Sunday, October 23, 2011

Let's Take the Long Way Home - Gail Caldwell

Dealing with loss is such a tricky business.  But, I have found in the past that reading books about it from people wiser than I has given me perspective, and helped me better learn how to grieve my loss, while still honoring the wonderful memories I have of the people I wish were still here.  Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking is probably the best example of a book I think everyone who has lost a loved one should read (though of course it does not cover all manner of loss).  Gail Caldwell's memoir deals with the loss of a best friend.  It took me awhile to get into this book.  I had trouble identifying with the friendship between Caldwell and fellow writer, Caroline Knapp.  They bond over their relationships with their dogs - and I think this is where couldn't connect- I don't have a pet, and while I recognize the importance of this bond,  I have never experienced it.  But, it is central to the friendship between these two women. Mostly, I found the first two-thirds of this book boring and tedious, and of course given the weighty subject matter, I felt guilty for thinking that - but because I couldn't identify with the relationship, I think I had a difficult time connecting with the obvious loss.  Once Caroline dies (and obviously, you know she's going to from the get-go), it was then that I started to see Caldwell more as a human being with understandable emotions - her pain was real and her ability to express her attempts to cope with the loss became seemingly tangible. 

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