A debut memoir of one man’s journey toward love and healing in the face of loss.
When professional business mentor and adviser Chaleff was 18, his mother died in an automobile accident caused by a drunk driver, and afterward, he lost his ability to find meaning in life. As the child of an unpredictable, volatile father, Chaleff always found comfort in the protective, unconditional emotional warmth of his mother. Her death moved him into a mindset of self-destruction—and ultimately, self-examination. In this book, he offers a winding account of falling into addictive and compulsive behaviors, depression, and other difficulties as he tried to resolve his feelings about the traumatic event. He eventually moved to Japan, where he studied religion, and he met a very wise teacher named Cees de Bruin. He later became a teacher and healer himself, and he went on to experience moments of redemption with his father and others, which he shares here. It’s rare that a book succeeds at relating such an intimate, personal story while also clearly discussing psychological topics, such as projection, self-destruction, addiction, self-acceptance, and vulnerability. The book’s later chapters, in particular, offer unique advice, ideas, and insights about searching for self-awareness. For example, he discusses the titular last letter that he wrote to his mother, which she read shortly before her death: “That experience drove home to me the fragility of life and the urgency to take meaningful action in the face of mortality.” What makes this title stand out from similar memoirs is its raw, unsentimental treatment of the author’s story. Chaleff recounts his grief and healing experience in a cleareyed, conversational manner that will likely encourage readers toward introspection.
An intimate remembrance that includes a wealth of ideas about self-acceptance.