An Excerpt from “The Embrace,” an essay on grieving the death of my father
If it’s possible, in the wake of a parent’s death, for that parent to retreat to the point where he or she is barely thought of, I don’t know it. My father, dead nearly twenty years ago, remains an absent presence, or a present absence, not because I long for something from him, not in the way a child is taken over by a longing that will inevitably remain unfulfilled, but because, given the gaps and silences and concealments in his life, or his life as I know it, I am continually trying to reconstruct a version of him that will make sense to me, to track a path through what I know and don’t know, to incorporate both him and his death. Which is not grief but what grows out of it. Not one story but stories.
The whole essay appears in The Heart Does Break: Canadian Writers on Grief and Mourning and can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.ca/The-Heart-Does-Break-Canadian/dp/0307357031/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
the only question worth asking of a story … is, "Is it dead or alive?”
- Mavis Gallant
Catherine’s contributions to UBC’s optional-residency MFA audio downloads can be heard here (2009-2006). Scroll down to 2006 for her instructor talk: "Why Fiction Matters: Some Thoughts on Realism, Authenticity and Conviction"
"to create life which does not eat, procreate or drink but which can live in people who are alive."
- Henry Green on writing