Top positive review
43 people found this helpful
"It's like he busted through the guardrail."
on July 23, 2008
Wickersham takes a very tragic experience, applying a logical index to ungovernable feelings, penning a memoir of her father's suicide that is honest, painstaking and filled with emotional landmines. From the morning she receives the call from her distraught mother, to years later, still grappling with the complicated feelings- acceptable and unacceptable- that plague her life after this loss, the author exquisitely describes the long, dark torment of those left behind by such an act of self-annihilation. The first response, of course, is numbness, a soft-lensed vacuum that allows the family to survive the early days of shock, the outpouring of support from friends and relatives, with the occasional flash of inexplicable rage that lurks beneath the surface. It is the following years that dominate her grieving process, thinking and rethinking what could have been done to prevent the suicide, to intervene.
The elephant in the room, of course, is the undeniable violence of such an action, so heinous and selfish as to belie any daughter's memories of a loving, slightly eccentric father, a man carrying the scars of a brutal childhood and a lack of business sense that adversely affects his family's financial security. The bonds between this eldest daughter and her father are like steel cables; she favors him over her mother, with whom she has an uneasy, somewhat antagonistic relationship, especially after the suicide, the mother flapping wildly through her own jumble of confused emotions, both guilty and self-defensive, left pondering the interminable, unanswerable question: why? Although the author has a sister, it is the nature of such a loss that the sibling is hardly mentioned. This is an intense, solitary journey, an anguished, chronically self-obsessed need for answers, a patient husband dealing with the fall out years later.
Wickersham catalogs every nuance, every instinct, every possibility, trapped in a dilemma not of her own making, her life haunted years after the pivotal event. She is stuck, unable to move forward, happiness no longer a viable expectation. It is to this writer's credit that I continue to read this memoir: I didn't particularly like her father or his final resolution to overwhelming problems. On the other hand, neither have I experienced the kind of bond shared by this man and his daughter. No, I was in it for the experience, willing to follow wherever Wickersham might lead. If she has the courage to flay her soul in search of answers, who am I to shy away? "It's a crooked, looping, labyrinthine story." Indeed, it is and one with no easy answers or facile resolutions. I hope this troubled man appreciated his extraordinary child and her capacity for compassion. I doubt I would have been as forgiving. Luan Gaines/ 2008.