Page 7 of 11
The Long Goodbye Meghan O'Rourke
I understand that first I recommended Sophie's Choice
and now I'm recommending a memoir written about the death of O'Rourke's mother and that these might not seem like appropriate summertime reads, but, well, even as a teenager I read things like Night
and We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families
while on vacation, so I don't feel like these are abnormal in the slightest. Also, it has been my experience that bad things happen in the summer. People die. And it is never a bad thing to read about someone else's grief in order to help you to understand your own. O'Rourke's lovely, heartbreaking memoir does just that. She allows that she "may sound melodramatic" in the telling of how she deals with not only her mother's diagnosis with advanced cancer and her subsequent physical decline, but also the aftermath of her mother's death. O'Rourke is a poet and scholar and finds solace in the literature of grief, an all too familiar thing for anyone else who has ever mourned a love one. The book itself is beautifully composed, with the requisite beginning and middle and end, but O'Rourke's grief, and indeed the universal grief of losing a loved one, is reflected in how O'Rourke describes the concept of a maternal figure: "A mother," she writes, "is a story with no beginning. That is what defines her." And mourning, it seems, is a story with no end.