This is a “blow-away-soon” that my daughter built for me a couple of years ago.

When she was young we moved up to New England, and we’d come across these stone sculptures while hiking. Sometimes they would just be rocks piled one upon another, but other times there would be little treasures tucked in among the stack. We would ask people what they meant, but no one seemed to know the story behind them.

Then one rainy afternoon we discovered a little book shop that was housed in a lovely old colonial home. We wandered around, and started talking about the rocks again. An older woman came up to us and placed a book in my daughter’s hand. The book was Blow Away Soon by Betsy James. We read it many times, and enjoyed building our own blow-away-soon together over the years. My daughter is almost 20 years older than the first first time we read the book, but she’s held onto it. Who knows, maybe one day she’ll build a blow-away-soon with her own children and tell them the following story.

We climb and climb, until the sky is wide all over. There’s nothing here- just air and that’s what wind is made of.
Nana says, “Sophie, can you find a good big stone?”
“Here’s one.”
“Perfect. Now put another stone on top of it. Then another, and another. Build it tall.”
“Is that all?” I ask. “That’s a blow-away-soon? That’s easy.”
“The hard part’s this,” says Nana. “You have to ask yourself: What shall I give the the wind for her to blow away?”

Sophie places grass, sand and a feather on the blow-away-soon.

“Is that everything?” asks Nana.
I put my hand in my pocket. I uncurl my fingers. The shell is cool and small.
“I could give her this,” I say.
But I don’t want to. It’s my shell. It’s all that’s left of an old sea.
The wind blows. Nana puts her arms around me.
“Sophie,” she says, “some things blow away, but some things stay. Some things are to let go of, but others are to keep for a long time.”
I look down at the shell in my hand.
Nana asks, “Is there anything you’d like to keep even more than that shell?”
“You,” I say. “I want you to live forever.”
I put my shell on the blow-away-soon. “The wind can have that,” I say.

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