Monday 11 June 2012

Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope - Amy Welborn

Wish You Were Here:
Travels Through Loss and Hope
Amy Welborn
Image Books
ISBN 9780307716385
eISBN 9780307716392

As I was reading this book I could not help but reflect upon and compare it to C.S. Lewis' A Grief Observed. I have read Lewis' book in 5 different university courses. I believe this book would be a great addition to the syllabus for any of those courses. This book was incredibly well written. Amy Welborn bares it all; she gives us a glimpse into her life after loss. As she and her children travel around Sicily, not knowing specifically where they are going or what they will do when they get there, all along she remembers her husband and what she would want to share with him.

This book moved me, and a few times I had to put it down and step back to take time to think and reflect, to pray. As I was reading I could not help but imagine life without my wife. Amy states early on "the other set of eyes that helped you make sense of the world, when the one who held the mirror that helped you see yourself so much more clearly, when your best friend and companion is here one day and just gone the next, you can feel like you're starving. So perhaps St. Francis de Sales had a point. Maybe you should hold back, he was saying. Now is not the time to eat too fast. Sit with the hunger for a while. Give it to God. What is it I'm really hungry for anyway?" As she reflects on her loss she says: "Grief means sadness. Everyone knows that. But what you might not know until you live it-I didn't-is about regret, and how, in the world of grief, sadness may be the air you breathe, but regrets are the cracks in the ground that trip you up and knock you flat." The book is at times raw and visceral like Lewis' but it is much more tempered and reflective than his work.

Welborn finds that she has begun second-thinking herself and her decisions. Reflecting on her day, she says: "Will we remember tonight as we settle down to sleep? Will we be grateful or will we lie there, restless, second-guessing ourselves, wondering what we could have done differently if we'd just waited and taken the next turn instead?" Welborn also reflects on the choices since Mike has passed away. A few times she reflects even on the trip itself. She went overseas to be away from all the people who would ask about Mike and all the shared places and spaces. But it leads to new questions and doubts - "guilt about the cost and the privilege, and my survivor's guilt, seem to fade with the light. They might be back again tomorrow, along with the sun. They probably will. But right now, I'll let it be a good thing to be here. No matter how we got here, no matter why. I'll try to be happy. Knowing that it could all disappear tomorrow, knowing that everything could change in a moment."

Later she finds herself reflecting back, back to Mike at the hospital and unable to approach and touch him. Mike in his casket. For he will always be there, it is the last memory. "I could say that it is fantastic and wonderful, and yes, I could say that, if it were not for you in your casket. But you will always be in your casket, you will never come back to sit next to me at the pool, never play with the brothers, never tease and challenge Katie, no more eyes, wide and curious and ready to seek the absurd and the beautiful and then talk to me about it." And it will always be that way. Amy comes to the realization that: "Mike died, my relationship to the rest of the human race shifted-not in one direction, but in a back-and-forth kind of way." And that is the impact - all things have changed and they will continue to change.

Amy Welborn has written an amazing book. She has opened up her life and her process to us. I believe this book will become a classic in Christian circles or at least it should.

Books by Amy Welborn:
Reconciled to God Daily Lenten Devotions
Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope
A Catholic Woman's Book of Days
de-Coding Da Vinci: The Facts Behind the Fiction of the Da Vinci Code
Loyola Kids Book of Saints
Loyola Kids Book of Heroes: Stories of Catholic Heroes and Saints throughout History
Prove It! God
Prove It! Church
Prove It! Jesus
Prove It! The Catholic Teen Bible
Here. Now. a Catholic Guide to the Good Life
The Words We Pray
Praying the Rosary: With the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries
Decoding Mary Magdalene: Truth, Legend, and Lies
Come Meet Jesus: An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI
Be Saints! An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI

Friendship with Jesus: Pope Benedict XVI talks to Children on Their First Holy Communion
Mary and the Christian Life: Scriptural Reflections on the First Disciple
Adventures in Assisi: On the Path with St. Francis: On the Path with St. Francis
Prepare Him Room: Advent Family Devotions

Parables: Stories of the Kingdom
The Absence of War

Prove It Series:
Prove It! God
Prove It! Church
Prove It! Jesus
Prove It! Prayer
Prove It! You
Prove It! The Catholic Teen Bible

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