to graduate school at all almost never existed, except as an unpublished manuscript.
I always meant to write Ms. L’Engle to tell her how much that book meant to me. I don’t know if she ever would’ve gotten the letter, it’s not clear how much fan mail she got or how much she read. But, at least I would’ve attempted to tell her.
Now, I will never get that chance. She died last Thursday at the age of 88, of natural causes.
I want to weep. I never met her, she never knew I existed, yet her death fills me with sadness and a sense that so many possibilites are now lost forever. So many things that might have been will now never be.