Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

13.  A book with a one word title

A friend highly recommended Wave and loaned it to me. I warily eyed it on my desk for weeks.  I knew what it was about, and I wasn't sure if I could handle it. The author's personal account of the Indian Ocean Tsunami that struck Indonesia and Sri Lanka the day after Christmas in 2004.  The author and her family were vacationing at the beach when the tidal wave struck. It killed the author's husband, young children, and parents along with close to 250,000 other people.

This is a memoir of unspeakable grief. I found myself bursting into tears again and again. How could a mother live after her whole family is senselessly killed?  How do you even begin to make sense of life after such horrifying loss?

I believe this could be a bible for someone who has gone through loss and is experiencing grief. I can really relate to the idea that grief is such a personal experience and no two people grieve the same way.  Certainly Sonali's grief is deep and profound and in her memoir we see how unique it is compared to others. Initially she strives to disconnect from her memory and it is only when she allows it in that she begins to function.

I kept expecting her to meet a wonderful man and fall in love again and begin to build her life, but the book simply ended with 7 years passage of time and the brief realization that every day heals her a bit but she will never fully be healed. I was really taken with the notion that she never tells anyone her story.  That when she meets strangers on planes who ask her about family she tells them she has none. To tell strangers the truth of her grief is too great a burden to put on anyone. She recoils at the thought of sharing that part of her.  When I think about that magnitude of loss, I wonder too, if I wouldn't make the same choice.

This is a three hanky book, a fast read, but you'll need to stop and dry your eyes many times.  I highly recommend it, but only if you can wade into grief that is terribly deep and wide.  I can't be certain yet but I think somehow this book has changed me.

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