The Lively Shadow: Living with the Death of a Child
Ballantine Books, 2003 - 193 pages
"Remembering may be a celebration or it may be a dagger in the heart, but it is better, far better, than forgetting."--Donald M. Murray
It is the hardest thing anyone can face--the death of a child. A tragedy that has affected millions also touched Donald M. Murray, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Boston Globe, twenty-five years ago. Now, for the first time, he fully expresses what he lost--and learned--in a book even more moving than his inspiring volume on aging, My Twice-Lived Life.
Lee Murray was Donald and Minnie Mae's middle child, one of three girls. An avid oboe player accepted by a prestigious conservatory, the family "caretaker" with compassion for everyone, a young woman with a devoted boyfriend and the whole world ahead of her--Lee succumbed at age twenty to Reye's Syndrome, commonly considered a childhood illness. In The Lively Shadow, her father remembers the hell of her passing and the healing it took him years to finally experience.
From hearing the initial news that Lee was in the hospital and the four harrowing days spent by her bedside, to trying to teach, write, and love others while grieving, to learning to live at last with only Lee's memory, Donald Murray embarks upon a journey that is at once universal and informed by his own life's details. Whether he's feeling irrational guilt at not being able to protect his child or pulling off the highway to release a primal howl, the pain Murray feels brings him finally to a place of peace, an acceptance whereby he realizes "the most terrible experience in my life has also been a gift," requiring "a continuous celebration of the commonplace."
Unflinching in its honesty, The Lively Shadow is a beloved author's most impressive achievement--a book bound to be of continuing comfort to anyone who has lost a loved one, a touchstone on a topic few have written about, let alone addressed so openly.
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