A suitcase, a jar… and a memoir

Becky Livingston travelled the world with a suitcase containing the ashes of her daughter Rachel

When Becky Livingston hit the road, she didn’t travel light. In her suitcase was a jar containing the ashes of her 23-year-old daughter Rachel, who had succumbed to a brain tumour. Rachel had loved travelling more than anything; for her grieving mother, continuing the adventure for her daughter who could not was the only thing that made sense.

That 26-month journey is recounted in the memoir The Suitcase & the Jar: Travels with a Daughter’s Ashes, published this month by Caitlin Press. Livingston will launch the book in her hometown of Nelson on Thursday, September 20 at 7:00 pm at the Nelson Public Library.

Livingston didn’t have an agenda or a timeline when she set out. The heavy, compact jar of ashes grew lighter as she scattered them in Italy, Ireland, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, India, England, Ireland and North America. By merging her daughter’s soul with the elements, Livingston experienced her own transformation through grief, surrender, dislocation, and belonging.

Says author Eve Joseph, “The Suitcase & The Jar is not simply another book about loss. It is an invitation; an illumination into the complexities of love. A fine intelligence moves through these pages. There is no false sentiment here. Livingston articulates grief with a writer’s keen eye. She shows us not a way through loss, but a way in.”

Also featured as part of the presentation is a short film about the book created by Kelowna-based filmmaker Adrian Juric, who will be in attendance. Juric’s films document the courageous inner journeys taken by authors, entrepreneurs, and others.

Becky Livingston was born and raised in England and emigrated to Vancouver, where she raised her two daughters, and has been a teacher, peer counsellor, retreat leader, housesitter, and creative spirit. She now lives in Nelson. Since turning her focus to writing, her work has appeared in a variety of publications. The Suitcase & The Jar is her first full-length book.


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