June: Dealing with Death–Both Memory and Loss

I’ve started to roll my eyes at the phrase “New York Times bestselling author” on book covers. Admittedly, I’m not a NYT bestselling author (yet. I like to keep the dream alive.), and I don’t believe I personally know any. However. Doesn’t that phrase seem to appear on every book cover? How much could it possibly be worth?

I have run across an author who, without a doubt, deserves the title or maybe one worth even more: Fredrik Backman.

No books or authors since Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You has made tears streak like Mr. Backman. I’m just not much of a crier.

The Holiday
I just like watching Jude Law say, “Wee-pah.”

However, I wept through A Man Called Ove, and his novella (and June’s Reading Challenge pick), And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, was no different. I wasn’t the right audience for Beartown, but I have a few other Backman books on my TBR (to-be-read) pile right now.

Rabbit trail.

Fredrik Backman

Remember all the emotions you felt when you watched that wordless montage in the beginning of Disney-Pixar’s Up!? When I first saw the movie, I remember saying, “Oh, that’s so sad,” after realizing the couple couldn’t have a baby. But that was before I got married and certain before having babies myself. Once I became a wife, watching a married couple survive life’s struggles, grow old together, and cope with a spouse dying became much more poignant in my own life.

Rabbit trail ends.

In the novella Backman wrote, he celebrates the relationship between a grandfather and grandson. The two are conversing in an unusual place—a place in the grandfather’s mind. This place houses memories in tangible forms and even holds the grandfather’s lost keys. The sad part? The grandfather is losing his memory.

“When a brain fades it takes a long time for the body to realize. The human body has a tremendous work ethic; it’s a mathematical masterpiece, it’ll keep working until the very last light,” the grandfather told his grandson.

In the introduction, Backman wrote that he never expected others to read this story, as he wrote it to process these emotions personally. I can believe it. I’ve never been close to someone who lost his or her memory as age overcame, but this story made me consider how life will look when my parents and husband begin to decline. It’s an inevitable future, if we are all fortunate enough to live long enough to grow old. I realize age in and of itself is an immense gift.

Thankfully, we have heaven to enjoy together. And what a blessing that will be. But the interim will definitely have times of deep grief.

In the meantime, though, I recommend this novella. It was challenging, but I don’t see that as a negative. I’m grateful Atria Books decided to translate it into English and share it across the Atlantic. It’d be fairly easy to read in one sitting, so the “challenge” was met easily this month. I started late, though, so I grasped the low-hanging fruit!

Next month, though? I’m reading a book chosen by my spouse. He’s been awaiting this day since I began this challenge eight months ago. Thankfully, he has good literary taste, but his interests diverse steeply from my own.

Brace yourselves, fellow readers!

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