Editor’s note: Listen Up is a Q&A featuring locals in the arts and culture community.
This week: MargoLenmark, an Eau Clairenative who recently completed her memoir, “Light in the Mourning.” She will host a reading at 2 p.m. Saturday at The Local Store, 205 N. Dewey St.
What was your experience growing up?
My father was a funeral director, so growing up around a funeral home was very natural for me. I was there after school every day to get a ride home with my dad, so I spent a lot of time hanging out at the funeral home. Because I was around it all the time, the subject of death is not as scary to me as it is to other people.
What have you been doing since you left Eau Claire?
I have been teaching transcendental meditation and stress management in major U.S. corporations such as McDonnell Douglas and General Motors, as well as in Egypt, India, the Phillipines, Czech Republic and Slovakia. I also started and managed an ayurveda health center in Palm Beach, Fla. I officiate weddings, I used to manage a rock band and most recently I have been a realtor in Boone and Blowing Rock, N.C., for the past 22 years.
What compelled you to write a book after doing all of these things?
When my father died 22 years ago, someone asked me about my father’s death and I told them the story. When I finished the story she told me I should write a book. The person I was standing with made me promise I would write the book.
When my brother, Mike, died in 2006 I decided to write the book because his death shattered my paradigm and prompted me to start writing. At the time, I believed in reincarnation, but when my brother died, I worried I’d never see him again. I started to think, “What if everything I think I know about death is wrong?” I decided whatever comes out of this book will be my living memorial to my brother.
What is ‘Light in the Mourning’ about?
Of course it’s about death, but it’s also about life and how we should live our life. But even more important than that, it’s about time, and how we spend what time we have.
What are some of the stories you share in the book?
People close to me who have died have left behind very clear messages about life and each story has one of those messages. And isn’t that what we all want — people to come back and tell us about life and how to live? Every message was very clear and every message changed how I lived my life.
Who did you get these messages from?
My father, mother, brother, my boyfriend, a couple close friends, my neighbor, my aunt and my dog.
Did you realize how your experiences around a funeral home shaped you or did this book help you see that?
When I was growing up I used to have a lot of precognitions. So when people close to me died, it was natural that, as I got older, I got deep insights into death from people who died. I grew up around death so much so it makes sense that death would speak to me like that.
What will you be sharing at the reading?
I will be talking a little bit about why I wrote the book and I will be reading a few excerpts from the book.
What do you hope people take away from your book?
I hope that, one, they’re more comfortable with the idea of death and not afraid of it. Two, that they understand the grieving process and why it’s so important and three, that they vicariously get the same lessons about how to live their life as I did from these people who died.
You’ve gotten a lot of great feedback about your book. How does that feel?
Yes. It’s critically acclaimed by such people as Deepak Chopra (best-selling author and alternative medicine advocate) and Marcie Shimoff (international speaker and best-selling author).
It’s gotten a lot of great reviews right out of the gate, which I am grateful for.
— Katy Macek