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More Bright Moments


This summer, in an attempt to describe my memoir and the reason(s) I wrote it, this was as succinct but detailed a summary as I could come up with:

When my mother died in 2002 at the age of fifty-nine, I found myself both shattered and honored to have been a witness. In order to live and to keep her memory alive, I needed to make sense of her death.

I knew I would inevitably write about her, but I wasn’t certain what form the material would take. Eventually I realized it could be –it had to be– a memoir. The result is Please Talk about Me When I’m Gone.

The antagonist of this particular tale is cancer, but implicit in the narrative is an appreciation that a struggle with illness—and the ways it can unite or disintegrate families—is a true story for too many people. It can be a horror story or a ghost story, a love story and a real-life fairy tale, where memory and devotion are capable of outlasting death.

My ultimate goal is to raise awareness, and I will be working closely with cancer-affiliated groups and charities to raise funds. My experience has reinforced a belief that nobody should (or need to) go through this alone: if my memoir builds solidarity and empowers anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation, I know I’m honoring my mother’s memory in a way she would advocate.

I’ve been delighted to meet some fascinating people (and hear some of their sad, inspiring and happy stories) these past few months. I’ve also been gratified to work with –and for– some remarkable organizations, like the Lombardi Center @ Georgetown and Hospice of the Piedmont. It was meaningful on several levels to raise money for these groups, and I look forward to doing much more of this in 2014 –and beyond.

With his permission, I’m sharing the message I received this morning from James Avery, the CEO of Hospice of the Piedmont. It speaks volumes about the kind of person he is, the type of organization he represents (much more on that HERE), and why I am dedicated to doing as much as possible to assist them in their work. It also is nice validation that I’ve achieved a portion of what I set out to do. In a year full of bright moments, this is a big one, and one I’ll carry with me for a long time.

If you’ve read the book and want to help, check out these organizations. Consider a donation. Contemplate leaving a review for my memoir @ Amazon and/or; word-of-mouth is still the most effective method for getting the word out. Tell a friend, buy it as a gift for someone. And above all, stay healthy and have a safe, happy holiday season!


—–Original Message—–
From: James Avery
To: Murph <>
Sent: Thu, Dec 19, 2013 8:44 am
Subject: Thank you! Thank you!

Dear Sean,
I just wanted to thank you for everything you are saying and doing in your book.
Liz Nottingham, one of our incredible board members at Hospice of the Piedmont, bought a bunch of copies and she brought some of them to our hospice board meeting.
I just had to write you. Your book was incredibly honest, insightful, perceptive, touching, and hard-hitting. Not many books do all of those things. I especially loved the pictures, the conversations, the fight, the discussions about faith, the ending etc. Your love for your mother and your honesty made for a poignant story.
I don’t think a single person will be able to read this book and remain the same person – it will compel people to change. The world is a better and happier place because you wrote this book.
I just had to let you know.
I wish for you and your entire family a blessed Christmas and a New Year overflowing with joy, peace, love, and hope,
Chief Executive Officer, Hospice of the Piedmont
675 Peter Jefferson Parkway, Suite 300
Charlottesville, Virginia 22911

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Speak Your Mind


When I started Sean’s book, I read a section and said to myself, ‘I’m going to email Sean to tell him how amazing that sentence is.’ Then as I read a little further I thought, ‘No, I’m going to email Sean to tell him what an amazing depth of knowledge and perception he’s giving us.’ And then, yes, you got it, on the very next page he wrote something that made me think, ‘His Mom is looking down on Sean with unending love for what he just wrote. This is one amazing book!

– May 27, 2015

Donald R. Gallehr, Director Emeritus, Northern Virginia Writing Project