Monday, September 10, 2007


What a loss the world has suffered this week with the passing of Madeleine L'Engle. She has been my favorite author for many years. Her Crosswicks Journal series is at the top of my list of most-loved work from her. I have some tapes of talks she's given at writers' conferences, and though I've listened to them multiple times, they never cease to inspire me anew every time I hear them.

I had the pleasure of hearing her in person, as well, and at one such event I got to meet her. This is where I tell my funny Madeleine L'Engle story. She was speaking at a local university one day, both morning and in the afternoon. However, I was only able to be at the morning session. Following her morning talk, she was signing autographs, and I stood in line waiting my turn with a friend. Just as I got to the front of the line, her assistant apologized and said that Madeleine was done signing, she needed to eat lunch, but would be back in the afternoon to sign again.

I'm not a pushy person by nature, but I think I offered a fairly pathetic whimper and explained to the assistant that I could not be there later in the day and I loved Madeleine just so, so much and could she pleeeeease just squeeze me in? (I'm not sure I whined like that out loud, but it's what I was thinking inside.) The assistant motioned to me and said, "Follow us." She whisked Madeleine out of the lecture hall and down a corridor as quickly as she could go (this was shortly before she went in for knee surgery, so moving quickly wasn't so easy for her), not to her awaiting lunch but instead to the ladies' room, which was apparently what Madeleine was needing more than food at that moment. Once inside the bathroom, Madeleine very graciously took my copy of "Two-Part Invention," asked my name and autographed the book for me. I thanked her (and her assistant!) profusely and then left her to her business.

This all happened so quickly that I didn't have time to be embarrassed about it all until after I'd left the bathroom. I'd just stalked Madeleine L'Engle to the toilet. At least she was kind about it. :)

I'll miss you, Madeleine.

1 comment:

Denise said...

Sigh. Me too.

With much effort in the pre-internet days, I searched out Madeleine's office at St. John the Divine, having never been in NYC on my own, in the mid-1980's, but she was out of town that week!

I also heard her speak, but it was like you, not an opportunity for more than gushing thankfulness. Later, I've known so many friends-of-Madeleine, close ones, and I feel silly I haven't high-tailed it down to Connecticut to really MEET her.

May this inspire me to be bold about the next favorites on my list, the others I don't want to miss.