Odyssey of Ashes: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Letting Go by Cheryl Krauter
Publisher: She Writes Press, (July 20, 2021)
Category: Memoir, Grief, Loss, Healing
Tour dates: August-September, 2021
Available in Print and ebook, 168 pages
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Description Odyssey of Ashes by Cheryl Krauter
Odyssey of Ashes: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Letting Go begins with the sudden death of Cheryl Krauter’s spouse. Five months later, in a stroke of irony and magic, her husband wins a long-desired guided fly-fishing trip in a raffle―and Cheryl decides to go in his place, fulfilling a promise to scatter his ashes by a trout stream.
Part I of this memoir is an account of the first year after Cheryl’s husband’s death, where she becomes an explorer in the infinite stream of grief and loss, a time traveler between the darkness of sorrow and the light of daily life. Part II concludes with stories of the poignant and humorous adventures she had during the ensuing year. Tying it all together and woven throughout is Cheryl’s account of the creation of an altar assembled during the three-day ritual of Los Días de los Muertos.
Poetic and mythological, Odyssey of Ashes is a raw story of loss and the deep transformation that traveling through darkness and returning to light can bring.
Advance Praise Odyssey of Ashes by Cheryl Krauter
“Cheryl Krauter’s latest memoir, Odyssey of Ashes, is both a moving tribute to her late husband John and the celebration of an emergent woman who finds herself “being carried on great winds across the sky” in a cradle of intermittent sorrow and enlightenment. Written in an enjoyable flowing format with chapters divided between two main sections, Krauter’s book will break your heart while channeling habits of self-pity toward doing a greater good.. you’ll find good examples of ways to carry on… Krauter shares personal, interesting anecdotes. I highly recommend this book for those who’ve lost a spouse and want to understand how one woman is working through it.”- Shawn LaTorre, Story Circle Book Reviews
“In this engrossing memoir, Krauter shares her journey through the deep waters of grief. Her graceful writing reminds us that the cycle of love and loss is as natural as the river current, and it is only through fully embracing the force of the waters that dry land can eventually be found.” -Allison J. Applebaum, Ph.D., director of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Caregivers Clinic and editor of Cancer Caregivers
“What a moving book about loss and mourning. Cheryl finds solace in, among other things, trout fishing, rituals, Buddhist wisdom―and, luckily for us, writing about her experiences.”-A.J. Jacobs, editor-at-large of Esquire magazine and author of Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey
“With profound insight, Cheryl explores the spiritual nature of life and death, the sacred connection between love and loss, life and death. A work of depth and infinite caring, this book is ultimately a gift of love, hope, and survival.”-Cindy Rasicot, author of Finding Venerable Mother: A Daughter’s Spiritual Quest to Thailand
About Cheryl Krauter
(c) Nan Phelps
CHERYL KRAUTER is a San Francisco bay area psychotherapist with more than forty years of experience in the field of depth psychology and human consciousness. A cancer survivor, she is the author of Surviving the Storm: A Workbook for Telling Your Cancer Story (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Psychosocial Care of Cancer Survivors: A Clinician’s Guide and Workbook for Providing Wholehearted Care (Oxford University Press, 2018). She lives with her personal assistant, a cat named Amie.
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Follow this Book Tour by Cheryl Krauter Below
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My Review of Cheryl Krauter’s Odyssey of Ashes
odyssey/ˈädəsē: a long and eventful or adventurous journey or experience.
The loss of your spouse is one of the hardest things to go through. When Cheryl unexpectedly lost John, her husband from a heart attack her world drastically changed. This memoir is about Cheryl’s journey after her husband’s death. Fulfilling a trip that her husband won after his death was his ‘trip of a lifetime.’ She had enjoyed fly fishing with John many times but never had she gone on a trip alone.
Although this is not about the book itself, I struggled while reading this book as my brother-in-law of 28 years passed away during me reading this book. I wrote about Craig here. And my husband had suffered from 2 heart attacks a year ago in June. I think the 2 things intermingled for me while reading this book and made me question things such as what would I do if I was in Cheryl’s situation?
Craig passed away on July 15, 2021, after fighting for 18 months from his January 10, 2020 vehicle accident. His death was honestly a surprise as he seemed to have been doing well. (for Craig). We feel that possibly he was tired of fighting and being in pain for so long. So to say the least my mind wasn’t as focused while reading this book as it should have been.
From the start of the book, it is one that keeps you engaged. Cheryl allows you to feel what she is feeling to an extent and allows you to know the feelings that she is feeling.
The “Odyssey of Ashes” made a lot of sense to me as I read because Cheryl taking John’s ashes to his final resting place made so much more sense to me. I loved how everything was so neatly woven together.
I hope you enjoy the excerpt below. If you enjoy the excerpt below, I know you will enjoy the book too!
Excerpt from Odyssey of Ashes
John died five months before the trip we’d planned with Bill and Shash, I was scared that it would be too painful to go without John. In my heightened vulnerability, I was also worried that Bill and Shash might not want to go with me when I was still so raw with grief. In the end, I decided to keep the reservation, and I was relieved and touched when Bill told me they were glad I’d decided to do so and were looking forward to spending time with me in Tahoe.
Four people have become three.
I drive up alone, and I will spend a few days by myself until my friends arrive. I am doing okay on the way until I pass by the infamous Cisco Grove spot. I guess I am still okay after that because I keep driving—though I probably should pull over until I stop sobbing.
I have brought John’s ashes in the little carrying case from Sunset View Mortuary. I can’t bear to go to Tahoe without him, so he sits in the passenger seat beside me in his small, but rather heavy, box on the way up.
Upon arriving at the same spot we were all together in a year ago, I haul everything up the stairs. As I struggle with a case of wine, I notice some men standing by the nearby barbecue; they clearly see me floundering but do nothing to help me. Well, I think to myself, this is how it is now. Thirty years ago, those guys would have been falling all over themselves to help me. Last year, John carted the heavy stuff up the stairs. Now my goddamn husband is dead and I’m lugging the freakin’ wine up the stairs alone, one step at a time.
I’m glad when my friends arrive. The next day, during a light snowfall, we decide to hike a familiar trail as the soft, silent snowflakes fall and glisten on evergreen branches, the wind gently scattering their whiteness around us. The three of us trudge across the crunchy ground in silence. On the path, a rare remaining fall leaf startles our vision with reds and browns. When it stops snowing, sunlight shines on the branches of the towering, ancient trees arching above us. The freshness of the cold mountain air fills our lungs, and the wind stings and reddens our checks.
We’re hiking through the sparkling, shimmering, white, wintry world to get back to the car when the infernal ring of my cell phone disrupts our peaceful day. Annoyed by something that is completely within my control (after all, I not only brought the phone but also neglected to turn off the sound), I ignore it until we get back to the car.
After I’m seated in the car, I open my voice mail to the voice of John’s fellow fly-fishing aficionado, Peg.
“Hello, Cheryl, it’s Peg Miskin,” she says. “I hope you’re hanging in, and I have some news for you. The Casting for Recovery Gala was last night, and at the last minute I decided to include John’s ticket in the raffle and threw it into the hopper with all of the other entries.” She pauses. “Cheryl . . . I drew his name. John won the float trip. I fell apart and was too overcome to read it out loud; I had to hand it to someone else to announce.”
She wants to offer me the trip, she says, to give me a chance to go and fulfill John’s dream.
John purchased that ticket just a month prior to his death this spring, and now, after so many years of disappointing losses, he has finally won a prize that was on his bucket list: a guided fly-fishing float trip for two down the Madison River in Montana. The Madison River, known as a mecca for fly-fishing, is one of the great rivers of the world and runs through the epicenter of what many think of as the best fly-fishing region on the planet.
As I sob in the car, I marvel at the cruel joke the Genie of the Bucket List has played. From the back seat, Shash places her gentle, cool hands on my shoulders and silently holds me as I shudder. Thoughts and feelings pour out of me as I wail, “He wanted this so badly, and he’ll never get to go. This was his trip, and now he finally won and it’s too late. How can this happen?”
Bill, sitting in the driver’s seat next to me, says quietly but firmly, “He got to fish a lot of rivers that he wanted to fish. He’d want you to go.”
But this isn’t on my bucket list. And yet maybe, in some unknown way, it was meant to be my trip all along. As sometimes happens, like when I was diagnosed with cancer, it’s not the journey I would have chosen. Yet these are the cards that have been laid before me, and I know I will play the hand I’ve been dealt.
Is it a kind of madness to live out the dream of another? This question will plague me as the future I anticipated disintegrates into ash and I find myself contemplating bringing John to Montana in a small, plastic bag to one of the great rivers of his desires, fulfilling a wish on a bucket list that does not belong to me.