Title: Even If I’m Not: The Greatest Loss. The Way Forward. A Mother’s Story
Israel Bookshop Publications
Even If I’m Not is a riveting and moving story that hooked me from its opening sentence. It is a true story, cleverly written in the present tense as though the journey is just beginning and the reader is invited to come along. Though Devorie Kreiman’s story is one I already knew, the quality of the writing pulled me through to its compelling conclusion.
It is with rare raw openness that the author describes her life after the drowning of her twenty-three-year-old son Yossi, six weeks before his wedding. What makes this memoir even more poignant is that Devorie Kreiman and her husband had, over the years, buried four infants who were born to them with an uncommon mitochondrial disorder.
This is a family that lost more than half of their children. The decision to recount, in luminous detail, the journey of surviving her unfathomable grief, is testament of the tenaciousness of Devorie Kreiman’s and her faith in the purpose of life.
The book does not hold back. The honesty of its prose is as refreshing as it is validating. The first year – month by month – throughout the painstaking process of healing, the reader witnesses Devorie’s struggle to maintain her faith and good humor and her relationships with friends and family. In doing so, she grants permission to every aching heart to feel their own particular brand of pain.
Devorie Kreiman is not aghast at risk-taking either. She hints that her commitment to authenticity comes at the price of inner voices of reprimand, “Why so dramatic, Devorie?”
In one moving scene, she describes circling her son’s grave seven times on the day of his would-have-been/should-have-been wedding – as we do under the wedding canopy – then running away from the cemetery with muddy boots, leaving them there, and going home in socks. It’s moments like these that stayed with me long after I closed the book.
There are also unexpected flashes of humor that make this book a perfect read. Like the time Devorie lowered herself onto her bedroom floor to ease the backache she was experiencing, and got a good look at the dust gathered there, under dust ruffles her mother had bought for her when she got married. “Everything in our new life, even our dust, had to be ruffled and prettied.” Then, “I really need to sweep under the beds!”
Devorie Kreiman shows how, even while grieving, one can make room for the heartache of others. And she wills herself to integrate the lessons she’s learned in tiny monumental steps.
One of the things I really enjoyed about Even If I’m Not is getting to know Yossi. Devorie shares her funny, smart, warm-hearted, nature-loving son so well that by the time the book ends, I felt his presence and appreciated what he achieved in this world.
Thankfully, Devorie Kreiman chose not to remain silent. She uses her unique circumstances as an opportunity to deepen awareness for how to heal. We’re shattered by her story, and then…slowly…we’re put back together again as we journey with her. And still with her, we do not return to what we once were. Rather, we emerge, as she describes it, “more tender, more careful with each other…and most of all, more loving.”
Even If I’m Not does exactly what it sets out to do. It takes the reader on a harrowing but immensely purposeful journey, offers the privilege of an unprecedented glimpse at the inner workings of accomplishing the impossible.