It is always sad when someone dies. A light is taken from the world and a voice is quieted.
Sometimes the person who has left the world has left a mark so substantial it is felt by thousands upon that person’s passing.
I feel like that has happened with the death of Miss Harper Lee.
Most widely known for her amazing and moving novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” Lee has lived a private life.
Now I will be the first to admit that when I read “To Kill a Mockingbird” in high school I did not like it.
I thought it was boring, played out and obvious. Yes, of course the man did not kill that person just because he is African-American.
Of course it is wrong to judge a person based on their appearance including, but not limited to, skin colour.
I was, however, a fool hearty teenager who was much more enamored with action and daring do’s rather than a political and ethical piece about race and following the norms of a population.
As I grew up, and left high school, I took another chance on the book that I pretty much hated in high school.
Now in my defense, the only thing I read in my high school English class that I actually liked was the works by Shakespeare.
After giving the book a second chance I saw something in it’s pages that I hadn’t seen there before.
Yes, it was still about a young girl who looks up to her father with hero worship in her eyes.
It was still about not discriminating against others who look differently.
But, what I found was something more within it’s pages. I like to think I found Lee in the ink stained, dog eared pages of the used book I found at the university book store.
The book meant more now that I was reading the book for pleasure rather than necessity.
Lee grew up in a world where what happened in the book actually happened around her.
Segregation was a part of everyday life.
That is what she grew up knowing and yet she wrote this insightful book that is so much more than what it seems.
Scout is growing up to be more than what her situation and the opinions of the population wants her to be.
She is inquisitive, and tough. She is kind and thoughtful.
In a time when women did not have much rights and were thought of a lesser people, Atticus taught his daughter to be more.
Lee gave the world a story about being more and coming to terms with the cruelty of the world while trying to make it better.
And this book went on to touch the lives of people all over the world. She had something to say, a story to be told and she did.
Lee is an inspirational figure, to me at least.
To grow up and be more than your surroundings is a wonderful thing. To use that to each people to be better is astounding.
Later I learned “To Kill a Mockingbird” is not the story she originally wanted to tell, but I am very glad that she did.
After hearing about her death I went through my mountain of books to try and find that old dog-eared copy I bought years before.
I could not find my old copy, I fear it is buried much to deep within the mountain. That is something I will have to address at a later, probably much later, date.
Instead I turned to the internet. I found a digital copy online and spent my weekend reading. It wasn’t the same as my old copy, but it still hit the spot.
I revisited a story I once hated and thought was boring but now felt an aching endearment to.
Lee wrote what she saw and what she knew, and because of that she crafted a novel, though fictional, thsthas had a profound effect on so many.
If I ever get the courage to write that novel my fingers are always itching to write I hope I can deliver it with as much poise and inelegance as Lee crafted hers.
Maybe one day, when I sit down to type my first ever novel, I will have my old copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird” on my desk, right next to my picture of me meeting Stan Lee and my equally worn copy of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, to remind me to write what I know, and to be brave.
Thank you Miss. Lee for teaching the world to be more, to be better.
Thank you, and good bye.