Starting with Goodbye
A Daughter's Memoir of Love after Loss
in conversation with Christina Baker Kline
Wednesday, May 9, 7pm
Starting with Goodbye begins with loss and ends with love, as a midlife daughter rediscovers her enigmatic father after his death. Lisa has little time for grief, but when her dead dad drops in for “conversations,” his absent presence invites Lisa to examine why the parent she had turned away from in life now holds her spellbound.
Lisa reconsiders the affluent upbringing he financed (filled with horses, lavish vacations, bulging closets), and the emotional distance that grew when he retired to Las Vegas and she remained in New Jersey where she and her husband earn moderate incomes. She also confronts death rituals, navigates new family dynamics, while living both in memory and the unfolding moment.
In this brutally honest yet compelling portrayal and tribute, Lisa searches for meaning, reconciling the Italian-American father—self-made textile manufacturer who liked newspapers, smoking, Las Vegas craps tables, and solitude—with the complex man she discovers influenced everything, from career choice to spouse.
By forging a new father-daughter “relationship,” grief is transformed to hopeful life-affirming redemption. In poignant, often lyrical prose, this powerful, honest book proves that when we dare to love the parent who challenged us most, it’s never too late.
Lisa Romeo is part of the founding faculty in the Bay Path University MFA program, and works as a manuscript editor and consultant. Her nonfiction is among Notables in Best American Essays 2016, and is published widely in literary and popular media, including the New York Times, O The Oprah Magazine, Under the Sun, Brevity, Hippocampus, and more. Lisa is a former equestrian journalist, competitive rider, and public relations specialist. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and sons.
“Lisa Romeo’s compelling memoir is both a loving tribute to her adored father and a clear-eyed portrait of their complicated relationship. Reading it, you can’t help but reflect on your own familial bonds—but you may also find, as I did, that Lisa’s lovely writing and startling insights lead you into deeper territory, as she wrestles with questions of identity, mortality, and the vagaries of love.”
—Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World
“This is a brave and vulnerable book, like The Year of Magical Thinking. The energy of this book is leaping off the page with internal struggle. The writing moved me—gorgeous sentences. I felt the narrator’s presence so strongly and felt so connected to what she was going through, and what she had lost. It so beautifully reflects the ‘stuckness’ of grief, with a lack of sentimentality that is powerful.”
—Laraine Herring, author of Lost Fathers
“This book is a treasure. Lisa Romeo’s writing is an enormous comfort, reminding us that our relationships with loved ones never truly end, even in death.”
—Allison Gilbert, author of Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive; Always Too Soon: Voices of Support for Those Who Have Lost Both Parents; and Parentless Parents: How the Loss of Our Mothers and Fathers Impacts the Way We Raise Our Children
"Starting with Goodbye lives in the realm of the imagination where love continues beyond grief, where the living and the dead meet and sometimes know each other more deeply than life's demands and circumstances allowed. Lisa Romeo is a writer with exquisite restraint and precision, recounting a compelling, spiritually adventurous tale. A beautiful, honest, sometimes troubling, and triumphant book.”
—Richard Hoffman, author of Half the House and Love & Fury
"In Starting with Goodbye, Lisa Romeo wanders through the territory of grief, its borders blurred and variable, an unexpected land with room to connect with and understand her deceased dad in a deeply profound way. Written with careful and unwavering self-reflection, unraveling memories and inviting readers to glimpse the particular tenderness and complexity of their relationship. Her story inspires hope that love and reconciliation can bridge the space between life and death."
—Melanie Brooks, author of Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma
"Driven by curiosity, written with great tenderness, and executed with quiet mastery, Starting with Goodbye is a daughter’s love letter to her father. It is also a welcome reminder that our most intimate relationships don’t end with death but are transformed over time if our hearts are open, our spirits are attuned to mystery, and we are willing to carry on a different kind of conversation.”
—Katrina Kenison, author of Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment and The Gift of an Ordinary Day