Tag Archives: loss

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?

Sympathy, Faith and a Tricycle

My tricycle“The last time I saw you,” she sighed, staring at an afternoon decades ago, “you were wearing a little shirt with a pocket on the chest, and a nappy, and I took you straight off ya Mum and walked down the back of the yard. We had a look at the animals, and you put ya head down on my shoulder. It was a few weeks until Christmas, and..” she paused, puffing out her cheeks before starting again, “.. ya Mum said she’d bring you back then to get your presents.” She pushed at the tablecloth, straightening wrinkles and bumps into temporary submission. She heaved in a breath, looked up to meet my gaze, blinking against the tears falling into the creases of her face. “I didn’t see you again. I didn’t even know if you was dead. Nothing.”

“Oh I’ve missed you,” she choked out. “I never forgot you. Never stopped loving you. Not ever. Not a single day without wondering where you were and if you were okay.”

This was my grandmother; a woman whom I didn’t even know existed until two months earlier. But I could see my face reflected in hers, and finally had a physical, genetic explanation of where my red hair and curves came from. It was our first weekend together (that I could remember), and we stared hungrily at each other’s face, asked questions and tried to fill in the enormous, bewildering gap of over two decades of life (and deaths and marriages, babies, successes and heartbreak) we had lived without knowledge of the other’s experiences.

Over and over again my Nan would say the same phrases, and still does whenever we talk. “I never forgot ya. Never stopped loving ya. Not ever. Not a single day without wondering where you were and if you was okay. It broke my heart.”  I don’t doubt it hurt her. My biological Dad and his siblings have told me of her grief, of their eventual insistence that she not speak of me in their hearing because of the pain it caused all of them. I couldn’t imagine what it meant, or felt like, to lose a granddaughter – the first grandbaby born to the family – in such a sudden, inexplicable and deliberate way. Continue reading


Our little pet rabbit died today.

It’s been a tough afternoon, and all of the post ideas I had floating around in my mind seem flat and unimportant. Ironic, because to most people the death of a pet sounds flat and unimportant.

But here in the four walls of our universe, it’s our own small tragedy. We got him for Christmas, so we’ve had him for almost eight months. We watched him grow from a tiny fluff ball into a big fluff ball. We loved it when he did a “binky”—a random, springy jump that is a rabbit expression of joy.

Last night he was fine. This morning he was sick. This afternoon he died. Continue reading

Feeling the Loss

One of the things I love the most about participating in a faith is the sense of optimism it provides–the glass-half-full outlook that assures us that even when life is hard, God has the power to consecrate our afflictions for our gain (2 Nephi 2:2). As C.S. Lewis stated, “God can make good of all that happens.”

There is great power in the capacity to find meaning in what seems like senseless pain, the ability to see the fire of affliction as a refining force rather than a destructive one.

Yet it is the second half of Lewis’ statement that has had me thinking lately, and wondering how it relates to my faith: “God can make good of all that happens. But the loss is real.” *

The loss is real. Continue reading

Love, Not Time Heals all Things

Sunny Segullah postToday’s UP CLOSE guest post comes from Sunny Smart.  Sunny is a stay-at-home mom with two part-time jobs, four full-time kids, and one fantastic husband. Those stats aren’t likely to change anytime soon. She loves to bake but hates to cook, loves cleanliness but dreads cleaning, wants to be a vegetarian but really loves steak, and thinks laughter makes the world go round. Most days she can be found consuming large amounts of caffeine, baking bread, and laughing with friends. She feels honored that Segullah is sharing her story.

I was fifteen when my father passed away. The doctors had told us three months previous we must make him comfortable and wait for the inevitable. It would be painful, we were told, but there would be plenty of drugs.

I remember the smell. Each day after school I checked on my father, emptied his urine and colostomy bags, swabbed his mouth with a wet sponge so he could swallow, checked his IV’s, moved his arms and legs to slow the painful atrophy. I remember when the black spots started appearing on his feet.

“He’s rotting,” our neighbor, a nurse, told me as I stood staring at his swollen, speckled feet. “His body is already dying and starting to decompose.” These may seem like harsh words to say to a young girl standing at the bed of her dying father, but I found them strangely comforting. Almost as if the moment I was dreading most would come in small increments and I wouldn’t be faced with losing him all at once.
Continue reading