Subscribe to SLJ
Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Moving On — Craig Virden’s Memorial Service

Yesterday I Felt the Other Side of Changing — A Sense of History, Connection, and Possibility

The memorial for Craig was held yesterday in New York City. I arrived by train, and met one old friend of his on the platform. Another got in the subway with us when we got to the city. We arrived at the site and several more were gathered there on the street — including several people I first worked with in the 1980s, and have hardly seen in twenty years. Yet another friend called me over, she retired last year. As the crowd filled in, we saw people whose links to children’s books and publishing began in the 70s, the 60s, even perhaps the 50s. 

The speakers did a wonderful job of capturing Craig — how present and alive he always was — making you feel special, extra-ordinary, how he was genuinely interested in you and your work, and yet also a savvy, alert, businessman. There was some fine music. In effect Craig was there — the event really was him, was appropriate and done with a kind of clarity and skill that also reminded me of him. But it was also the reverse of what I wrote about when I learned of his passing — that sense of loss, abrupt change. Because, like some living Facebook page, all of the broken links of life were, for this time, in this space, reconnected.

Craig and his wife Nancy were fine hosts, they loved to have people over for food, for drinks, for kids running around and having fun. And so finally his memorial was one more grand party. He connected all of us again. Well done Craig, once again. And maybe, too, well done everyone — those who’ve lost jobs, who were once heads of this or that — I saw all of them there, like great trees which had been toppled in a storm. Some were sad, many still angry. Yet I also heard of little new growths, the start of new careers, new businesses, new ideas about children and reading and books and stories. I saw the other side of change, where letting go of the past, even a wonderful past, is also the hesitant, uncertain, fragile, beginning of the future. 

Meeting together showed us that the past is not lost. We are still linked even as we move on. And in fact we are moving on.