After my mother died when I was eighteen, I was ravenous to find others who had been through a similar experience. Because I had never met anyone my age who had lost a parent, I turned to books. I’d always been an avid reader, but up until then I’d only read fiction and poetry.
When I stumbled into the genre of memoir, a whole new door opened. I couldn’t believe how many stories there were out there to pore through. It seemed there was a memoir for every kind of experience: grief, cancer, parenting, divorce, travel, sexual identity, substance abuse. The possibilities for reading were endless. Initially I tore through as many grief memoirs as I could, each one giving me a tiny sense of lightness, of not feeling so alone. Finally, when I’d run through everything on grief I read everything else. Even books about things I’d never experienced gave me a sense of solidarity in the face of hardship.
Each time I closed the cover of another memoir – some of them great, some of them not-so-great – I felt like I had a better understanding of myself and of people around me. I also had a better understanding of what it means to bare one’s soul, to really be honest about one’s feeling and thoughts. All the memoirs I read that were great were the most honest.
The thing was though, even after all the dozens and dozens of memoirs I read, I never quite found what I was looking for. Eventually I had to settle for the fact that no one had written it yet, but what I was really looking for was my story.
So I wrote it.
People ask if it was hard to be so honest in my own memoir and my answer is always no. After reading all the ones that I did, I knew that it would be pointless to write one myself if I wasn’t going to be as seriously truthful as the other great books I read. I can only hope that my book will help others as much as the ones I read helped me.