Review of
THE SPACE BETWEEN: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love
By Janet Newcomb

Something happens to us at a certain age. As adolescents we were chomping at the bit to be adults, and adulthood was pretty exciting for a while – until we slowly evolved from offspring to parent to caregiver. As a bereavement care specialist, Dr. Virginia Simpson has devoted her career to counseling individuals and families grappling with illness, death, and grieving. You may remember her as the woman who created The Mourning Star Center for grieving children in Palm Desert a couple of decades ago. (
“I would love to see people have compassion for each other, so that no one would feel the need to hide their sadness,” she once remarked. “I wish, when someone we love dies, people would ask what that person meant to us, rather than placing a label on the loss and assuming it meant nothing, thereby leaving us alone when we most need their love and friendship. I would like people to tell children the truth about life: Teach them at a very young age about death, when they are curious, so they won’t have to grow up afraid. I would love for us all to have compassion for others who hurt and for ourselves when it is our time to hurt. No one should ever apologize for tears because they only mean we have loved and we miss the person we lost and the life we shared together.”
When Virginia’s widowed mother, Ruth, was hospitalized in Los Angeles with a life-threatening blood clot in her leg, it was evident that she needed a caregiver, and before long she moved Ruth into her home in Indian Wells where the two argued, rehashed the past, and ultimately worked out the kinks. As you might imagine, the two women had their ups and downs, and Virginia’s observations about the family history – her abusive brother, her father’s untimely death, her mother’s failing health – are variations on the themes of many families. This thoughtful memoir touches all women and should be on every nightstand to remind us that relationships with our mothers are wonderful and complicated. As reviewer Susan Salluce has noted, “The Space Between is a beautiful story … even though mothers and daughters may feel guilt, self-doubt, shame, frayed, worried, scared, frustrated, drained, overwhelmed, or humiliated, at the end of life, all they want to feel is love.”
Dr. Simpson will be signing “The Space Between” at Barnes & Noble in Palm Desert on Saturday, April 23, from 1:00 until 3:00. It’s a paperback, so you might want to pick up an extra copy to give to a friend.
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