Tag Archives: grief

The Crossing, by B. Michael Radburn

There are questions and recommendation-seeking after the review – please join in the discussion!

It was the first snow Taylor had seen since his transfer to Tasmania, and he didn’t much care for it. After seven years on the mainland with National Parks & Wildlife, he’d spent the last three in the snowfields and high country of Victoria. It was a dream job for any ranger, but that was before losing Claire. She was eight years old then. It was a year ago to the day. Taylor clenched his jaw as something trembled deep within him. Something more than grief. Something more than heartache, like a treasured memory dying.

Life can turn on a penny, his father used to say.

‘Amen, Dad,’ Taylor whispered, the sound of his voice loud in the silent cottage.

The Crossing (Australian author B. Michael Radburn’s debut) is a moody, painful exploration into a father’s grief, and his sudden determination to find a little girl gone missing in his small isolated town – a town slowly being swallowed by a newly built dam.

While reading The Crossing, I found myself gripping the pages tightly (sorry, local library!) in parts of the tale, my hope and anxiety matching those of Taylor, the sorrow ridden father, as he fought his own exhaustion and nightmares to search for the missing girl. At other times, the portrayal of mourning was communicated so painfully it had me holding the book carefully to my chest as I tried to slow my breathing and dry my eyes. The Crossing evokes not only the Tasmanian country beautifully, but also the dense, lonely inner world of Taylor and the intricacies of other characters. Radburn deftly combines the changing landscape, the residents’ own shadows, secrets and Taylor’s mourning into a tale as haunting, fascinating and deep as the approaching watery quiet. There is humour, love and loyalty in The Crossing as well, leading the reader into considering things lost, found, and still hoped for.

(The Crossing is available in hard-copy through Australian stores – many of which post internationally- or electronically through Amazon or Apple. Go here for the first chapter sample).

Which works of fiction have captured grieving, sorrow or sadness perfectly heartwrenchingly for you? 

Do you avoid certain themes – such as in this book, missing children – in your reading? If so, which themes, and why?

Does a book being set in a different country increase or quell your interest?

GLOBAL MOM a memoir by Melissa Dalton-Bradford

First, our book reviews tend to meet with resounding silence, so I’m posing questions at the beginning for you to think about as you read.

How has living (or visiting) in different places changed your view of the world?

As emissaries of Christ, do we have a responsibility to understand other cultures?

Where would you choose to live– for a few years or forever– if given a chance?

How can those of us who are planted in one city gain a world view?

Also, if you have any questions for Melissa, she’ll be checking the comments.

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This is NOT an unbiased review.

Contributing to Segullah since 2007, Melissa Dalton-Bradford is one of our OWN. In fact the acknowledgments read, “…Segullah aided in the development of my voice and the telling of this story.” If you search her name on our blog or literary site you’ll find her gorgeous poems, essays and musings. And personally, I love and adore Melissa Dalton-Bradford around the globe and back. Continue reading

Preparing a Funeral for a Baby and Feeling the Influence of a Life

Image Credit: OnceWed

Mara Kofoed, a Brooklynite of 12 years, is founder of A BLOG ABOUT LOVE.  She writes her heart out daily sharing real stories about love, marriage, divorce, self-worth & trials.  Because of her own divorce & 8 years of infertility, she learned something that felt revolutionary at the time, but was what she had been hearing her whole life in the Mormon church: choose happiness – even amidst obstacles – by living a life motivated by love.  She applies this to her new marriage & together with her husband, they share all their happylovesecrets with the world every day on their blog.  Someone helped Mara on her journey to finding her her own worth & happiness, and she’s dedicated her life to try and do the same for you.   

One of my dearest friends—my oldest friend from my twelve years in Brooklyn— spent many years trying to get pregnant. Finally, she did IVF and it worked. She was pregnant! We were brimming with excitement for she and her husband. Our Brooklyn community of friends was overjoyed. We hosted an extravagant shower at my home and everything seemed to be the happiest of beginnings.

Until the baby was born.

Right away, the doctors knew something was not right with baby Beatrice. After several weeks, she was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic disorder, one that was life threatening. The baby girl would likely not ever be able to leave the hospital ventilators, even if she lived.

The news floored us. We were all young professionals in Brooklyn. We spent our days hanging out with each other, visiting Coney Island or having picnics in park. We crammed into Mini Coopers and went on road trips. We sat around and talked about business ideas and our big New York dreams. We barbecued on rooftops, decorated our mid-century modern apartments, worked long hours, and relished our tradition of dessert nights. And now one of us had a four pound baby in an ICU incubator. It felt like the life you hear about from off in the distance; the worst-case scenarios that you think will never happen. Continue reading

Grief Wears Steel-Capped Boots

My fourteen year old firstborn sits in the hairdressers’ chair, all lanky legs and angles. His curls tumble to the floor – a boofy English Sheepdog turning sleek German Pinscher – and his face morphs as I watch. He’s half smiling, the little mouth twitch I know means he’s well pleased.

“Reckon your Dad will recognise you?” the hairdresser asks, teasing.

STOP! In my head klaxons bellow and lights flare against the danger. Don’t ask that!

All emotion is gone. He’s stone-faced, staring a thousand years through the mirror.

She doesn’t know what’s happened. That his Dad has chosen not to have anything to do with him or his brother anymore. That he hasn’t seen his Dad since before Christmas, and his Dad didn’t recognise him then either.

He shrugs. “Ugh” he grunts, an acceptable almost-answer. Curls continue to drift and eddy through the air, across the floor.

Somehow, grief has tracked us down again and kicked us silent. Grief wears steel-capped boots.

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I’d have thought that for the wallop those boots give there’d be some warning that grief is coming for a visit. I know some dates grief will drop by: the anniversary of my Pop’s death; Father’s Day; when my friends graduate from the degree I’ll never finish; a myriad of future, significant events in my sons’ lives. But I can prepare and plan for those – it’s the rough ambushes by grief in the middle of sun drenched afternoons which bruise me, leave me battered and punctured and realising grief wasn’t as far behind me as I’d thought. Grief’s boots are splattered with dismay and surprises.

But even with the unexpected tackles and unwanted reconnections, sometimes I open the door wide and invite grief in, cruel boots and all. We don’t wallow (mostly). Or brawl (much). I’ve found grief’s sturdy, obvious presence gives some credence and acknowledgement to the pain I’m feeling, the ache of what was lost. The weight of grief’s boots is familiar, like the shape of my favourite mug in my fingers, and after a time of contemplation and use, is sometimes just as possible to put carefully away on a shelf, out of sight, out of mind.

How has grief ambushed you? Do you let yourself have a wallow or brawl with your feelings? How would you personify an emotion? Have you been able to leave grief permanently behind? How do you cope with and support grieving children?

All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day

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One family, we dwell in Him;
One church above, beneath;
Though now divided by the stream,
The narrow stream of death.
One army of the living God,
To His command we bow;
Part of the host have crossed the flood
And part are crossing now.

—Charles Wesley (1701-1778)

November 1st, 2007, Munich, Germany.

Slowly, aimlessly, head down and shoulders drawn up to my ears, I trudged through the damp hollowness of Munich’s vast English Garden. Just a block from the apartment we had found on a house-hunting trip the previous April, this huge urban park had held, on the outset at least, expansive open-air promise. Our oldest son, I’d thought, would be coming home to us from his first semester at college in the U.S. to celebrate a Bavarian Christmas by cross-country skiing with his Dad and little brothers through the park’s many kilometers of trails. He would share a room with his 16-year-old sister and they would jog here together early mornings before she would catch her bus to school. He and I would bike the beautiful six-minute direct shot across the park from our door to the Universität in the Ludwigstrasse. He would easily make friends and probably sit it on lectures and hang out in all the cafés in the student district along the Leopoldstrasse. Yes, that’s how things would look while he would live with us for the few weeks until he would receive his mission call. Continue reading