Cherylcan's Blog

Life and Literature

The Long Goodbye, a memoir by Meghan O’Rourke

I must admit. My mother is still alive and well. I truly appreciate and love her so much more after reading this loving remembrance of a mother lost. The loss of all of my grandparents and great-grandparents gave me an empathy for O’Rourke’s loss. Yes I know I am lucky to have known them but as stated in the book it does not make the loss any less.

O’Rourke shares a powerful memoir. It is very personal story from the discovery of her mother’s colorectal cancer, through treatment, hospice care, death and the fifteen months after. Both her intellectual and emotional responses ring true and poignant. I find her so courageous to open herself up to the world like she has. I could identify with her experience in places but in other places I could not relate. Growing up where I did, we still had rituals for loss. The whole community would gather for a wake or funeral. Even today I still miss the small parish of my youth for that sense of community acceptance. Everyone knew who you were and where you came from. Confining at times, yes, but comforting especially during times of uncertainty and loss.

I am so glad that Penguin Group Canada had a twitter contest that day. I have recently rediscovered a love of memoir writing. All I really knew about the book was the promotional material. I am so happy to have discovered a new author. I will have to look up her poetry. In the book, O’Rourke’s father refers to the Egyptian thought of two versions of time:  “one linear, and one cyclical, one ritualisti, one everyday. ” The idea that to deal with death we have to push back the everyday and make space in your life for reflection. “Stepping out of everyday time” will stay with me for a long time. The candor that O’Rourke brings to her experience is what makes this book one that I will recommend to family and friends. The first person I plan to give it to is my own mother.

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