Opportunity lost

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 THE book, THE reason I had ever even thought about going to graduate school at all almost never existed, except as an unpublished manuscript.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.

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