Starting With Goodbye
by Lisa Romeo

University of Nevada Press, 2018. ISBN 978-1-943-85968-9.
Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
Posted on 04/02/2018

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Relationships

There's no going back. Not after death. The loss of a parent hurts and haunts the children, yet it is as inevitable as the joy of birth. A part of the circle of life. Lisa Romeo explores pain, unrequited guilt, obsession, and her continuing, improving relationship with her deceased father in Starting with Goodbye.

Author Lisa Romeo was a busy writer, wife, and mother living in New Jersey when her dad, living in Las Vegas, became ill. A strong, opinionated man who liked to smoke and read the Wall Street Journal, he funded her horse show obsession, took the family on first-class vacations, and made them feel privileged but under-appreciated. He never gave the emotional attention she craved.

So it's no surprise that she wouldn't rush to Las Vegas when she got a call about her dad's heart trouble or the uncertainties of Alzheimer's. She was not close to her dad, and that makes this book special: She chronicles their increasing closeness after his death. She goes so far as to talk with him when she sees him at her kitchen counter or in the mirror. As the years pass, as she continues to explore her story, as she develops more insight into family, heredity, and the father-daughter bond, he appears less often. Both her parents will always be with her. I understand, because mine are with me.

In precise prose and beautifully rendered detail, Romeo explores her life in the sandwich generation. With increasing depth and insight she develops the relationship she wished she had when he was alive. "Grief is how we work out what was wrong in the pre-death relationship," she says toward the end of the book. We've been with her on the journey that took her to each discovery.

Our connections with those we love don't always end with death. Any woman who has ever lost a father, any child who has ever lost a parent, anyone with a hole in her life that she keeps grieving should read this book. Romeo's narrative and analysis illuminate some tough issues and her ideas will spark insights into your own relationships.

Lisa Romeo is the author of Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter's Memoir of Love after Loss (University of Nevada Press May, 2018).

She works as an editor, teacher, and freelance book manuscript editor. Lisa's work is listed in Best American Essays 2016, and she has been nominated for additional BAE and Pushcart Prize awards.

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