Part memoir, part psycho-social commentary, Elegy for my Mother takes an unflinching look at the experience of death and those left behind in its wake. When her mother unexpectedly dies, Jenny, working as a musician and actress in Los Angeles, is compelled to fly to Seattle and make her way through a series of unimaginable events, from the shock of the news to the indictment of medical causes, a funeral, packing up her mother’s house- while coming to grips with not the prospect of a future without her.
An intimate accounting of the days and weeks of the first year following her mother’s death, Elegy is an accounting of the progression through grief into an entirely new life as the author returns home to find her own world in turmoil, echoing of the impact of the loss. As she makes her way through repeated emergencies, plagued by seemingly interminable housing issues and moving, her daughter’s crises, angry neighbors, family blowups and work deadlines- she grapples with the inevitability of her own changes. Weaved in among the challenges and still railing against the injustice of the loss, she begins to contemplate her mother’s difficult life and to map a course through her own, juxtaposing pain with a determination to survive in pursuit of relief and understanding.
“Jenny Leonhardt has written, in beautiful, descriptive, eloquent language, a eulogy not only to her mother but to all of us who are passing through and passing away. What changes in describing reality contact-fully and in the present, without politeness or withholding for the sake of self-protection– what changes then is the nature of love itself. We are inventing a new way to love. Or maybe a more adult way of loving each other honestly. The courage shown here is part of an even bigger growing up, right here on the edge of the affirmation of death itself. This is, some have said, the key to transcendence. And I am beginning to see and hear that coming from all quarters, including and especially this, Jenny’s wonderful book.”
Brad Blanton, Ph.D. author of Radical Honesty and other books