Friday, May 20, 2016

A Good Read . . . or Two

         Recently while walking my dogs in the neighborhood, I met a woman named Margo Gallagher. She had a cute, little pug dog that made rapid friends with our new German shepherd puppy. Dogs are amazing icebreakers. While the dogs sniffed, scratched, and explored, Margo, my husband, another neighbor, Gloria, and I all began chatting
            Gloria’s house borders an open space where dogs run and people congregate. Everyone knows Gloria whose vibrant personality lights up any day. Gloria knew I was a writer and that I had lost my son, Alex, to brain cancer. She also knew Margo had written a book, and yes, she too had lost her son, a victim of cystic fibrosis. Needless to say, a connection was made and a door was opened. Margo and I exchanged phone numbers and addresses and agreed to gift each other copies of the books we had written about our losses.
            Margo messaged me a few days ago saying she had read Tumor Me, The Story Of My Firefighter. Her partial comment was, “I finished reading your book. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down. Beautifully written and wow, my heart goes out to you for all that you have gone through. I feel as though I’ve gotten to know you and appreciate being introduced to Alex.”
            Of course, I was very appreciative, but a bit embarrassed because I had failed, at that point, to tell her I also had read her book, A Seven-Year Goodbye, in one sitting. Margo’s book is an absolutely wonderful tribute to her son, Aaron, who was only twenty when he died. It also is a love story, a poignant retelling of the love she has for Aaron, for her two other sons, and for her amazing husband, a firefighter (another ironic tie), who died of a massive heart attack only two years prior to Aaron’s passing. And there is more, much more. I do not want to retell Margo’s story here, but, wow, my heart goes out to her for all she had endured. I loved A Seven-Year Goodbye because it is honest, brutally honest, and it is told with such heartfelt authenticity that I wanted to tear through the pages and hug a few people. And yes, it made me cry. The passion, the pain, the absolute reality of what life may throw at a person is all a part of this work. The pages are filled with words of love from friends and family as well as Margo’s very personal and heartrending journal entries. To balance the tragic reality of her story, Margo sarcastically, but artfully, addresses “top-ten” lists of comments and condolences those of us who have suffered the horrendous loss of a child have heard. The lists are well put, to say the least, and made me chuckle a bit. Been there!
            Margo’s subtitle for A Seven-Year Goodbye is A Journey Through Child Loss and Beyond. Yes, indeed, it is a journey, one we mothers who are part of the sisterhood will continue to travel until the end. In both my case, and in Margo’s, writing has been a salve, but it, moreover, has enabled us to keep the memory of our sons alive and that’s the most important objective of all.

Both books, A Seven-Year Goodbye and Tumor Me, The Story of My Firefighter, are available on