A Book for Healing

A Book for Healing Elaine Mansfield's new book Leaning Into Love: A Spiritual Journey ThroughGriefIt was a twenty-mile drive to the book launch celebration for Elaine Mansfield’s memoir, Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief. A week before, I’d bought the book for a friend who recently lost her husband. I’d started reading it and could not give it away until I finished the whole book myself.

The gathering at Damiani Wine Cellars was impressive. It was almost like stepping back into the book as all the people I’d just read about (and seen pictures of on Elaine’s blogs) now walked among the crowd, smiling with filled wineglasses. Reading the memoir, I’d witnessed how family and friends make a difference in dying a good death and living a good life. I’d come to love the sons who participated in rituals in the woods and the friends who brought soup and read poems. But there was one person in particular I was looking for.

I recognized Elaine’s mother-in-law from the photos I’d seen of her son who died. They had the same eyes and face-shape. She was sitting alone at a table so I took my plate of hors d’oeuvres and joined her. Introducing myself, I explained how I bumped into Elaine six years ago in the tiny kitchen of the oncology unit at Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital. My daughter and I were first entering the wilds of cancer as the Mansfields were exiting.
“Did your daughter die?” she asked right off, leaning towards me. Ninety-eight years old, she didn’t waste time getting to what was on her mind.

We talked about our children. We talked about life in general, the unfairness and the heartbreak. My twenty-year-old daughter was with me the last third of my life before she died; this woman’s son had lived for two thirds of her life. We both knew you can’t measure or score grief.
“I’m going to be okay. Will you be okay?” I wanted to ask but didn’t. Then suddenly she was gleaming proudly.

“I want you to meet my grandsons,” she said as she introduced me to David and Anthony and the granddaughter-in-law from the book. “And this is our new fiancée,” she said, hugging another young woman’s arm. Illuminated before me were the messages I took from the book: life ends but love lasts long after,  embrace the grief. And new life follows loss.

 

 

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8 thoughts on “A Book for Healing

  1. Lynne Taetzsch

    Robin, thanks for sharing this meeting with Elaine’s mother-in-law. Two mothers grieving for lost children–sharing their grief and love. Beautiful!

    I have read the first chapter of Elaine’s book so far–I love it, but as I read it I am also reliving the death of my own husband, so I’m going slower with it.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Hi Lynne. The first thing my social worker did when my daughter died was to give me a book written by nine mothers who lost their older children. Somehow I found comfort in “seeing” others going through what I thought I’d never be able to survive. Later, when I was writing my own book, I relived my story and my daughter’s death over and over again. It got easier each time to read and write and own what had happened. It was sad and I kept tissues nearby. But allowing the grief to fill me for periods of time has felt as right as it feels to bask in joy. Grief and joy are both part of life and I’m getting all I can of life as long as I’m the one left here on this Earth. The ones we love and miss would want us to get all we can. So take it slowly but take it all in, Lynne. Cheers to you.

      Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank you, Angela. Our memories and love, yes. And if we’re lucky, our grandchildren. I’m enjoying so much seeing your crazy wonderful times with your grandchildren on FB. Cheers to all of you.

      Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thanks, Jan. And welcome to my site. I’ve been inspired by Elaine and her journey, and now that the book is real it is so amazing to watch it get out into the world.

      Reply
  2. Elaine Mansfield

    Wow, Robin. What a sweet surprise, and it was a complete surprise. Thanks so very much. I love it and love the sweet characterization of Vic’s mom. She was proud of me that night. Family had a great time welcoming Veronica into the family and there was an art installation of a small pyramid in the woods. It’s beautiful and honors my book, Anthony and Veronica’s engagement, and this family and land. What a healing blog you have written. I’ll take a copy to Virginia when I visit her tomorrow.
    With gratitude,
    Elaine

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      It has been such a joy to follow you through your book-journey. I’ve been so cheered by the celebrations with your friends and family. Driving through the countryside to find Damiani Wine Cellars, having champagne in the night in a room of people and lights, zipping downtown to hear your reading,… has brought back much of the color of fall that I haven’t allowed myself to enjoy since my daughter died. Cheers.

      Reply

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