With only her daughter's ashes and a suitcase, a B.C. mother spent 26 months on the road
'In a way, writing the story, it just kept her close, too. It just took a different form'
Becky Livingston spent more than two years of her life on the road, taking only two things with her: a suitcase and her daughter's ashes.
The Nelson, B.C.-based author recounted her journey of healing and grieving in her book, The Suitcase and the Jar.
"I see the book as sort of a continuation of my actual travelling journey," Livingston told Radio West host Sarah Penton.
"In a way, writing the story, it just kept her close, too. It just took a different form."
Livingston's daughter, Rachel, died in 2010 at age 23 from a brain tumour.
Rachel, Livingston recalled, was an avid traveller, having journeyed through Europe and New Zealand as a teenager.
As Rachel lay dying, she agreed with her father's suggestion that her mother take her ashes on one last trip. That sparked Livingston's 26-month journey.
Livingston visited Australia, New York, Berkeley, Ca., Spain and locales throughout the Pacific Northwest including Vancouver Island and Nelson.
She mostly lived as a house sitter, finding gigs online and minding homes while their owners were away.
She said she wanted to be alone, mostly. She left Rachel's ashes everywhere she stopped and would often talk to her, telling her about where they were.
"It was probably the best thing I could have done," Livingston said. "The words of the dying carry such a special weight. When they're your daughter's, they mean everything."
She called her time on the road "incredibly healing" but admits it might not be for everyone. She said the toll of being on the road eventually became too much and she decided to settle down in Nelson, leaving her old home in Vancouver.
She hopes readers of her book learn that grief doesn't last forever and they too can find the courage to make a big change in their lives.
The Suitcase and the Jar launched Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. PT at the Nelson Public Library.
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With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West