Review By Amy Colwell Bluhm, PhD

If you’re looking for a purely autobiographical timeline about the loss of a loved one, that’s not what this is about. If you’re looking for a polished, well-delineated grief manual, it’s not that either.

But if you don’t mind diving into the inner, non-linear healing process through poetry, reflective musing, and testimony: you’ve got it in I Am My Own Rug by Wauwatosa-native Mary Lou Bailey.

Bailey gives us a self-proclaimed quick read, “to be enjoyed over a few cups of coffee or glasses of wine.” The book is less like a teacher and more like a friend. Though it’s a quick read, it could no doubt serve as long-term solace for anyone who has lost a partner, to be read and re-read multiple times.

I can only imagine how it goes, to try to make “sense” of the sudden death of a partner. “Like one step forward, two steps back,” says Bailey. After reading this book, sense-making seems beside the point. “Someday,” says Bailey, “others will understand that better is wonderful and the first stepping stone to ‘ok’.”

A lovely bonus to the book is the beautiful, original artwork that illustrates each page. It makes it at once heart-rending and refreshing. And it’s highly personal (one artist was the closest friend of Bailey’s deceased husband, the other the father-in-law from her subsequent marriage) and the reader feels that.

Overall, this book is about finding your steady in a life that’s uncertain. Or, as Bailey puts it:

“I need to remember: I Am My Own Rug.
There isn’t a rug to hold you.
You are holding yourself.
And you can.”