For many, summer is as good as over; school starts earlier and earlier, it seems, and life becomes very busy very fast.
But there might be time for one more good summer read before you surrender to the busyness that surrounds September. And that read is Amy Welborn’s Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope.
If you don’t know, Amy is a thoughtful writer and blogger who really writes well, whether in her many books or on her blogs, Booked and Charlotte Was Both. All was going well in life, until her husband and father of their young boys, Michael Dubruiel, dropped dead at the gym (of all places) on 3 February 2009. Now a widow, Amy then took her family to Sicily to grieve and to process Michael’s death.
Not all of life should be material, and some people, I am afraid, write for gratuitous, indulgent, and narcissistic reasons. Often in the aftermath of great loss or great failure one should keep silent in humility. (Here’s one title I’m thinking about.) But sometimes stories of loss and failure need to be told, when told in profound ways from humility for the good of others and the persons in the story. C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed comes to mind, as does Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Lament for a Son and Rod Dreher’s forthcoming The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life, written in the wake of his precious sister’s untimely death from cancer.
Amy’s Wish You Were Here is thoroughly in this vein: A heartfelt memoir of love and loss written not for the sake of writing but written out of the depths of one’s profound experiences. Amy is simply an incredible writer, and I can only hope one day to emulate her skill with words. Beyond that, what I appreciate most about the book is its emphasis on place, as Amy weaves her experiences and memories of Michael and his loss into her family’s experiences traveling in Italy. The Amazon description:
Her journey through city and countryside, small town and ancient ruins, opens unexpected doors of memory and reflection, a pilgrimage of the heart and an exploration of the soul. It is an observant and wry memoir and travelogue, intensely personal yet speaking to universal experiences of love and loss. Along the narrow roads and hairpin turns, the narrative reveals the beauty of the ordinary and the commonplace and asks stark questions about how we fill the empty places that a loved one leaves behind. It is a meditation on the possibility of faith, one that is unflinching, uncompromising, and altogether unsentimental when confronted by the ultimate test of belief. This book is not only a well-told memoir, but a testimony to the truth that love is stronger than death.
In this been, Amy has hit the sweet spot where roots reach for water. Make Wish You Were Here your last read of the summer.