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PREVIEW: Book Excerpt Now You See the Sky by Catharine H. Murray

Now You See the Sky is a memoir about love, motherhood, and loss. When Catharine H. Murray travels to a small town on the banks of the Mekong River to work at a refugee camp, she falls in love and marries a local man with whom she has three sons. When their middle son is diagnosed with cancer at age five, their pursuit of a cure takes them from Thailand to Seattle, before they eventually return to Thailand, settling on a remote mountaintop. Full of honesty and grace, Now You See the Sky allows the reader to witness the fathomless loss of a child and learn how tragedy can transform us, expand our vision, and make us more fully alive.


A cool breeze blew up the steep hillside, causing the sharp blades of grass to sway in the morning sun, a moving fringe underlining the dark green stillness of the valley and waves of blue mountains beyond. A butterfly, papery and backlit yellow, fluttered past the nearest trees while a brittle brown leaf, huge as an elephant’s ear, fell from above and crashed heavy on the dry grass below. Two months since the end of the rains, and leaves were finally beginning to yellow and die. The jungle below was not entirely still. Above the tangle of young trees and reaching vines, the huge frayed leaf of a banana tree swayed slightly. Where a branch of feathery bamboo stretched toward the sky, the wind played with it like fingers touching a beloved’s hair.

I’d washed Chan’s hair the day before, but he was sweating so much at night with a fever that he awoke with it wet and matted again. By the time he cried about the pain in his limbs and how he couldn’t go anywhere and how he didn’t want to head down to the village with Daddy because he hated to leave me because he didn’t get enough time with me when he was little (fresh sobs and tears with every one of these items), his hair had dried fine and soft and sweetly messy.

Cody had his turn to complain when he heard he had to go to the village too and wouldn’t get time with me. “But you promised!” he screamed, and threw pillows till it was time to leave. Two-year-old Tahn was pushed aside by me and threatened by Dtaw. Chan sat quietly eating his almonds and raisins in the sunlight that streamed through the doorway of the dark kitchen.

“Actually, Mama,” Chan said, looking up and smiling at me when I turned toward him, “I think I’ll take a nap after TV so you can rest more.”

I kissed his cheek, thankful to see him smile, then I continued to prepare their things so I could shoo them all away. Cody shouted and Dtaw complained. I thought of the day before when I calmly and quietly got all three of them out of the house by six thirty a.m., returning at three thirty p.m., giving Dtaw nine hours of uninterrupted time, and here I had to be screamed at and tortured with tears just to get a couple of hours on my own.



Oh, rats!  It’s so frustrating when you get cut off just as you were getting really interested.

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