I was pregnant when a friend suggested I read this one. When I bought it I was horrified to find out it was about a woman who has a stillbirth. I don’t consider myself over superstitious, but my pregnancy was already high risk and would need a c-section (something I’d never endured with my previous children) so I put the book aside to read later. Later turned out to be my second week home from the hospital with a healthy newborn. As it was, the book struck all the emotional chords.
McCracken had never really thought she’d get married or have children. She ended up meeting her husband later in life, getting married and getting pregnant. She and her husband were both writers, living in France at the time, and planning for the addition to their family. The book jumps from past to present, to past past. At no point do you wonder how the story will end. She is very clear from the beginning when she writes “This is the happiest story in the world with the saddest ending.” This book addresses how one mourns a life that was… but wasn’t at the same time. It is also the story of another pregnancy, a second pregnancy that results in a healthy child a year later. McCracken’s memoir is very personal, but quite relatable, and beautifully written. She begins with an incident when a woman in Florida tells her she should write a book about the lighter side of losing a child. She doesn’t understand, but at the end of her own story she realizes that this woman just wanted a way to remember her son without sorrow. She wanted permission to rejoice in his life without having to focus on his death, and this is something McCracken is able to do with her memoir. She truly celebrates the life of this child that she lost.
During much of my reading of this book I held my newest baby in my arms. It is easy to be touched by a story that could have so nearly been my own, but I feel McCracken’s book reaches a larger audience. Anyone who has lost a loved one under any circumstances will recognize themselves in McCracken’s grief. They will understand the confusion and conflicting emotions. Those who have not lost children will certainly read something that might help them comfort those who have. This was one of the best memoirs that I have read.