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The Long Goodbye by Meghan O'Rourke

Updated: Mar 11, 2022

2011, Riverhead Books

Meghan O'Rourke recounts the loss of her mother who was only 55, and the long grieving process which followed. Reading this book after losing my own mother, I was interested in how different mothers take different places in different daughter's lives, and though the primal cry of loss may (or may not) be similar for all, the specific things we lose are unique, depending on the mother we had and our relationship with her.

I related to the author's need to record every detail surrounding her mother's death in the hope of understanding, or at least processing and ultimately, accepting it. Her honesty in discussing their relationship is courageous and inspiring.

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. - C.S. Lewis (151)

The Magpie, Claude Monet

While viewing Monet's painting The Magpie together, Meghan's mother noticed there was no black except for the bird, adding, "It is amazing to me how such a simple thing could change everything." (197)

After her mother's death, Meghan's father sent her a passage by an ancient Egypt scholar: (paraphrased)

Instead of looking at time like a fast-flowing river, perhaps we should think of it as a deep, still pool. Instead of looking back at time, we could look down into it. The deep pool would hold all our memories, so that nothing was lost and nothing ever went away. (285)

Thank you to Sarina Romero for recommending this book.

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