A grieving father confronts his son’s death in a collection of heartfelt essays.
When his oldest son dies unexpectedly at the age of 23, writer Steven Stingley seeks comfort by putting his thoughts on paper. Each of the four dozen short essays is an outpouring of the emotions and memories of his son, Graham. The first begins in an art class on a clear, February morning, hours before Stingley learns of his son’s death. The next few describe the sorrow and confusion about why Graham died. Stingley writes at length of the depression that plagued Graham from the age of 9. Had he committed suicide? Stingley wondered. That last phone call, that last visit suddenly took on new meaning. Was his son trying to say goodbye? In a later essay, Stingley reveals his discovery that Graham’s death was likely accidentally caused by an interaction between a prescribed antidepressant and an over-the-counter cold remedy. A year after the author lost his son, the suspect drug, pseudoephedrine, was banned for over-the-counter sales. Later essays shift back and forth through time—a family trip the year before the tragedy, an enlightening email five years after, back to reminiscences from the months before he died. From the outset, Stingley makes clear that he never intended to create his son’s history; readers catch mere glimpses of Graham’s troubled life in this deliberately unfinished portrait. Yet those glimpses beg more insight into a sensitive, insightful boy.
A thoughtful examination of loss and memory by a mourning parent.