Steph Jagger lost her mother before she lost her. Her mother, stricken with an incurable disease that slowly erases all sense of self, struggles to remember her favorite drink, her favorite song, and—perhaps most heartbreaking of all—Steph herself. Steph watches as the woman who loved and raised her slips away before getting the chance to tell her story, and so Steph makes a promise: her mother will walk it and she will write it.
Too aware of her mother’s waning memory, Steph proposes that the two take a camping trip out to Montana—which her mother, on the urging of Steph’s father, agrees to embark upon. An adventure full of horseback riding, hiking, and “tenting” out West quickly turns into one woman’s reflection on childhood, motherhood, personhood—and what it means to love someone who doesn’t quite remember the person she spent her lifetime becoming.
A staggeringly beautiful examination of how stories are passed down through generations and from Mother Nature, Everything Left to Remember brings us the wisdom of who our memories make us under the constellations of the vast Montana sky.
“In this thoughtful and intimate memoir of a mother and daughter on a road trip, many destinations are reached—what it is to have Alzheimer’s, what it is to love someone with Alzheimer’s and who really is in the navigator’s seat. Wonderful addition to the genre.”—Gayatri Devi, author of The Spectrum of Hope: An Optimistic and New Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias
"This book infuses a devastating topic with a generosity of spirit that makes the pages within it soar. It is a life-changing read that connects us to the greater truth that none of us are ever truly alone. A tribute to love and family and what it means to be human in this fleeting journey called life. Simply put, this book is exquisite, a classic of our time, a must-read if we are ever going to save the natural world and ourselves within it."—Linda Sivertsen, host of the Beautiful Writers Podcast & author of Generation Green and Beautiful Writers
"Both soaring and intimate, this spellbinding book maps a daughter's journey into the wilds of herself. Using her mother—who is slowly forgetting herself through Alzheimer’s—as a codex, Jagger reconnects with the unspoken histories of her body and lineage, and somehow finds the language to share her journey with us. If you let it, Everything Left to Remember will unmake you . . . and then help you rediscover your path home."—Maia Toll, award-winning author of the Wild Wisdom series
“Steph Jagger’s Everything Left to Remember deftly grips both sweetness and rage, recognition and refusal. Jagger treads cultural oceans, the performance of childhood, cinders of inheritance, and how much of who we are is in what we cannot let go. Everything Left to Remember is a reminder that what we commit to forgetting, we also commit to memory.”—E. J. Koh, award-winning author of The Magical Language of Others and A Lesser Love
“This memoir is a gift. Steph Jagger writes with a combination of crisp humour, grace, and clarity that takes my breath away. This book shows us how to accept the steady parenting of Mother Nature, and how to open our heart to her love and magic—even when we are facing the impossible.”—Sarah Selecky, award-winning author of Radiant Shimmering Light
"Everything Left To Remember left me breathless in many moments—suspended in between pages because the feelings, inner experiences, and emotion captured through Steph’s narrative were so viscerally felt within me. Steph has captured the complexity, grief, and beauty of mother-daughter relationships, as well as the depth from which they are born, in such a way that will leave readers captivated, reflective, and ready to step more fully into their own relationships, lives, and selves. This memoir holds within it a balance of tenderness and humor, grit and grace, mystery and meaning, all weaving together to create a story that I believe all of us can somehow find ourselves in. Everything Left To Remember showcases the brilliance and magic of Steph’s writing, all while generously sharing such an intimate and powerful adventure of how both connection and loss can allow us to see others, ourselves, and the natural world more clearly. I’ll be reflecting on it for a long time to come."—Lisa Olivera, author of Already Enough
"I loved Steph’s first book, Unbound, so I knew I’d devour Everything Left To Remember. What I didn’t foresee was the spectacular growth she’s undergone as a writer between her first and second memoirs. Writing into the intersection of love, motherhood, and dementia takes bravery, strength, and insight—all of which Jagger exhibits in Everything Left To Remember. It is raw, honest, and beautifully crafted. The text glistens with truth, humor, and honesty, making each page feel like an embrace from a friend. Everything Left To Remember is the heart-guidebook our generation needs to navigate dementia. Jagger’s intuition, wisdom, and wit make her a leading voice of our generation. If you have a mother, read this book."—Charlotte Austin, award-winning travel journalist
"Flowing with poetic prose, Jagger’s gorgeous depiction of memory, motherhood, and what it means to love and lose the people we care about the most will leave you feeling tender and wondrous. This gift of a book is about what it means to be real and to be human."—Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance
"Steph Jagger takes us on a heartbreakingly beautiful mother-daughter journey that will inspire reflection, remembrance, and our own courage to take the journey home to Mother."—Kylie McBeath, host of Zura Health Podcast
"With keen insight and thoughtful prose that captures both the emotions involved and the significance of the natural world in the author’s life, she recalls their journey across the Rockies, where they shared moments of loss, endured times of frustration, and found genuine joy in nature . . . A beautiful yet heart-wrenching tribute to the mother-daughter relationship."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Jagger offers a beautiful reflection on love, memory, and inheritance in this heartrending account of a road trip she took through Big Sky Country . . . This will cast a spell on fans of Cheryl Strayed and Glennon Doyle."—Publishers Weekly
Reviews from Goodreads
1A Family Constellation
It took me eleven months to notice the tear in the fabric, and seven words for it to rip straight down the middle. Eleven months and seven words.
In June of 2015, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s....