New Essay up at Ploughshares!

In which I tackle life, death, love and how long it took me to read my husband’s favorite book, On the Road. Excerpt below, read the whole piece here.

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“It took four years for a glioblastoma, a brain cancer that has a median survival rate of fourteen months, to take my mom’s life. It took me those same four years to read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. My now-husband Matt gifted me the book during our first weekend together, turning it over and over in his hands, pointing out the design details that mimicked those from the first edition. He’d read it in college, when he started writing, and it propelled his move from Denver to the Bay Area. Since then, he had frequented the Beats’ Northern California haunts: North Beach, Vesuvius Café, Specs’, City Lights, Big Sur.

The book had also helped him during the experience I was now facing: his father had died two years earlier from the same brain cancer my mother had just been diagnosed with. In the last months that his dad was alive, Matt, who wrote on the side while working in finance, temporarily relocated from the Bay Area to Missouri to live with his parents. The days were dedicated to his dad while the nights were spent trying to preserve the experience, writing about the beauty he found within the grief. As he wrote, he found kinship with Kerouac, a man who felt transformed by the loss of his own father.”


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