I wore "Fire and Ice" - a review of Kellie Curtin's wonderful book.
Updated: Sep 29, 2020
What will I wear to you funeral? is a wry, loving, moving account of one daughter's journey through her mother's breast cancer and death, through the lens of lipstick colours.
There are many, many accounts of the end of life journey from a personal perspective, but what stands out for me in Curtain's book is the heart-wrenching normalcy of the family interactions described and explained in the book. I particularly appreciate the way that brothers and husband alike are presented throughout the book as beloved, three-dimensional personalities - because all too often the people in books which recount emotionally-charged times in our lives become flat embodiments of stereotypes or personal grudges. Not so here. Curtain permits readers a look at genuine family traditions, quirks, and patterns, all considered through a supportive, compassionate and loving lens.
On a note of transparency, I met Ms. Curtain at the recent AIFP conference, where we were treated to not one, but two sessions moderated by Curtain. A former journalist, Curtain has been an advocate for the Breast Cancer Network Australia and - very dear to my heart as my regular Gentle Readers are aware - Advance Care Planning Australia. As I was a panel member for the conference, I had a phone interview with Ms. Curtain and was impressed by her humour in person, her compassion, and her capacity to truly listen. When I read the book all of these qualities shone through the memoir writing - and if you have the opportunity to see Kellie Curtain speak at an event I urge you to attend if you can.
What will I wear to your funeral? is thoughtfully-written, and the humorous story had me simultaneously in tears while laughing quietly to myself many times, and is one of the best 'reads' to come my way in a long time. My recommendation? Grab your brightest and loudest lipstick shade, apply with gusto, and settle in with an open heart and a box of tissues nearby. Pro tip: pick a good friend or two who may have struggled with the death of someone they loved dearly, this book is a salve and a hopeful light that may bring some new perspectives to them.