Tate Publishing (2011)
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (10/11)
There are books that one reads for the pleasure of enjoying a truly beautiful written piece. There are those one reads for the plot. Or the ones read when we need a solution to a particular problem, or help with something that bothers us deeply. Those boundaries are rarely crossed, and I can not recall too many beautifully written self-help books about any subject, and even less so about something as deeply moving as the story Linda Campanella wrote in this incredibly touching tribute to her mother.
“When All That’s Left of Me Is Love”, subtitled “A Daughter’s Story of letting Go,” tells us about the last year that Ms. Campanella spent with her mother before losing her to terminal cancer. While death is always such a scary thought, and the death of a parent something I am reluctant to even think of, Ms. Campanella managed a remarkable feat of balancing her grief with the joy of having had that one precious last year to spend with her mother.
The story within “When All That’s Left of Me Is Love” made me think about a lot of things, and realize how blessed I am to still have my mother in my life. It made me reflect on all that we do or omit to do in relationships that we hold dear, it made me re-evaluate my priorities and rethink my views on death and dying. Most importantly it made me realize that there is a dignified way of dealing with grief while still enjoying every precious moment we might be given with somebody loved by us. As Ms. Campanella said, “There was more living to do.”
“When All That’s Left of Me Is Love” is a wonderful memorial to a wonderful mother, but also a testament of how wonderful mothers help shape wonderful daughters and wonderful families, for I am certain that without that priceless influence Ms. Campanella, her siblings, and her father would not have been able to cope with the situation half as well as they did. While this book is poignant in its pain and heart wrenching in many of its parts, it is first and foremost a celebration of an unending love between a daughter and her mother as well as a life lived well.
It matters little whether you are facing a similar situation as the one the author faced, or if you are simply looking for some solace at a later date, this is one book that you would want to have at hand when the need arises. Sentimental, but not soppy, sad, yet incredibly filled with joy, and above all filled with dignity and strength, “When All That’s Left of Me Is Love” is an unforgettable book.