On Reading, Books, and The Last Battle

Of the many sad things about Amanda dying, one of the cruelest is she can no longer read.

Amanda loves to read. Her parents will tell you that Amanda basically taught herself how to read when she’d play phonics records and practiced sounding out words. At a young age, her mom would buy her a book from a store in Burlington and she’d finish it by the time the car pulled into their driveway 45 minutes or so away.

The bookshelves in her room back in Cambridge, Vermont, and our home in Silver Spring are filled with many of her favorites. There’s too many to list here, but when we were dating she encouraged me to read Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.” It’s the best novel I’ve ever read.

So as I thought about how Amanda can no longer enjoy the pleasure of a book, I read to her some poems from Mary Oliver (a friend had given her the book of poems “Felicity” on a recent visit). We also finished listening to a recording of Lewis’ “The Last Battle.” Amanda had listened to the Narnia books during her recent hospital stay. She discussed with a friend, the same one who gave her Oliver’s poems, about how she always felt a bit jealous of Reepicheep when the little heroic mouse chooses to go to Aslan’s country in “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

We do see Reepicheep again at the end of The Last Battle as Aslan leads the characters back to the one true Narnia. The book ends:

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

(This blog post is written and posted by Amanda’s husband, Charles).

8 thoughts on “On Reading, Books, and The Last Battle

  1. We bid a tearful ’til we meet again’ to our sweet Mandy, as we know her last battle is nearing an end. The angels are waiting to escort Amanda to the one true Narnia. Your remarkable life has blessed us all, Amanda. Thanks to you both for sharing so beautifully and eloquently the last passage. Rest assured your family shall be wrapped in love and extra special care after you leave. Your impact on our lives and your legacy keep us close to you until we truly meet again. Please give Whitney and our babies hugs for us. We love you all.
    Stearns & Cyndy Allen

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  2. I just can’t even imagine Amanda not being able to read. That is one of my own personal fears about the end of my own life. So glad you both recently got to read “The Last Battle”. Lewis’ books get better and better the older I get and now when I read The Chronicles of Narnia certain passages have such meaning that they can’t help but bring tears. Continuing to pray for all of you!

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  3. Amanda and you are such an inspiration in my life. We have never met and yet you both have touched my life beyond measure. Charles, your mom and dad are friends of mine and I have had Amanda on my prayer list since the beginning of her journey. I continue to surround Amanda with the light of God . She has definitely been a precious gift in this life .

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  4. She knew how to enjoy life. There’s nothing like a good book. Thank you for reading to her…and for sharing that intimate holy experience with us. You two and your relationship have been a beautiful living out of the idea of soul mates.

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  5. Goodbye sweet lady!!! We prayed so often for your healing. God makes the final decisions so sadly for us, He needed you in Heaven!!! Sending Hugs to your family.

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  6. Charles,
    You don’t know me, and I only know Amanda by reading her articles in Nature Conservancy. Having lost my partner a few years ago to leukemia, I can relate. However, Amanda was 24 years younger than Anne, and your daughter still a young child. I would like to offer you my deepest wishes that you and your daughter heal well, and that life becomes happy and joyous again. Amanda will be watching and loving to see laughter.

    from Ventura, CA, Gene Rubin

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