Spoiler Alert: Do not read unless you have read the entire Bronze Horseman series by Paullina Simons.
I can't even form sentences right now because I am just spent. I was finishing the book tonight and my husband looked over at me on the couch...and I caught him completely off guard with my red eyes. I made two trips to the bathroom for tissues before finally conceding and bringing the box into the family room. And not over war...or death...or people starving in the streets of Leningrad. No, Carol has to cry herself to sleep over Thanksgiving dinner. And bread. (oh god I'm starting again). And an 80 year old man who loves his wife so much that he grabs her and kisses her in the pantry so as to have a second alone with her amidst dinner preparations in their chaotic but deliriously happy life.
This series got to me like no other. I love reading about history...but when the history is so recent that it's something my own parents lived through...it truly envelopes my soul and refuses to let go.
What am I crying over now? My grandmother. Baking. The way she used to knead that dough and roll the cinnamon and butter in it...and let me sneak tastes because I was 6 years old and couldn't take my eyes off her...or her sticky buns.
A little background... My grandmother was born in Naples in 1907 and brought to the US as a young girl. In 1922, when she was 15 years old, she was married off to a 23 year old man she had met only once. She had her first baby when she was 16...her last when she was 31...and celebrated 71 wedding anniversaries before losing the only love she ever knew when he was 94...and her own life a few years later when she was 89.
It wasn't Leningrad...and she didn't have a husband who went to war. But she took care of everyone and was the thread that held my father's family together - through thick and thin. So in a small way, I am reminded of my grandmother tonight. I can't remember the last time I was able to feel her so vividly in my mind.
That is what Tatiana has done for me. That is what Alexander has brought to me. They have made me look at my life - in all its mundane madness - and appreciate the creaks in my floorboards and the island in my kitchen. The one whose counter I will clean a million times tomorrow due to stray crayons and sticky fingers.
As far as the books go, I can't even begin to talk about everything Tatiana and Alexander went through ...because I am a blubbering idiot right now and there is no way I'm able to give them their proper credence. (Also because my bed is calling to me from upstairs and my husband - like Alexander - is wondering what the heck I'm doing down here so late.)
I must say this: I could not have loved the end of the book/series any more than I do. Christie - et al - you were so, so right. My absolute thanks to Paullina for keeping Tania and Shura alive at the end...because now they will forever be alive in my memory.
Now if you'll excuse me, I really must hit the hay. I have a lot of googling to do tomorrow...Leningrad being the first order of business...and PaullinaSimons.com being the 2nd. :)