Deeply affecting memoir on the loss of a child, by business analyst and mother Holizki.
After enjoying a close mother-daughter relationship during Kalei’s childhood, single mom Holizki and her teenage daughter began to clash. Kalei became friends with a wild group of classmates and was acting out after the end of Holizki’s long-term relationship with Gene. However, in the summer of 2001, Kalei seemed to be ready to turn her life around—renewing friendships with junior high buddies and vowing to pay more attention to her schoolwork. First, she wanted one last outing with her other friends, a camping trip before a friend moved cross-country. Despite reservations, Holizki agreed. Early on the morning of Aug. 20, 2001, Holizki received the telephone call every parent fears: Kalei had been in a very bad car accident. Worse yet, because she and the other girls were not carrying identification, law enforcement couldn’t immediately tell Holizki whether or not her daughter survived. With brutal, heart-wrenching honesty, Holizki shares the hours, days, and years after her only daughter’s death. At times, she was unabashedly bitter and angry, as people couldn’t comprehend the “unspeakable” loss she suffered; instead, they offered clichéd, often unintentionally cruel platitudes. Holizki traces her horrible, unimaginable journey, not presuming to provide a self-help guide for parents facing similar heartbreak. What works for her may not be ideal for other mourners, and by the same token, she wishes others would not assume they know what’s best for her. Holizki’s insistence on using the word “dead”—often spelling it out for emphasis: “Kalei is dead—d-e-a-d. Dead. I don’t know what that means”—reflects the finality of the catastrophe. She is saved by her firm belief that Kalei remains close; the memoir’s title perfectly encapsulates her attitude.
Not always an easy or pleasant read but an unforgettable one.