A sister’s memoir reveals her pain after her older brother’s suicide.
While the title of Park’s debut work (written when she was 16) may strike readers as ironic since her brother will never grow old and his death brought unwelcome adult experiences, the subtitle tells it all: “A Memoir of Grief.” This narrative seems lifted from a day-by-day diary. The simple prose style conveys youthful feelings and confusion. The author was 12 in 2008 when her 14-year-old brother Austin (her “hero, friend, and idol”) locked himself in their parents’ bedroom. Later, she looked through a patio’s sliding glass door and saw Austin, blood and a gun. Why did he do it? Both children had seemingly wonderful lives: good looks, a supportive family and social standing in their Nevada community. No causes (medical or social) for the boy’s suicide were given. The why remains a mystery, but the transition in Park’s life was “drastic and instant” and filled with pain, loss and gossip. Some of her peers even wondered if she did it since they were the only ones home. Looking back, she describes her anger at other kids—“They acted as if they knew him better than I did”—and at God, blaming him for “not saving him or giving him a second chance at life.” Family and counselors helped, but Park often dreamed that they were still a family of four. She has healed somewhat and discusses how she’s able to find some comfort: “A prayer that helps me now, and which I wish I had known when everything changed in our lives is the Serenity Prayer. It helped me to pray about what I needed to change, what I couldn’t change, and to have the wisdom to know the difference.” A recent move to a new city and work with other survivors of tragedy (she and her mother are now certified as group facilitators) has helped. This short text (including photos, newspaper clippings and references) ends abruptly: “My hopes are to share my story nationwide and to motivate others by speaking engagements.”
A well-intentioned grief memoir.