A mother’s tale of love and loss.
In 1989, when she was 23, Murray left her Maine home and traveled to Thailand to work at a refugee camp, and she quickly fell in love with the people, culture, and natural surroundings. She eventually married a Thai man, Dtaw, and had three sons with him. As she chronicles, their family life was simple and peaceful—until illness struck her middle son, Chan, when he was 5. He was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, and the family moved to Seattle (“a halfway spot between Dtaw’s home in Thailand and mine in Maine”) for months of treatment before returning to Thailand. With vivid, immediate prose, the author successfully conveys the dismay, pain, sorrow, love, and joy the family experienced during Chan’s battle with his disease. Murray intertwines lush descriptions of the Thai landscape and culture with that of her more frenetic Western background as well as her views on medicine, which show the ambiguity she felt as she tried to do what was best for Chan. As the author came to the horrible realization that there was no chance of Chan recovering, she slowly eased into the mindset of making each moment with him count. Murray’s lucid meditations and living-in-the-moment attitude—e.g., providing simple pleasures like a favorite food to a sick child—serve as useful reminders to all of us that life is precious and fleeting and must be enjoyed to the fullest. It’s a simple message but an important one. As much a eulogy to Chan as a testament to the joy of life, the book is a heartwarming tale of dealing with life-altering loss. “I get mired in my own travails less now than I did before,” writes Murray in closing. “I don’t squint down into the blackness of my own mind so much anymore. Now I try to look up. I try to see the sky.”
A tender, love-filled story of how one woman dealt with the loss of a young child.