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The Last Goodbyes

Q&A with Christopher Buckley, author of<i> Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir</i>.

Q: You'd resolved not to write about the deaths of your parents [conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. and socialite Patricia Taylor Buckley, who died within a year of each other], but then you wrote Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir. What happened?

A: It wasn't planned at all. I just sat down and started writing. It sounds trite to say, but there are books you want to write and others I guess you have to write. This book fell into the latter category. It poured out of me.

Q: Did writing it help with your grief?

A: There is an inherently healing aspect to writing a book like this. It was also a way of spending extra time with my parents.

Q: You found a way to write about death that isn't depressing.

A: Like finding out it costs $7,000 for cremation services? I didn't immediately think of parody, but flashing back on it, I found the humor. When your parents die, you move closer to the river Styx, so my original title for the book was You're Next. Then I realized it's kind of frightening.

Q: It's been said that the relationship with one's parents doesn't end with their loss, but it does change.

A: It never goes away, and they never go away. Your parents are your ultimate protectors, and no matter what difficulties you're having with them when they're alive, you can always pick up the phone and hear their voices. They provide a certain level of comfort—just knowing they're there. They're like fire extinguishers mounted on the wall behind glass. You know if it really comes to it, you can break the glass. And now they're gone.