Maurice Sendak died today.
I was never the child obsessed with Where the Wild Things Are. Like every kid born after its publication, I knew the story. Had it read to me in school, saw it on Reading Rainbow. But I was not a fan of rumpuses. I did like Little Bear. He was quiet, and funny, and had a big imagination that didn’t put him in (much) danger. Tellingly, Mr. Sendak only illustrated him, he did not write him.
But when I was a senior in undergrad, the movie of Where the Wild Things Are came out. My best friend Sonya—who was a Wild Thing, as a child and later—organized a group adventure to a midnight showing. I remember insisting on buying her food before the show, because I knew she was broke and hadn’t eaten. This was what we did. She dragged my bookish self out into the world. I fed her.
I was in pain during the movie, from an infection in my leg. Twenty-four hours later, I was hospitalized.
Although my roommate took me to the hospital, it was Sonya who brought Chinese food up for our annual viewing of Hocus Pocus. She picked me up when I got released a week later. She saved me from the ER one late night after my PICC line malfunctioned—yelling at her dad that she needed the keys “Because Chelsey had to go to the hospital, and I need to go get her and make sure she gets to eat!”
We went from the Children’s Hospital to our favorite sushi place at ten-thirty at night.
During this whole event, every time she had to drop me off at the dorms, or leave the hospital at the end of visiting hours my refrain was this:
“Please don’t go. I’ll eat you up, I love you so.”
Two years ago today, she said the same thing to me on my graduation day.
I did go. I moved to Boston, and I don’t see her nearly enough. Today, though, when the creator of the book she adores has left the world, all I can think about what love and friendship is. It’s making sure your loved one is warm and fed after their wild rumpuses.