Farther Up the Mountain deals head-on with the spiritual crisis of losing a child. The author’s son Charles, mountaineer, environmentalist, poet and artist, died tragically in a mysterious car crash in Oregon.
Phyllis’s amazing memoir is an account of the complicated, mysterious, heartbreaking and at the same time luminous aspects of death and a little-understood mental disease—bi-polar affective disorder (manic-depression). It’s a mother’s intimate portrait of a young man and his generation, and a family story of coping with grief and past losses.
It is also, in its own way, a mystery in which bit by bit the details of an incomprehensible event emerge. Readers describe it as a “page-turner.”
In the form of twenty-two letters written to her son after his death, Phyllis tells a gripping, tragic, yet healing story of Family that shines with the light of a gifted young man and illuminates the despair of a stalker disease. Her restrained and powerful prose is punctuated with his poetry. The gift, from both mother and son, are the truths discovered while walking through sorrow.
In addition to the inspired letters, Phyllis draws upon the richness of myriad journals that chronicled not only the current tragedy but the years of demanding emotional transitions that preceded it. Ultimately, the story is about new life and a woman transformed—a spiritual journey.
Because Campbell spares no detail in this account of facing the death of a child, and the other events that represent the “damage of a lifetime,” one is witness in a way that has the potential to help others heal as they face the reality of life’s losses.