Thursday, April 5, 2012


My new book arrived today, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and I read the first chapter tonight (reviews here and here). It's about a solitary long distance hike on the Pacific Crest Trail (from what I can tell) as a vehicle to sort through the author's life in upheaval (specifically the loss of her mother from cancer and divorce from her husband). I was attracted to the book for obvious reasons- in a nutshell- I lost my mother from ovarian cancer when I was seventeen, thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2007 before starting grad school, and have since recovered from a broken engagement from my 7-year partner and thru-hiking companion. 

I had a hard 15 minute sob after I read the first chapter. It is difficult to express what it is like to care for someone who is dying from cancer, and I hadn't read anything that approximated my experience until tonight. The writing is raw and honest, without being loaded down by self-pity. It went beyond describing the deterioration of the physical body, but included those last desperate interactions, memories, and shared silences. The desire to share all of those stories before it is too late. Actually, I felt a pang of jealousy towards the author, she had a few years longer with her mom than I did with my own, and it seemed that they were able to share stories woman-to-woman. It is hard to share such 'loss of virginity' stories with one's mom when you are only seventeen. 

It's clear that I haven't fully dealt with this, given this strong reaction. Yes, there are moments I miss my mom terribly, but the pain of her absence gets quickly buried so that I can carry on with my life. I don't like dwelling on it, and in the process, I haven't allowed myself to fully grieve. 
MB wandering on the AT. Still a bit lost.


Yyogini said...

I am so sorry to hear about your losses. I hope reading this book will help you through your grief. Just to let you know I've never been able to share woman-to-woman stories with my mom and I'm 30-something.

wandering mb said...

Thanks. I feel a bit embarrassed about this post now, as it's a little wah-wah. It just caught me off guard that a book stirred up events from 12 years ago that I thought I'd moved beyond, and brought back the emotion full force. It's an uncomfortable but good read.