Pilgrim Path

This blog is the work of a seeker and poet. Walking stick in hand, I head out into the world, not of the world, but in the world. My words and my friends carry me along and light the pilgrim path of spiritual journeys.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"GOLDENGROVE" by Francine Prose

I do a lot of cruising around the various web pages of NPR these days. Their news is good and the reporting solid, but considering the state of the presidential campaign (not to mention the economy), I find I'm spending most of my time on the books and music pages these days. Very few books make it to the top ten list and even fewer are noticed by Oprah. NPR manages to find some buried treasures every once in a while and that's what keeps me coming back.

Just last week, I stumbled across the NPR story about a book titled
“Goldengrove” written by Francine Prose. Briefly, it is the story of a family suffering through the loss of a teenage daughter/sister due to drowning. The author conveys subtle as well as obvious emotions through a masterful use of language. I won’t reveal much more of the story. I recommend going to the NPR site as linked above for more information.

The story is told from the viewpoint of the drowned girl’s younger teenage sister. Now, as a more than middle-aged man, one might question how I’m coping with this point of view. Just fine, thanks for asking. You see, I picked up this book with ulterior motives. Don’t tune out…stick with me here.

Thirty-six years ago, when I was twenty, my adult brother drowned. It would take too much time and too much space to convey all of the information surrounding this time, but suffice it to say, I felt and still feel that I was never allowed the time to grieve that loss. Those of you who have seen a therapist will be familiar with the phrase, “work through a wound.” I have yet to meet a therapist or anyone who has been in therapy that can precisely tell me HOW to “work through a wound.” I have asked if it is enough to simply “touch” that loss. The non-answer I get is: “We all have our own ways of working things out.” I’m guessing this is what they teach therapists to say as an alternative to shrugging their shoulders.

I haven’t been to a therapist in over 4 years. I decided this particular therapist had taken me “as far as he could.” (You see, we, as patients, have developed our own nonsense language!)

But, after having read the review of the book as well as an excerpt, something resonated in me. There was something about the language and phrasing that made me feel at home; it made me feel as if this author had an understanding of what it feels like to be a surviving sibling, a surviving child. Grieve comes with many masks and only experience tells us which masks are required at which time with which people.

I’m only 100 pages into this book right now, but I felt it important to share this discovery with others. The sooner we learn that masks only work for so long, the better we will all be.

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Blogger John said...

Thanks for branching out and doing a book review. And thanks, even more, for revealing a little of the heart of the pilgrim, one well acquainted with grief.

Bless you, my good friend

6:24 AM  

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