The Long Goodbye
By: Meghan O'Rourke
Published by: Riverhead
Publication date: April 14, 2011
Memoir, 320 pages
This week's WoW is a very personal one for me. My mom died 9 years ago, at the far too young age of 55 and that loss and its accompanying grief isn't really something any of my friends can truly relate to. The Long Goodbye is the author's story of losing HER mom and I'm expecting...needing...to find a little bit of myself and my feelings in its pages.
What does it mean to mourn today, in a culture that has largely set aside rituals that acknowledge grief? After her mother died of cancer at the age of fifty-five, Meghan O’Rourke found that nothing had prepared her for the intensity of her sorrow. In the first anguished days, she began to create a record of her interior life as a mourner, trying to capture the paradox of grief-its monumental agony and microscopic intimacies-an endeavor that ultimately bloomed into a profound look at how caring for her mother during her illness changed and strengthened their bond.
O’Rourke’s story is one of a life gone off the rails, of how watching her mother’s illness-and separating from her husband-left her fundamentally altered. But it is also one of resilience, as she observes her family persevere even in the face of immeasurable loss.
With lyricism and unswerving candor, The Long Goodbye conveys the fleeting moments of joy that make up a life, and the way memory can lead us out of the jagged darkness of loss. Effortlessly blending research and reflection, the personal and the universal, it is not only an exceptional memoir, but a necessary one.