Bingo Square: True Story
Nora McInerny knows loss. In the space of a few weeks she lost a pregnancy, her father, and her husband. In the aftermath she wrote a memoir, It’s Okay to Laugh, and started a podcast, Terrible, Thanks for Asking, both of which were well received and successful. She was suddenly an expert on navigating grief and often called upon to talk about it.
But then a crazy thing happened. She fell in love again. And within a few months they were expecting a child together and trying to figure out how to blend their families. McInerny was happy but also still sad. She still loved her husband who had died. She didn’t know how to be happy and in love while also carrying around these other feelings. Was this allowed? Could she have it and not feel guilty? No Happy Endings explores all this with humour and heart-felt honesty.
I read McInerny’s first memoir and cry-laughed through most of it. That one is much more hard hitting than this, since it deals full on with her husband’s cancer diagnosis and death. But it’s not a misery memoir and neither is this. It’s funny and plain talking while also being sad at times. McInerny refuses to tie up her life with a bow for everyone. Yes, she has a lovely life now. She has found another love and had another family, but that doesn’t mean she’s done with her previous life, or that she doesn’t miss it. For her there’s no such thing as ‘closure’. There’s just a mess of feelings and working through it and trying to be happy even when conflicted about it. She also talks about dealing with other people’s expectations and how you can’t worry about that. Which is easier said than done, but something I’m trying to take to heart as I get older. I don’t have to deal with other people’s judgements about my love life as a recent widow but I do tend to keep my own opinions to myself, especially on social media, so as not to rock the boat or draw attention to myself (since I can’t stand confrontation). But as she says,
A world where we receive zero criticism is a world where we are not contributing, where we are living at the very baseline of our abilities… It is a world where I am smaller for the comfort of others, and for my own safety.
And that hits me hard. She’s very smart and a brilliant writer and I really recommend this and her previous book.