“Jesse Was Here (More Lasagna, Please): Feeding the Soul of a Grieving Mother” Book Review
I met Michelle Bauer in the fall of 2018 shortly after I began working at Beyond Type 1. I still remember our first phone conversation when she told me, “Go ahead and ask me anything you want, Todd – I don’t believe in avoiding the tough questions.”
We were discussing Jesse Was Here, a program of Beyond Type 1 inspired by Michelle’s experience after her son Jesse’s death from complications of Type 1 diabetes in 2010. I was impressed by her passion and in awe of the community she was supporting through this unique program. I was also a little afraid.
Death is a difficult topic to think about, let alone discuss in detail, and as someone living with T1D, I had done my very best not to consider the possibility that such a thing could happen. I’m surely not alone in my unease, and that’s what makes Michelle’s book so necessary. Her invaluable insights and unique ability to shed light on a difficult topic have all been captured perfectly in writing.
“Jesse Was Here (More Lasagna, Please): Feeding the Soul of a Grieving Mother” was written by Michelle Bauer over the course of the 10 years following Jesse’s death. It is as real a window into the grieving process as you can find, but the book is much more than a memoir. Each chapter was written from a different time period following her son’s passing. The structure allows the reader to experience what Michelle was experiencing at the time, whether it was one month, one year, or one decade after the loss of her son. Michelle’s writing style is (no surprise) just like her: brutally honest, generous, funny, surprising and inspiring.
The book covers Michelle’s long history of contributions to the diabetes community — from the time of her son’s diagnosis with T1D in 2000, Michelle recognized the seriousness of the disease, and began advocating and fundraising almost immediately. “In hindsight,” she says, “It should come as no surprise that Jesse’s diagnosis catapulted me into something meaningful as it related to his disease. Working with the diabetes community became my new passion. An idle body and mind always drove me crazy.”
Michelle’s journey also takes us through Jesse’s life living with Type 1, her relationships with her family and partners, her interactions with friends and strangers following Jesse’s death, and the worst day of her life. Her story is not told in chronological order, and that serves the theme well, because grief is not linear; it doesn’t follow a set path. Grief is unique and personal. As Michelle explains in one section: “I recalled trying to explain to others that grief for me was like going through my whole life without seeing the color blue and then suddenly seeing blue everywhere… Grief was everywhere.”
The book has practical advice for those experiencing loss, as well as those trying to help a friend or acquaintance through a difficult time. In one particularly enlightening chapter, Michelle includes a list of what NOT to say to someone who has lost a loved one, no matter how well-meaning the sentiment behind those words.
If you have recently lost a loved one, this book is for you. If you have ever experienced loss or grief, this book is for you. If you know someone who is going through a difficult loss, this book is for you. If you know anyone with Type 1 diabetes, this book is for you. And if you have ever been in a difficult relationship, ever been a parent, ever been a kid, or if you just enjoy reading great writing, then this book is most definitely for you.
“Jesse Was Here (More Lasagna, Please): Feeding the Soul of a Grieving Mother” is now available on Amazon. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each book will be donated to Jesse Was Here, a program of Beyond Type 1.