The Mercy Papers: A Memoir of Three Weeks by Robin Romm
|August 17, 2009||Posted by Christine Gordon Manley under Memoir, Non-fiction|
The Mercy Papers is not an easy read, but it is an important and powerful one. Author Robin Romm invites the reader along for the final three-week journey of her mother’s life: her mother is dying from cancer. Once a powerful human-rights attorney, Jackie struggles with losing all aspects of control, right down to the dosage of pain medication she takes. For three weeks, Robin writes of her family’s isolated state as they wait for Jackie to die. They live in their own little silo where time is measured by medication dosages and where days pass unnoticed.
And while the subject of death and dying is serious and heartbreaking, Robin manages to knock down barriers between what is taboo and what is allowed to be discussed; what should make a person cry, and what, instead, causes them to laugh; and, most importantly, what is about the dying patient, and what is really about those soon-to-be left behind. Reading about such an intimate time in Ms. Romm’s life could feel like an unwanted privacy violation; however, the author not only forces us to deal with the subject of dying as she literally places us in the death room, but she also makes it okay. She gives grief a human face.
Through this intense three-week memoir, based on such a painful time in the Romm family’s life, Robin maintains a refreshing sense of humour and perspective that allows her pain to not only be felt, but also one to be shared. At the end of the memoir, I wanted to seek out Ms. Romm and give her a big supportive hug. Since I couldn’t do that, I did the next best thing: I hugged my own mother.
This book is not morbid or dark or heavy reading. While the subject may be, the writing style allows it to be read. It needs to be read.