Southern California–based nurse and debut author Anderson shares the story of the loss of her 19-year-old son, and her journey through the next two years.
In the early morning hours of Oct. 16, 2016, the author received the kind of phone call that all parents dread. The eldest of her four children, Jeramie, nicknamed “Jem,” had been in a serious car accident. Hours later, she finally confirmed that he did not survive. “The loss of a child breaks you,” she writes in the preface to this slim, touching volume. Overwhelmed by grief, she faced a choice: “Do I…live my life trying in vain to be whole again….Or do I accept that this is me now? Do I allow and accept myself to be broken?” She says that writing letters to Jem after his death—which are included in this book—was her way of keeping him near. She originally wrote these missives on paper and an online journal, and they allowed her to give voice to her profound grief. She later started a Twitter account to read Jem’s old Twitter posts and his friends’ new ones. She also had his first tattoo replicated on her own ankle: “the lotus flower for inner strength and peace; Om for what was, what is, and what will be; and flames for the rage inside.” Overall, her memoir offers a tender account of her own acceptance of pain as part of her new reality. Some of the most poignant musings in the book deal with how she found it difficult to answer simple questions in social situations, such as “How many children do you have?” She felt that saying “three” somehow negated Jem’s existence, she says, so she finally decided to say, “I had four children. But one is no longer with us.” She effectively concludes, “Just put it out there. The truth. Even if it makes the person who asked the question uncomfortable.” Over the course of this reassuring remembrance, she comes to the realization that although there will always be tears in her future, there will also be times for laughter and joy.
A worthy and comforting book about one woman’s grief.