Friday, September 23, 2016

Book Review: Colors of Goodbye

I didn't go searching for a memoir on loss, but this book found it's way into my hands when the cover and title entranced me. Colors of Goodbye: A Memoir of Holding On, Letting Go, and Reclaiming Joy in the Wake of Loss, tells the story of a mother devastated by the loss of her nineteen-year-old daughter, Katie. September Vaudrey pours out her pain and her hope in this story of love and loss, and of living in the midst of both. (If you click on the book link above, you can listen to the first minutes of Shauna Niequist's foreward to the book - an enticing snippet of the audio version.)

I did weep buckets of tears. How could one read of the loss of a beautiful, artistic, vibrant young woman without shedding a tear? But, as gut-wrenching as the pain of losing one's child might be, this book focuses equally on the process of going through that experience and gleaning God's good despite the bad of death and loss. I loved how each section began with a definition of a color word (seven different unique colors like vermillion, indigo, burnt sienna, and cerulean blue) and a couple key quotes. The inclusion of examples of Katie's art added an important personal touch. You felt like you got to know the daughter more through her magnificent works of art. It was truly devastating to think of the talent she displayed from such a young age and the further works she might have been able to produce if God had allowed her to remain on earth a bit longer. But, the book doesn't leave with a feeling of disappointment or despair. You weep when the family weeps and you laugh when the family finds the strength to laugh.

A really good memoir allows you to walk a mile in the writer's shoes and feel each sentiment alongside them. September Vaudrey is an excellent writer (the book received five star reviews across the board). You get inside her head and her heart. You experience the sadness and the recognition of subtle challenges (like trying to avoid making the lost child such a centerpiece that the other children seem insignificant in the post-loss life or wearing the loss as a badge - things that do, in fact, happen in the lives of families who have lost a child). I was sucked into the story of their difficult experience, but I came away with a sense of hope and inspiration. Katie declared as a fifteen-year-old: "I want to leave ripples in the lives I leave behind." Her life truly did leave ripples and this memoir will continue to send the ripples of that life out into the world for Christ's sake (for rather than questioning faith, the story affirms faith).

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