This morning a package arrives by UPS. Without looking at the return address I open it. In the box are ten copies of The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden. I was not expecting this shipment until later in the week. Phoenix Color, the printing company used by Seraphic Press has been incredibly cooperative. When I asked them if they could move up the printing date so I could have the books in the stores before Chanukah, they graciously obliged me. Copies can be ordered online by the weekend of Nov. 13 at Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.com or purchased at your local bookstore. If they don’t have it on their shelves, they can order it. The ISBN # is: 0-9754382-1-2. Karen and I insisted on producing a handsome and durable volume. The pages are Smythe sewn, not glued, and so the book lies flat when read. We used gold foil on the actual cover, as did all fine books in the olden days. The paper we printed on is non acidic and has a lovely antique sheen. Every chapter has a lovely illustration. When I was a child I loved books that were illustrated. Before I looked at the pictures, I visualized images in my mind, and delighted in comparing what I imagined with what was drawn by the artist. I can still vividly remember several illustrations from books I treasured as a child.
The question is: why am I so sad?
We have worked so hard to publish this book. We have poured our hearts and souls into Seraphic Press. I should feel like celebrating.
The questions is: Why do I feel hollow?
Karen steps into my office. She sees the look on my face and she understands. Her comprehension reaches out and caresses me like a soft hand. “It’s because Ariel isn’t here to enjoy it with us, right?”
I nod and add: “It’s also because The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden would not exist if Ariel had not become ill. Seraphic Press would not exist if he had not died. This is the quandary. How can I be happy?”
“I believe that Ariel had a hand in creating this book,” Karen says. “Look how beautiful it has turned out. Ariel was helping us. He’s been looking out for us and this company. After all, we’re first time publishers, we had no idea what we were doing when we started out. Stop being so hard on yourself, Robert. This book is a wonderful memorial for our son.”
Tears leak from Karen’s eyes. We stay like this for a long moment, holding each other, holding the book.
Karen adds: Last night, which I imagine as the book’s birthday, I felt Ariel’s presence more intensely than ever. I felt like I had entered a new stage, which was both piercing with its sadness, but wonderful, because I felt close to Ariel. I could imagine looking directly into his eyes, sharing a feeling, a smile. It was if the intimacy we had was finally returning. I don’t know why this happened. Was it a spiritual manifestation? I don’t know, but I do know that I welcomed those tears. They were sweet, copious and liberating.