A grieving mother finds comfort in the notion that her deceased son is, in many ways, still with her.
Davidson’s son, Paul, died while in the military at the age of 20, leaving her with grief, many questions, and the uncanny sense that he was still present in her life. Her debut memoir blurs the line between presence and absence, telling stories of Paul’s childhood and of events immediately following his death. Paul, she says, remained at her side through every difficult moment, and many sentences in this book are addressed directly to him: “Do you remember, Paul,” Davidson asks, “when we first looked at houses in our neighborhood?” She informs him that she knows that he’s still with the family even now: “Two days after you passed over to heaven, your aunt Lauren heard you playing music in her house. You let her know you were there with Grammy Elizabeth.” These added layers of complexity give Davidson’s prose a sense of intimacy, as if one is reading a diary or personal letters. She reminisces about the family’s various houses, the times that Paul played with his brother and cousins, and his many accomplishments in high school. She intimately juxtaposes these happy memories with difficult moments from her life, such as when soldiers arrived to tell her that Paul had died, and when she took a car ride to the funeral wearing a black dress. At times, the lines between happiness and grief become indistinct, and this gives the book an ethereal tone, reinforced by the author’s accounts of Paul’s supernatural visits. She asserts that he came to her and other family members in order to comfort them, answer questions about his death, and show them his new life in heaven. It’s never quite clear how literally readers should take these accounts, but this ambiguity only makes their comforting images more powerful. The book also features pictures from Paul’s childhood, selected poems about him by the author, and passages describing Davidson’s faith in God. Overall, the author has crafted a powerful piece about grief, and although it’s filled with hope, it also brings across the severity and sadness of its subject.
A powerful, sometimes surreal memoir about facing grief through faith.