Trigger warnings: addiction, adult child loss, grief
This was such a hard book to read, even if it was amazing. I lost a cousin to suicide, among a few other episodes of grief, and so much of it hit home. Stephanie Wittels Wachs may not be as well known as her brother Harris, the Parks and Recreation writer / comedian who died of an overdose in 2015, but she’s a hell of a writer.
“Dad’s notes to you feel especially poignant in hindsight. Reading through them now feels like an exercise in Greek tragedy. I want to cry out to the protagonist, ‘Hey! You’re doomed! Pay attention! Take another path!‘ But that’s the thing about Greek tragedy: the hero’s downfall is inevitable. That’s why it’s so tragic. The audience feels pathos because they know what’s coming but can’t do anything to stop it.”
“I spend hours trying to figure it out. Sifting through emails, listening to voicemails, interrogating your friends. Nothing. There is nothing to figure out because there is no case to crack. You were an addict, and it was a stupid, senseless fucking accident. It’s as tragically simple as that.”
Wittels Wachs takes all the conflicting feelings that come with losing a loved one who had a hand in their loss and distills them to their essence. Pretty much everyone I’ve met who has been in this situation says the same thing: you wish they were alive so you could hug them and slap them full on the face. She does an admirable job conveying the anguish the family experiences while celebrating her brother, and it makes for a poignant and heartbreaking read.