Friday, March 5, 2010

A Divine LIFT--My Interview with Kelly Corrigan

LIFT (Voice) has arrived. I've anxiously awaited Kelly Corrigan's newest effort ever since I finished The Middle Place, one of my all-time favorite books. I cried like a baby when I read its last word--both because it's just that good and because it was over. I sent fan letters to Kelly applauding her amazing memoir. Now The Middle Place must make room on my favorite's shelf for Corrigan's latest, LIFT. The book is a single-sitting read. Kelly wrote this open letter to her daughters, Georgia and Claire. Like a spring breeze, the book wafts through my mind, caressing, lifting and reassuring me in my daily infusion and experiences with my children.

LIFT is about life;
lyrical, brutal and poignant. It's about mothers. And children. And the myriad of exquisite, excruciating experiences this journey provides. How does a mother go on after the death of a child? How does a woman, who is already a mother but without a child, become a mother? How do we reconcile the soaring joys and plummeting depths of parenthood? With LIFT, Kelly suggests that we do so with honesty, gratitude and grace.

Not surprisingly, Kelly delivers her message effortlessly, truthfully and poignantly, like a dear friend, with whom you're talking over a cup of joe or a lovely glass of wine.

On LIFT's debut day, Kelly and I met in New York and talked about LIFT and life.

When I arrived in her room, Kelly's makeup gal was glamming her up for the day's events and photo shoots. I felt like I got a sneak peek at the bride before her walk down the aisle. Kelly greeted me with one of her signature brilliant, flashing smiles and we dove in.

We talked about being mothers. We dished about consumerism. We laughed. We even cried a bit. We compared notes about parenting young girls who demonstrate period-like behavior and emotions YEARS before the actual period begins.

"It's just a simple fact--being a parent is hard", Kelly said, "so let's just all say it out loud."

Right on. Amen. Hallelujah.

Kelly says that yes, the book is a letter to her girls, but even more, it's a tribute to her Aunt Kathy and her dear pal, Meg--her muses and inspirations. Both women's tragic but touching stories provide guidance for Kelly as she navigates the perilous parenthood path.

Kelly's Aunt Kathy lost her child, Aaron, when he died in a car accident. Kathy dealt with his loss with grace. She reminds Kelly that she feels lucky--lucky that she got to know Aaron for 20 years. Through her grace, she provided Kelly, and now all of us, a brutal but poignant primer on being a parent. Risk, and even death, are part of the equation.

In LIFT, Kelly writes about her daughter Claire's brush with viral meningitis. When Kelly and her husband left the hospital, they tucked Claire into safest crooks of their bodies and hearts. Kelly reflected that this experience marked "the beginning how of I came to know what a bold and dangerous thing parenthood is. Risk was not an event we'd survived but the place where we now lived."

Kelly's dear friend, Meg, watched her 40th birthday approach and depart--and she wasn't married. She ached to be a mother; Kelly supported her with this sentiment, "I think you, in particular, were born to be somebody's mother."

During our conversation, Kelly tearily reflected on their experiences and said, "When you love someone, all you really want to do is lighten their load." Yup. We all know that feeling, that pit in the bottom of our empathic hearts that desperately wants to help lessen someone's grief, yet we can't quite find the words to permeate their pain. Kelly accomplished just that through LIFT. She did it for her Aunt Kath, she did it for Meg, and she did it for generations of mothers, current and future, by granting them the permission to be raw, true. LIFT grants all mothers a hall pass--all emotions embody a place and come with purpose.

As we talked about LIFT, Kelly encapsulated the book this way, "Because of Kathy and Meg's stories, it's a huge step for people. LIFT takes you back to a place of total gratitude. Don't forget--you are so lucky to have that kid sleeping in a room in your house." She went even further and said that if the only thing LIFT does is remind us to be grateful, then that's fine for her.

Before my chat with Kelly, I felt irked--more than usual--by the everyday chaos my children brought. Natural, normal, I know. Now I remember what I forgot: I must circle back and give thanks for the gifts the journey imparts. After our interview, I returned home to two sick children--and instead of letting the disequilibrium overwhelm me, I embraced it. I get to care for these children and help them feel safe and better. I'm honored.

True to form, after Kelly revealed her hope that everyone return to a place of gratitude, she quipped that once that gracious moment passes, we'll all still send our kids off to the basement, to watch a movie, because we need a break. Yeah, we're grateful, but that doesn't mean we love everything they do. We all must balance.


Kelly wrapped with this thought, "It's a very dangerous thing as a writer to try to write about parenthood when it's been done and overdone. It's very difficult to add anything new to the conversation. But [having kids] is the biggest thing that has ever happened to me. Meg's story really helped me keep it front and center--how divine it is."

I've read LIFT twice and I've purchased it for all the mothers and moms-to-be in my life. I've dog-eared and scribbled in my copy--the highest honor I can bestow on a book. It means I'll be back--for guidance, for a laugh, and for Kelly's honest, sage reminders that it's all real and all normal. As a result, I'll indulge in the daily divinities, even when laced with angst. Kelly, anytime you have something to say about motherhood or life, I'll listen. Thank you for sharing your story and by default, reminding me to live my own with more gratitude and grace. A divine LIFT.

30 comments:

Brian S. said...

My words are applied to this page coming not from the point of view of a parent, but from the perspective of knowing the behaviors of children on the streets who are void of the love described in Denise's words. Amazing review that not only captures the heart of what Ms. Corrigan conveys, but illustrates the common RESPONSIBILITY we ALL have as adults (regardless if you're a parent), to teach, demonstrate, protect and care for the little ones in our lives.

Lindsey said...

What a beautiful review, Denise. You highlight the beauty of the book and the ways that it echoes through our lives. I can't imagine a higher honor to a writer than to know that she encouraged us to be more grateful for our lives, disequilibrium and all.
xo

Marie said...

I want to read LIFT! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I too love Kelly Corrigan and have been waiting for her new book to come out - however, I have become more excited for the latest posting by Denise. With her depth and insight into parenting I am able to revel in my own feelings towards it. I have no biological children of my own but relish in the act of being an aunt... I do hope one day to have children of my own... but I know if I don't, I can experience the true and real honesty of parenting from the beautifully articulated Denise. Thank you for so effectively sharing your story with us - you are a beauty!

kkaram said...

I have been following struggle of 2year old Layla Grace and her fight against neuroblastoma. As a mother of two the thought of my child dying is more then I can take and I have been praying to treasure all the crazy moments with my children. Denise, this review speaks to everything I have been feeling and I believe LIFT will be on my must read list.

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog for some time and love what you have to say and your insights. Thanks for the great review and I look forward to your future posts!

Lauren E. said...

After reading your review, I am going out today to buy Kelly's new book. Having lost my brother this past summer, I know this book will bring me to tears. I will also buy it for my mom for she knows the unbearable pain of losing a child. I will report back once I have completed LIFT. Sounds like it might be tomorrow based on your review. :)

P.S. Must have been so exciting to meet Kelly!!!

Sue said...

I truly appreciate your perspective on being not just a parent, but a mom. I couldn't agree more that it is an honor to help raise these innocent, funny little people into becoming responsible and kind bigger people. Your interiew with Kelly Corrigan has encouraged me to pick up one of her books next time I am at the book store...she seems to "get it" as well!

Tara W said...

Love your perspective, Denise...and LIFT sounds like a must-read!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great review, Denise. I'll pass it on to my sisters who are mothers. You and your blog are an inspiration.

Carrie said...
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Carrie said...

You have inspired me to read LIFT through your beautifully written review D. I know I am truly blessed for getting to be a mother to my 2 beautiful children. I try to acknowledge these blessings every day yet I am often consumed by my fear of the "risks" you speak of. Being a mother really is like letting your heart live outside your body; coming to terms with how little you can actually control as a parent. Thank you for putting into words the love, fear, hopes, frustrations and joy that so many mothers endure.

Jennifer Stack, M.S., R.D., C.D.E. said...

I cried after reading one of your beautiful earlier posts and was hesitant to read the review of a book that talks about mothers and daughters. Miscarriages, not mommy-hood is my short history of becoming a mother.

But I am still being drawn to this book. I suspect I will gain as much from reading it as I will from sharing it with my sister who has 3 daughters. I have no doubt I will lift it off the book shelf when it presents itself to me.

Piper Pie said...

I read Kelly Corrigan's book the way I eat an Entenmann's Chocolate Fudge Cake after it accidentally falls into my shopping cart- I devoured it while locked away from my kids. :) I kept thinking- how do I best explain to all my friends why they HAVE to read this book?! Why it will inspire, amuse and amaze them.

Thankfully, all I need to do is direct them to your review, Denise. It is spot on fabulous. I am so excited to share your review of Lift and your other musings with every Mom I know. Cheers to you-and Kelly!
****** Piper Pie

Scott said...

What a GREAT review, which obviously reflects the power of this book. Often times, book reviews and interviews are clearly written by someone who barely read the inside flap. Thanks for taking a deeper dive and shedding some thoughtful perspective on this book and author.

Kim said...

(I hopped over from Stephanie's blog)

The Middle Place is one of my favorite books, so I will put this one of my list, too. I loved how she wrote about tough experiences with candor and wit. It's important to keep things in proper perspective, while nurturing and loving in the present.

Cindy said...

I read your review a few nights ago. Since then, I have often thought about the greatest gifts I have been given are my greatest accomplishments. After an extremely difficult evening, all three girls (ages 6, 4, and 2) in bed, I read your interview again and am reminded there are days, hours, evenings that test every limit of patience but in the wee small hours of the night, there is (a glass of wine and) gratitude that they are here and I love being a Mom. Thanks for your insight and can't wait to read LIFT.

Cassie said...

Next on my reading list!!!!

Mitzi said...

D, I just love your honesty and passion. You should write your own book. Your review was so wonderfully intense I am actually going to go get both books and read them. I did read about her in People or some magazine when her first book was published but didn't feel the urge to purchase the book. I do now. Thank you for that!!! By the way, MOM'S RULE!!! From a particularily prejudice point fo view.

Rita Hyland said...

Upon your recommendation, Denise, I went to see Kelly live last night here in Chicago! She read from both The Middle Place and Lift. We laughed. we cried. We felt everything she read as though we were with her in the moment. Thank you for sharing the insights that you do and for bringing atention to another fantastic woman among us!

Amie said...

This is one of the lovliest reviews I've read lately. And I am going to read this book. In fact, it sounds like it is exactly where my heart is right now. Most of the ascpects in my life are complex and difficult at present, but I have never felt luckier in my life because of my little girl. Motherhood is not easy. In fact, it is the hardest thing I have ever done. But it is also the most joyful.

Jamie said...

Hi. Found you through TMC. Great blog. Can't wait to read more so I signed up to follow. Have an amazing evening. Jamie

MaFerron said...

thank you for such an enlightening review. I am envious of your opportunity to impart such wisdom and energy from Kelly and she, from you. Oh to have been a fly on the wall at that interview. Headed out to get the book and anxious to hear Kelly speak when she comes to our local bookstore.

Anne P. said...

Can't wait to read LIFT! I love the idea of justifying all of my Mommy emotions through a book. The realm of emotions that you mention are really incredible! Prior to motherhood, I would have never guessed that so many could occur in one day (or in one sitting for that matter). No matter what the day held--those late night kisses on those sleeping cheeks make it ALL worth it! I waited a long time (40 years!!) for these precious boys. I am thankful for every minute! Headed to the bookstore tomorrow!

Anne P. said...
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marymac said...

I LOVED The Middle Place and I grew up in King of Prussia right near Kelly and have always wanted to meet her- you are so lucky! I LOVE this post- thanks so much for sharing!

(Thanks for visiting my blog today, too! wink!)

John W. said...

Denise, thank you for your perceptive, thought provoking review of LIFT. Speaking as a Dad of two grown girls, your review helped me review some of my memories in a new light, one of appreciation and love for the "little people" whom the Lord gave us.

Jeanne said...

I just bought my copy of LIFT and I look forward to starting it.

It appears that Ms. Corrigan has clearly articulated the internal dilemna a woman often tries to overcome.

Denise you did an amazing job of enticing your followers to get a great understanding of LIFT's content. . . .but of course left me we wanting more.

Thanks for your passion of this author and book. Ms. Corrigan and LIFT clearly had a great impact on you and I imagine her book will do the same for me.

Les said...

Lovely review! A fellow blogger (Stephanie's Written Word) suggested I read it when she saw that I was currently reading Lift. I held off reading your review until I finished writing my own. I have to say I'm quite envious that you had the opportunity to meet Kelly in person! I've been a fan since I first read The Middle Place. Actually, since I discovered Kelly's CircusOfCancer almost five years ago. What a remarkable woman!

Thanks for your amazing review. It looks like we have similar taste in books, so I'll be back. :)

UK said...

Kelly Corrigan has touched my heart with THE MIDDLE PLACE. She tells of the joys and pain and humor in family relationships. This is perhaps the most honest autobiography I've read. The emotions are so real that I feel them too. Stay well Kelly Corrigan!