Guttering Candles

Some years ago I ended up with a book written by Harold Lamb containing a personal dedication to his mother. If you’re new to this site, or to me, you may not know that I spent some ten years or so tracking down Harold Lamb’s work and helping to bring it back to print. I happen to think he’s one of the greatest adventure writers these United States have ever seen, although he happens to remain pretty obscure.

Anyway, so there I was, looking at this dedication, which read something along the lines of “to my mother, who was so supportive of my first book, I present my tenth.” By the time that book came into my hands, Lamb, his mother, his wife, and his children were all dead, leaving none to come after. There were only the books, and me, holding this one, wondering how it had found its way here and thinking about the day he must have penned that note and presented it to her.

Lamb is gone, and so is almost all that mattered to him, and when I remember that moment I feel like I am sitting alone in a very large, dark room, near a single, guttering candle. But maybe that’s how all of us humans should feel a little more often, so we remember how precious is the light.