I have become a lazy reader in recent years. In order to get back into a reading routine and make myself more accountable, I challenged myself to read 40 books by the time I am 40. I am, ahem, 33 years old which only means about 5 books a year so it will probably be more, but 40 by 40 has a nice ring to it so I’m leaving it
Book number 18 (almost halfway!) in my reading goal is We are Water by Wally Lamb. You may know Wally Lamb from his previous works: She’s Come Undone, I Know This Much is True, and The Hour I First Believed. My all-time favorite book is She’s Come Undone. If you have not read it, you must!!! It was one of Oprah’s Book Club selections years ago which put it on the map. It’s a given since She’s Come Undone is my favorite book, that I will read all of Lamb’s works. We Are Water was published in 2013, and I have been waiting patiently for the library’s copy to become available. I was so excited to read it, and this book does not disappoint.
We Are Water is the story of the Oh family from Three Rivers, Connecticut. Annie, her husband Orion, and their 3 children’s world is rocked when the couple gets divorced after 27 years of marriage. Annie has chosen to remarry Viveca, in Connecticut where gay marriage has recently become legal. As the wedding approaches Annie, as well as other members of the family, are forced to face their painful past which is littered with death, heartache, abuse, and secrets. Secrets consume this family. What is the exact nature of Annie’s past? What is the history of the paintings discovered on the Oh property? What is the real reason for Orion losing his job? We Are Water is an intense novel with layers of history, family, and again, secrets.
We Are Water is told from alternating points of view, Annie, Orion, the kids, as well as people from the past. Lamb leaves you hanging several times, as the storyline shifts to another character, and we have to wait to find out what happens next. These are a couple of reasons why I enjoyed this book so much. The character voices are so vivid, honest, and vulnerable that you want everyone in the family to be happy. The novel is full of drama and some super intense and graphic moments when aspects of the past are remembered in the current day. Some moments of suspense keep you turning the pages and keep you up past your bedtime!!
I started this blog on August 19, two years ago, in hopes of creating some good karma for the day. My father-in-law died on August 19th, 2004 and it has been a hard day ever since. I know it’s just a day, a number, and the 19th doesn’t make him any more dead than any other day of the year. But it’s still brutal. The teens of August are miserable for me. The 19th. It’s the last teen so it seems endless til the day arrives, we grieve once again, and then life seems normal again.
One thing people don’t say about grief, is that you remember ever aspect of the death day. I wish I didn’t. I wish I didn’t remember the joy and elation in my husband’s voicemail when I heard he would be home on Friday for the weekend. Then my heart breaking at the next message when he told me his dad was dead. Then listening to the next message as my husband’s aunt wanted to desperately know where my husband was so she could let him know the tragic news. I know exactly where I was. The weather. The feelings. My heart dropping. I remember the instant in which I knew my life had changed forever. My father-in-law, the only parent my husband had ever known, was gone.
Looking back at this day, 11 years later, it isn’t any damn easier. I have previously written about grief but seeing our kids interact with my parents, it becomes harder and harder to deal with the fact that they will never know their other Grandpa. We call him Grandpa Philo. I occasionally call them “shitheads” because my husband was jokingly called that as a little boy.
We try to keep the memory alive, but it is difficult. Little girls can’t really understand/comprehend the fact. But we still try. They didn’t understand he saved a baby high chair for us. They don’t understand how he would have laughed endlessly at their antics. They don’t understand there is a whole other family they don’t know because of family drama. We tell stories so Fofo is beginning to understand Papa’s Papa is dead. I look forward to the day when she asks to hear stories about him. But I dread the day too. I don’t have too many stories because he was taken from us too soon. He deserved to be a grandfather. He deserved to meet them. But that isn’t how life works. It’s hard. And we grieve. And yet we smile when we see the little bit of Grandpa Philo in each of our girls.
To August 19th, I give a giant FUCK YOU. And I also raise a Calvert and coke. We miss you man. Gone too soon, but love you forever.