Book Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
Winter 2018-2019: Recap, Part One, or My Belated Thoughts on Christmas

Thoughts on Missing Nathan

This kid…right now he is my inspiration. I suspect he will be for many years.

I miss him. I miss him so much.

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I miss him teasing me about how much cheese is in the fridge. Yesterday I counted: 10. Swiss, mozerella, asiago, two kinds of parmesan, Romano, sharp cheddar, white cheddar, Muenster, jack. Ten different kinds of cheese and no Nathan to tease me about it.

I miss speaking Spanish with him. His grammar is better than mine and I remember different words than he does, so most of the time we talk in circles, using synonyms and almost-words and a few gestures until we start laughing and explain our thinking in English.

I miss seeing him sitting at the kitchen counter, drawing something. I miss having someone who’s excited when I tell him about buying three new colors of Copics. In fact, the fact that none of my Copics are missing right now, they’re all in their places instead of a few in the kitchen drawer and a few in his bedroom and the aqua one in his backpack: that makes me miss him, too.

I miss gathering up his laundry. (Yes, I know: he’s 19. Why was I still doing his laundry? Not because he asked me to. He could do it on his own. But it felt like one of the last services I could do for him, so I didn’t mind.)

I miss the obscene amounts of groceries I’d have to buy to keep him fed.

I miss him talking to me, and laughing with me, and knowing exactly when I needed a hug. Even if I was acting like I didn’t need a hug.

I miss him.

But he’s sending letters. And ever since I was in fourth grade and had a pen pal from Sweden, I’ve loved getting mail. Every time I check the mailbox I am hopeful there will be another letter in his handwriting, and about every week, or every ten days, there is one. Once three letters came at the same time.

I can tell…he is changing. He is learning and meeting new people and having experiences.

But he’s also still Nafe, still funny and caring.

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In his letters I’ve learned that he is always cold and always freezing. Yes, he’s in the south. But it’s still chilly there, and it’s a humid coldness. He’s not used to that, and plus, he’s like me, he gets cold easily anyway. He misses the smell of the clothes I washed for him, he misses me doing his laundry.

And that is how he is inspiring me. When I’m out hiking or running and I’m cold, I think “but Nathan’s probably colder, and he has to be cold all day, so I will keep going.” I finish my run, I hike longer than I had intended, I take a little bit of his courage and use it in the small ways of my life.

When I’m feeling lazy and thinking “maybe I’ll just get a pizza for dinner,” I think about Nathan being hungry all the time, and missing my cooking, and it inspires me to cook for Kendell, Kaleb, and Jake.

And…this is probably silly. But I have two of his sweatshirts. They’re way too big for me but so comfy. So I don’t have any laundry, really, to do for Nathan. But I still wear his sweatshirts, and wash them, and remember that he is grateful for that little service I did for him. Wearing his big maroon sweatshirt helps me miss him just a little bit less. It makes me feel less discouraged about the kind of mother I was. It inspires me to be better, to watch for other little ways I can help Kaleb and Jake and Haley. It reminds me that family relationships are built with time and effort and that while I have never been a perfect mom, I have tried, and then I start crying a little bit, there in my laundry room, because I love him and I love all of my kids so much and I’m just so grateful I got to be their mom.

I’m in my laundry room crying and he’s out in the world. He’s learning and changing and making other relationships. My influence on his life will continue to be less.

But, this kid. I have a feeling that he will inspire me, not just now, but for the rest of my life.



Beautiful! Take care of your heart and give yourself lots of grace while you work through this tough time.

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