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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Review - "Until I Say Goodbye" - October 2013

Title: Until I Say Goodbye:  My Year of Living With Joy
Author:  Susan Spencer-Wendel
Genre:  Non-Fiction, Memoir
Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Harper (March 12, 2013)

Susan Spencer-Wendel’s Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy is a moving and inspirational memoir by a woman who makes the most of her final days after discovering she has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

After Spencer-Wendel, a celebrated journalist at the Palm Beach Post, learns of her diagnosis of ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, she embarks on several adventures, traveling to several  countries and sharing special experiences with loved ones. One trip takes Spencer-Wendel and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Marina, to New York City’s Kleinfeld’s Bridal to shop for Marina’s future wedding dress—an occasion that Susan knows she will never see.

Co-written with Bret Witter, Until I Say Good-Bye is Spencer-Wendel’s account of living a full life with humor, courage, and love, but also accepting death with grace and dignity. It’s a celebration of life, a look into the face of death, and the effort we must make to show the people that we love and care about how very much they mean to us.

I have always loved to read books about people who have overcome or are dealing with obstacles and difficulties.  Stories about people who have been paralyzed, kidnapped, had addictions, diseases, been abused, etc.  There is always something so raw life affirming for me in hearing these stories.  This book was an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) given to me by the publisher through Netgalley.
This book was difficult for me to begin reading just because ALS is a disease that is so unthinkably horrifying to me.  I just didn't think that there was anyway possible that this woman could have anything positive or inspiring to say while experiencing this slow nightmare.  But in the darkest of situations, Susan Spencer-Wendel managed to find joy, real joy!  She faced her fears head on and instead of diving deep into depression, she began to live out some of her life long dreams and took special trips with each of her children, friends and husband.  She created beautiful memories that will continue to stay with her even when her body is no longer to move.  This is one of those books and people who have stayed with me now, 6 months after I finished reading her book.  I continue to follow Susan on Facebook and track her diseases progress.  Although I am sad for her, I most certainly do not feel sorry for her.  Pity is the last thing that Susan wants.  I live my life with clearer priorities and have even committed to creating memories for my family for the holidays this year instead of buying them gifts (like taking my daughter to a play, my son to Disneyland for the first time and my husband away for a weekend!)!  I do this in Susan's honor and thank her for teaching me how to truly live with joy, not matter what!

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