Maureen Callahan SmithMaureen Callahan Smith

How do we move on when we lose the people we love the most?

Medford author and therapist Maureen Callahan Smith addresses this question in her new book Grace Street: A Sister’s Memoir of Grief and Gratitude, which is about her sister Kathy’s cancer diagnosis and their extremely difficult, complex, and emotional journey during the treatment process.

Smith read from her book at the Roasted Granola Café in Arlington on June 16. About 25 people attended, and Smith's editor and publisher, Patricia Crotty, introduced the author.

Smith read the foreword from Grace Street, talking about how death is an unavoidable part of life and how, although “we are so afraid of death in our culture,” we are actually meant to experience its impact and that “we have hearts made for [it.]” She read in a confident, serene tone that captured the audience’s attention.

Smith then read excerpts from various chapters in her book. These included “Life in the Infusion Room,” “Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Bone Marrow Transplant,” “The Day of Bone Marrow Transplant,” and “Grace Street.” Smith quoted Kathy, conveying Kathy’s sense of humor and impact on her friends and family: “It’s probably illegal to sneak in a beer though, huh?” and “They have ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral.’ I know we’ve seen it, but let’s watch it again, it’s got Hugh Grant.”

Sharing emotions through her writing

Smith expressed feelings of sadness, stress and gratitude for the moments of joy she experienced during the entire process. Her steadfast attitude displayed how strong she was to have overcome these stressful times, and how she trudged on without slowing down or losing faith.

As a therapist, she revealed her goals of helping people with her book, and she spoke with an inspiring optimism that suggested others had the strength to make it through terrible grief and loss as well.

In reading these excerpts, Smith brought everyone through her experiences learning about Kathy’s cancer diagnosis, the grueling treatments and complications they ran into, and her process of trying to move on afterward.

After reading, Smith opened for questions, and audience members connected with her over shared experiences of losing loved ones and asked questions about maintaining hope and optimism during these times. She responded with thoughtful words about finding and appreciating moments of joy wherever she could and spending time with family and close friends. Engaging with the audience encouraged a sense of shared warmth and kindness that Smith created with her confidence and emotional vulnerability.

Smith closed the reading with her poem “Wingaersheek,” about the beach in Gloucester. It included details about light, joy, and love alongside vivid imagery of the ocean and shores, with a strong message about the importance of letting go and moving on. Smith had books available for sale which she could sign for anyone who was interested.

Grace Street: A Sister’s Memoir of Grief and Gratitude is available wherever you buy your books. It is also available as an ebook on Amazon and she is working on publishing an audiobook as well. 

This news feature by YourArlington intern Aidan Klingsberg was published Tuesday, July 5, 2022. The author’s mother, Patricia Crotty, published Smith's book, and he is also working as an assistant for the author and publisher to help with promotion for the book.