What’s it all about?:
As a bereavement care specialist, Dr. Virginia Simpson has devoted her career to counseling individuals and families grappling with illness, death, and grieving. But when her own mother, Ruth, is diagnosed in 1999 with a life-threatening condition, Virginia is caught off guard by the storm of emotions she experiences when she is forced to inhabit the role of caregiver. In a quest to provide her mother with the best care possible, Virginia arranges for Ruth to move in with her and for the next six years, she cares for her, juggling her mother s doctor s appointments, meals, medication schedules, transportation needs, and often cranky moods with her own busy schedule. In The Space Between, Simpson takes readers along for the journey as she struggles to bridge the invisible, often prickly space that sits between so many mothers and daughters, and to give voice to the challenges, emotions, and thoughts many caregivers experience but are too ashamed to admit. Touching and vividly human, The Space Between reminds us all that without accepting the inevitability of death and looking ahead to it with clarity, life cannot be fully lived.
What did I think?:
First of all, many thanks to the author and publishers of this emotional memoir, She Writes Press, for providing me with a free copy in return for an honest review. I’ve got quite a strong relationship with my own mother and when I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I was going to be in for quite a heart-breaking ride. Well, I wasn’t wrong. This is a fantastic piece of non-fiction that explores the author’s own relationship with her mother as she faces chronic illness and the thing most people dread – old age and the inevitability of death peeking round the corner.
Ginni takes most (well actually, ALL) of the responsibility for her mother’s health and well-being on her own shoulders. She has quite a frayed relationship with her older brother Peter after suffering physical and emotional abuse from him when they were younger and indeed, he doesn’t seem to be particularly interested in many of the decisions Ginni has to make. She takes her mother into her own house as she can’t face putting her in a care home although before long, the strain it places on her both physically and mentally becomes too much and also threatens the solidity of the “up and down” relationship that they do have.
What I loved so much about this book was how brutally honest it is and I really feel for the author as it must have been quite a traumatic, although hopefully cathartic experience to write and re-live her personal experiences with her mother. Her mother does love her, that much is clear – but she has a bit of a funny way of showing it sometimes, especially when it comes to her brother Peter who Ginni believes was the “favourite” of the family. It represents such an authentic mother-daughter relationship – the bumps in the road, the rebellions, the arguments and tears but at the end, such a deep love that cannot be taken away or denied.
I already knew before I began this book that I was going to be quite affected by it but I never realised how much until I started reading. It’s very rare that a book makes me sob but with this one, some things just hit a little close to home and I really felt like I could sympathise and identify with Ginni. Even though the author works with those who have become bereaved I don’t think anything can prepare you for the death of a parent and I can only hope that when I have to suffer this terrible experience, I can be half as strong as Ginni was. This is a no holds barred, true and very raw story of the love between parents and their children and I want to thank the author for sharing her life and innermost feelings in such a beautiful way.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):