Munn’s debut memoir tells of her own journey of self-discovery after learning of a parent’s terminal illness.
In 2003, the author was in the middle of a divorce when she suffered another severe blow—her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Rather than give in to grief, she embarked on what she calls a “heart-opening journey”—one that she deftly and intensely recounts in this memoir. The book might have benefited from providing a little more background, as Munn barely touches upon her childhood and the causes of her marital collapse before plunging into her mother’s chilling diagnosis: “I let out a gut-wrenching cry, as I thought, No, God, I am really not ready for this,” she recalls. Soon, however, she expresses gratitude for being able to “start giving more to Mom from my heart.” Throughout this book, the author skillfully describes the nuances of her visits with her mother as well as the deepening of their relationship. At one point, for example, her mother shocked her by saying “I am cured!” She was only in temporary remission, but the author shares her insight that it was more important to be supportive than judgmental: “I chose to focus on the moment and celebrate Mom where she was.” They also chose a purple butterfly as their “symbol of connection that would last forever, across different realms.” Munn’s invocations of a higher power may not appeal to some secular readers, but others will find genuine drama in her account of a deathbed visit, during which the author says that she heard her mother’s soul say, “I wonder if I am worthy of receiving God.” In the end, Munn analogizes her journey to that of a caterpillar transitioning to a butterfly: having “let go of all the layers of my cocoon and set them free, I ... now live an authentic life with my heart wide open.”
A remembrance that effectively captures the profound love between a mother and daughter.