Read This Book: The Bridge To Take When Things Get Serious by Lori Jakiela

LJ's book

In Lori Jakiela’s second memoir, The Bridge To Take When Things Get Serious, she writes near the beginning,  “Whatever our problems, my mother has always made it clear she loves me.  And I love her, desperately, in the way that daughters with fierce mothers often do.  I can’t separate my life from hers.”

It’s this fierceness — both in language and in characterization that shines in this book, which chronicles Jakiela’s return to her hometown after living in New York City for seven years while working as a flight attendant.  On the home front, she takes care of her dying mother, struggles to find herself as a writer, and finds love that begins a new part of her life as both a wife and a mother.

Jakiela’s book runs the gamut of emotions: readers will laugh when her mother, (who is old and not physically well) attacks a garter snake in the front yard convinced that it’s a copperhead:  “She jumps back and brings the shovel down again, this time on the snake’s lispy skull.  My mother has never looked stronger or more determined in her life.”   Readers will flinch, when in an emotional scene, her mother strikes out, seemingly ashamed at the news that her daughter is pregnant out of wedlock

And readers will cry when Jakiela herself mourns the loss of her mother. In one of the most heartfelt scenes (but a scene that Jakiela carries off without sentimentality) she talks about her son’s reaction to this death, explaining that he often plays with an old phone to talk to his deceased grandmother :

Sometimes, he’ll come and get me to play too.

                    “My old grandma, ” he’ll say.  “She wants to talk to you. He’ll say, “My old grandma’s on the phone.

 Boy, are you going to get it.”

Sometimes, I pick up.

I say, “Hi Mom.” I say. “Where’ve  you been?”

I say, “Locklin’s good.  He misses you.”

I say, “This skirt does not make me look fat.”

I say, “I love you, too.”

I say, “Goodbye.”

The Bridge To Take When Things Get Serious is an exploration of loss and grief, but it’s also an exploration of what it takes to move on after someone who has always been part of your life is gone. Indeed, Jakiela quotes a friend in her memoir, a wise friend who says, “When you lose your mother, you have to remake yourself.”  I lost my own mother over five years ago,  I think about this line a lot — what parts of me disappeared when my mother died?  How have I changed?  How I have not changed and why?  How have I remade myself?  Jakiela’s answer to her friend, one she records for the reader is this: “I can’t understand this. I never want to understand this.”  And we watch as Jakiela is forced to understand her loss and move on with her own life.

For more information about this book (and other work by Jakiela) visit Lori Jakiela’s blog/website.

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