Category Archives: Memoirs

Adversity and Imagination: Two Book Reviews

Two Faces of Adversity

 

Adversity and Imagination: Two Book Reviews

 

I’ve had time to read two books since I last posted here. In each, life deals a woman a hand of adversity she must play.  Of the two, the book I liked best was the memoir of a military mom, first published in 1958 —  Rough Road Home: A true and moving story of one woman’s courage under adversity.  Melissa’s  grief and loss are sudden and unexpected.  The trials of raising her mentally deficient child are constant.

In the second book, a novel, Valencia and Valentine, a woman struggles through adulthood with  OCD.  She, too, lives with loss, but also struggles with guilt.

Adversity in Rough Road Home by Melissa Mather

In 1950 Melissa and her husband Bob were living at Fort Monroe in Virginia with their four children in barely adequate housing. The oldest children were eight-year-old twin boys, one of whom would always have the mental abilities of an eighteen-month-old child. That would be Mike. Pat was his normal twin brother. The middle child, son Chris, was six, and daughter Kitty was three. Mike couldn’t talk, but Kitty made up for it.

As the book opens, Bob learns from his higher-ups that Mike is being kicked off the post. Bob is about to be sent to Korea. Mike goes temporarily to live with Melissa’s parents as Melissa and extended family members go to prepare  a dilapidated farmhouse for occupancy. She had been planning to move somewhere isolated with the children while Bob was in Korea — somewhere Mike couldn’t get into trouble. She had bought the small farm in Vermont. Here’s how she describes the house:

It was a haphazard house painted a tired lemon yellow with windows scattered casually wherever needed or convenient. It had the comfortable settled-down look of old Vermont farmhouses, no line exactly horizontal or exactly vertical, but “more or less”….It was everything an army barracks is not.

Longin: The Friend Who Was Family

Longin was an honorary member of the family. He was Polish. His own family had been wiped out during the war. He was in a German labor camp when Bob’s unit liberated it in 1945 and he became a displaced person. Bob had befriended him and helped him get a visa and transportation to the United States.

mugs friends are like family you choosemugs friends are like family you choosemugs friends are like family you choose

Once home, Bob was stationed at Fort Knox and Longin moved in with them to help with Mike. Bob treated Longin like a younger brother. When Bob was transferred to Fort Monroe, Longin joined the paratroopers.

The Plane Crash

After Mike went to live with Melissa’s parents,  Bob and Melissa had two months at home without him. Bob and Melissa grew closer, and Bob could spend quality time with his remaining sons. Then the Army sent Bob and some other officers on an inspection trip to the West Coast and their plane crashed. There were no survivors.

Longin, who was stationed at Fort Bragg,  got a three-day pass to drive Melissa and the children to Melissa’s parents in New Jersey where they  stayed until they finished making the the complicated funeral arrangements . His three-day pass extended into a month’s emergency leave.

Then Longin and Melissa drove to the farmhouse so they could work until the funeral.   When they got there they discovered how much needed to be done. The furnace and sink needed replacing and new wiring had to be put in. The house was in such bad shape it wasn’t fit to live in.

A few days later Melissa and the boys  with other family  members went to the funeral at Arlington Cemetery. Longin stayed behind to keep preparing the house for human habitation. Some of the neighbors also helped. Soon after the funeral was over and the family returned home,  Melissa discovered she was pregnant. Melissa was happy to still have part of Bob with her. Longin went home and extended family came to help every weekend.

Inspirational Quote on Adversity MagnetInspirational Quote on Adversity MagnetInspirational Quote on Adversity Magnet

Life on the Farm

As the family tried to settle in, more and more of the house began to fall apart. The pump broke, the roof leaked, and the house sagged so badly they couldn’t shut the front door. The workmen she hired fleeced her. She wrote to Longin that things were out of control.  He got a compassionate discharge to come and help. I was amazed at how many handyman skills he had.

I will not go into all the details of the hardships they faced and how they solved their problems. Handling Mike was one of their biggest problems because there was no way to teach him. Back then there was no help for children with such severe disabilities. He could not go to school.

What I Learned from Reading This Book

  • How hard it was to make a living farming
  • How little support there was for families with a mentally disabled child.
  • How little patience, understanding, and tolerance there was when such children acted out
  • How little human nature changes in such things as political and neighbor-to-neighbor conflicts

The author’s style was delightful. Melissa was resourceful, brave, and hard-working. So was Longin. The family was closely knit. You’ve probably already guessed that by the end Longin would marry Melissa.

Adversity and Imagination: Two Book Reviews

I would recommend this book to anyone facing adversity, to new widows with small children, to military families, and to anyone else who enjoys memoirs and a well-written story about the triumphs of real people over what life throws at them. Although there is sorrow and loss, the book is also laced with laughter and plenty of love.

Grief and Loss: Reviews of Recently Read Novels

Valencia and Valentine: Obsession, Compulsion, and Imagination

The Rough Road Home is primarily about overcoming grief and physical hardships.  Valencia and Valentine by Suzy Krause is about living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and retreating to an imagined world.

We first meet Valencia at work in the West Park Services Call Center where she is a very unhappy debt collector. The first thing we learn about her is that she ‘didn’t think about death too often.’ Ironically, death is almost all she thinks about.  Her imagination  frequently focuses on how, when, and where she might die. That’s one reason she is afraid to fly. She regularly visits her therapist, Louise.

Here’s how the author describes the call center:

The only sounds in the building were shuffling feet and hundreds of hushed, one-sided telephone conversations. . . . Everyone seemed either uneasy or bored. . . it was less like a penitentiary and more like a hospital; you got a feeling of dread in your stomach when you walked in. You got the sense that that people inside were all sick or dying or dead.

Mrs. Valentine Also Thinks about Death Too Much

Valencia and ValentineValencia and Valentine

She’s eighty-seven years old and lives alone in her apartment. Her best friend Mrs, Davies lives across the hall from her and is about the same  age. They have been friends for many years and call each other by their last names to remind themselves of their dead husbands.

As the book progresses and we learn more about Mrs. Valentine and her memories and flashbacks, we begin to suspect she and Valencia have or will have some sort of relationship to each other. Both are bored with their lives, think about death a lot, and have a vivid imagination.

Saying  more about this book could spoil the ending for anyone who actually reads to the end. This book was free as my Kindle First Read this month. I wish I had chosen a different one since this book was  a bit too far out for me to relate to. If you read it, your opinion might be different.

I was sick when I read it and that might have influenced my response to the book. I just couldn’t get interested in wallowing around in all the obsessive thoughts about death. One-sided conversations with people who don’t exist don’t thrill me much either. I finished the book, but it fell flat. I could not connect with it and  I found the constant back and forth between the lives of Valencia and Mrs. Valentine confusing.

My Conclusions

The Rough Road Home held my interest all the way through. It provided an example of a close family working through very difficult circumstances and not giving up. Best of all, it was true.

Valencia and Valentine showed me what unhealthy minds and relationships look like. I’m glad it was fiction. I wish it had been more interesting. The plot is like a yoyo between Valencia and Mrs. Valentine as they live out their compulsions, fears, and relationships. Nothing  much changes for what seems like forever. When we finally learn the truth at the end, it doesn’t really surprise us much.


Melissa in The Rough Road Home showed the sort of strength and spirit in adversity that helped her overcome her great losses. In contrast, in Valencia and Valentine we see a crippled spirit whose friends are imaginary.  She obsesses about death daily and considers continuing to live an accomplishment .  She knows she is reinventing her life history with her made-up stories and that the people she often talks to are rarely real. But they are real to her because her mind makes them real.

Both Melissa and Mrs. Valentine are widows. Melissa has a real life and tackles making what’s left of it work in spite of the adversity. Mrs. Valentine has feared death and adversity all her life. She is a fictional character who manufactures her own fiction to make her life liveable. Maybe you will enjoy Valencia and Valentine more than I did if you want to give it a chance. It is one of Amazon’s best sellers,  and many readers gave it glowing reviews.


Or if you want more realistic information on OCD one of the books below might be a more interesting read.

 Brain Lock, Twentieth Anniversary Edition: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts: A CBT-Based Guide to Getting Over Frightening, Obsessive, or Disturbing Thoughts Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery Turtles All the Way Down

Best Books Read in 2018 and First Books in 2019

Best Books I Read and Reviewed in 2018

In 2018 I’ve probably read at least 200 novels from cover to cover . A few I decided not to finish. Many were entertaining but not outstanding. Some were excellent, but I didn’t have time to review them. Here are the books that had the deepest impact on me in 2018 with links to their reviews:

Best Books Read in 2018 and First Books in 2019
Best Books Read in 2018

Books I’ve Read So Far in 2019

These are the books I’ve read during the first four days of 2019. I will include some brief thoughts on each.

Until Now by Cristin Cooper

Billy met Bridget when she came into the diner he had unwillingly inherited. She was pregnant at 16 and homeless. She was hungry for the love her father never gave, and he kicked her out when he discovered she was pregnant. The college boy who seduced her thinking she was over 18 was not ready for marriage and told her to get an abortion. She had refused. It was in this situation she sought a warm place and a bit of food in Billy’s diner.

Billy was also lonely and unhappy, searching for love in the wrong way. He, too, had been rejected by one he thought loved him. Once Billy and the waitress Diane were aware of Bridget’s situation, they took her in and gave her work and a place to live above the diner. She raises her daughter Katie there and never marries. Billy hasn’t married any of his women friends, either. He wants to marry Bridget and she wants to marry him, but both are afraid to confess their love so they keep their relationship platonic. They center their attention on raising Katie, the one who brought them together.

The book opens on the day Katie is about to leave for college. Both Bridget and Billy wonder what will happen to their friendship then. The book jumps back and forth between time periods and relationships that both Bridget and Billy have as Katie grows up.  I found the book engaging, but like most romances, a bit unrealistic. The ending, however, satisfied me.

Alert: There is some adult content.


The Rogue Reporter (A Police Procedural Mystery)

Written by Thomas Fincham (a pseudonym for Mobashar Qureshi,  this is #2 in the Hyder Ali Series I started in 2014 with The Silent Reporter.  The Rogue Reporter has many of the same characters, and I couldn’t put either book down. Fincham uses many of the same techniques he did in the first book. You can read my review of The Silent Reporter here. If you like suspense this author will keep you turning the pages.

Although I couldn’t stop reading this book, I had a tough time with a couple of torture scenes. They were brief, but it was hard to get through them. I don’t remember such scenes in the first book and I’m hoping the next books won’t have more than the normal violence and suspense you would expect to find in a detective novel. As I write this, the entire series is available in Kindle Unlimited where you can read it for free. You could probably finish it during the free trial period.


 

 

Eleventh Street: A Story of Redemption by Steven K Bowling

We first meet Lucas as he fights the Japanese Imperial Army and reminisces about the attack on Pearl Harbor he survived. We continue to see him fighting for his life in battlefield after battlefield throughout World War Two as he experiences the continual horrors of war. He had prayed plenty of genuine foxhole prayers, but after leaving the service he didn’t even go to church.

His older sister had married the brother of their church’s pastor, Buck Johnson, who simply called himself Pastor. As jobs got scarce in Kentucky, Pastor and most of those in his church, including Lucas’ other surviving siblings, moved to Hamilton Ohio to find work in the steel mills. Pastor converted the East Side Dance Hall into a church.

When he went to war, Lucas had left Maggie, the girl he loved, behind. She would not date him because she wanted to marry a God-fearing man and he didn’t appear to be one. When he returned to Hamilton, he sought Saturday night amusement at the East Side Dance Hall, since friends had recommended it. But it was quiet — except for a voice he recognized from the past: “Do you know the Lord today?…”

Maggie’s love had motivated Lucas to try to act like a Christian, but it was the Holy Spirit and Pastor that finally made him give his life to Christ at what had become the Eleventh Street Church. Lucas met the power of God through the ministry of Pastor. Pastor had no formal theological training, but it was obvious the Holy Spirit had called and equipped him.

We follow Lucas’s life and the life of Eleventh Street Church through three very different pastors. After Pastor’s death there was a gradual transition as new members joined the church and and older ones left. It becomes apparent to readers that the third pastor of the church after Pastor retired is a wolf in sheep’s clothing who is leading the flock astray.

This book’s message is relevant for today’s church.  Often pastor search committees may be more interested in a candidate’s advanced degrees and administrative abilities than in his dependence upon God. So many churches today that want to grow look to new music, new methods, and even new doctrine, to attract new members. They sometimes begin to depend more on these new ideas than on the Holy Spirit.

What happened to the Eleventh Street Church could happen to any church that begins to depend upon and follow a charismatic leader more than Christ himself. This thought-provoking novel will be of most interest to Christians.

Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar by Carol Guthrie Heilman

Agnus Hopper did not move to Sweetbriar Manor retirement home willingly. But when her forgetfulness causes the home she had shared with her late husband Charlie to burn down, she became homeless. She moved in with her daughter, Betty Jo, but Betty Jo could only handle that for three months. She then took Agnus to Sweetbriar, assuming that she would make friends and soon be happy there. Agnus knew better.

Within a few days Agnus knows something is very wrong with Sweetbriar and that the manager is hiding something. She is determined to find out what is really going on as she gets to know the other residents. She is especially concerned about her best friend from high school, Pearl, who no longer recognizes her.

Throughout this book and its sequel, which I’m still reading, you’ll meet a quirky cast of senior citizens trying to make the best of where life has put them. Agnus and her friends do their best to bring down their crooked manager so they can live in peace. In the sequel, Agnus finds the body of one of her husband’s friends not far from his grave.  She is determined to find out who killed him and why.

The Adventures of Agnes Hopper Series (2 Book Series)The Adventures of Agnes Hopper Series (2 Book Series)

I’m trying to make the most of my trial Kindle Unlimited membership. Most of the books I’ve read this year were free to read on KU. If you read a lot, why not try it? Just click here for your Kindle Unlimited trial.

National Read a Book Day Should be Every Day

National Read a Book Day

I have been unable to discover who decided September 6 is National Read a Book Day, but it really doesn’t matter. People should be reading books every day. Most teachers, librarians and booksellers would agree. My nose has always been in a book. I can’t understand why more people aren’t  turning off the TV. I’ve always found reading more entertaining.

Life Without Books?

As one who’s always been surrounded by books, I  don’t want to think how dull life would be without them. I usually read three to five books a week. I’m currently reading A Lady of High Regard by Tracie Peterson, a Christian historical romance.  As I write this it’s still free in the Kindle edition, but the price could go up any time.

I cut my bookworm teeth on picture books. Later I read my way through most of the juvenile section at the public library near my home. I walked there nearly every day. The librarian “didn’t notice” when I had checked more than the total books I was allowed at one time. By the time I hit high school, I was reading  my way through any nonfiction books in the adult section I found interesting. You might conclude I was a voracious reader and you would be right.

Television  Lost when Competing with Reading

When I was very young, TV was new. I was  six years old when the first neighbor bought one and we all gathered to watch Beanie and Cecil on the Leakin’ Lena. Here’s a sample show of the type we saw — the original black and white puppet version.

Is it no wonder that I preferred the Thornton Burgess animal stories?  TV shows for children in those days could not compete for my attention with Amanda, by Wolf Von Trutzschler. It was my all time favorite picture book. Amanda was a friendly snake who wanted to help all the other animals, most of whom loved her. Her best friend was Archibald, a monkey, who acted as her hands. The pictures in that book will stay with me forever. The book is now collectible and expensive, but I wanted you to see the cover anyway. I’m glad I still have my copy, even though it’s worn out.

 Amanda by Von Trutzschler, Wolf (1990) Hardcover

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 Some of my   favorite stories and poems came from  the big orange Childcraft books (1954 edition) Mom had on the shelf. I poured over the folk and fairy tales, adventure stories, and illustrated poems day after day.

Among other books I loved was Make Way for Ducklings,  a book no child should miss. I loved the scene where the policeman held back  traffic so the duck family could safely cross the street.

The Little Golden Books are Unforgettable

Back then there were not many quality picture books, but we did have the Little Golden Books. Some of my favorites are still available today.  These books sold for only a quarter when first published. I had a large assortment. These are the illustrations stored in my mind. For the most part, these are the editions I loved.  Newer editions of The Three Little Kittens have dropped a few pages deemed politically incorrect today.

Noises and Mr. Flibberty-jib was one of my favorite books because  noise bothers me, too. That’s one reason I moved to the country, just like he did. I made my mother read me The Taxi That Hurried over and over. I wanted that taxi to get to the train station on time.  The Poky Little Puppy appeals to the children who like to stop and observe what they see, even if it makes them late for dinner.

 Classic Characters of Little Golden Books: The Poky Little Puppy, Tootle, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, Tawny Scrawny Lion, and Scuffy the Tugboat The Poky Little Puppy (A Little Golden Book Classic) Noises and Mr. Flibberty-Jib (A Little Golden Book) The Taxi That Hurried Walt Disney’s Pinocchio (A Little Golden Book) Three Little Kittens Little Golden Book 50th Anniversary Edition (50th Anniversary Commemorative Facisimile Edition) Walt Disney’s Dumbo (Little Golden Books)

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My Preteen and Teen Years: Books vs TV

As I grew older, my parents watched westerns and variety shows. I sometimes watched Hometown Jamboree with them, since I liked Tennessee Ernie Ford.  My parents didn’t join me when I watched the Mickey Mouse Club .

Annette Funicello was about my age, and I idolized her.  She finally got her own series on the Mickey Mouse Club. Disney featured Annette’s series in a collector’s DVD set.  It includes biographical information on Annette, as well. I read her autobiography, A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, not long before  she died.  It satisfied my search for more information about the  person I had identified with so much during my middle school years.

 A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story

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My family  watched Lawrence Welk and I loved the Lennon Sisters. I recently read their autobiography, Same Song, Separate Voices, written by all four of them, and loved it. They grew up in Los Angeles County, as I did, and they weren’t rich. I had watched them sing on Lawrence Welk for years and the book showed me how they got started,  what those years meant to them, and what came after them. Every fan should read this book.  This video shows the sisters when they were young on the Lawrence Welk Show, as I knew them.

As a preteen, I spent most of my free time in my room devouring the historical fiction of Gladys Malvern. I had loved Behold Your Queen — the fictionalized version of the Bible‘s Esther.  I wanted to read all Malvern’s books. Now they are available in Kindle editions.  I see I missed some my library didn’t have. Nancy Drew was also required reading when I was young, so I read through the original series.

I still preferred books to television when in my teens. The only shows I really cared about were comedies. Our Miss Brooks was my favorite. I love to laugh, and that’s something Eve Arden always makes me do. Other shows I watched were I Love Lucy, and the Burns and Allen show. Those shows accounted for about 90 minutes a week, so I had lots of time left to read. Most of my friends read, too, so we shared book recommendations.

What I Read While I Was in College

I continued to read classic fiction. I was an English major, so a lot of the fiction and poetry I read was assigned. If I enjoyed authors, I tried to read more of their books. I read German poets in the original.

College was also a time of spiritual inquiry for me. By my junior year I had returned to faith in Christ after a three-year period of exploring other religions. I read a lot of Christian nonfiction to better understand my faith and inspire me to live it out in everyday life. The books I read in college were the classics of evangelical students in the 1960’s, and I had the privilege of meeting some of their authors at conferences.

One of these was John R. W. Stott, a prominent Anglican priest and world-renowned Bible teacher. His most well-known book is Basic Christianity.  His writing is alive with truth and challenges to apply it to life.

I also met Elizabeth Elliot, first missionary and later a college professor.  She was widowed three times. Her most famous book is Through Gates of Splendor, the story of the martyrdom of her husband and four other American missionaries in a jungle in Ecuador. After his death, she edited and published his journals.  Shadow of the Almighty reveals the innermost thoughts of a man totally committed to following Christ — even to death.  It required careful and thoughtful reading.

The End of the Spear is a movie that tells the story of the five missionaries’ deaths from the point of view of the Waodani warrior who led the raid that killed them. The movie also reveals the good that came from this martyrdom.

 End Of The Spear Through Gates of Splendor Let Me Be a Woman Shadow Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot (Lives of Faith) The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7 : Christian Counter-Culture) Basic Christianity Men Made New: An Exposition of Romans 5-8

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Reading Beyond College

You now know some of the books that satisfied my need for stories and knowledge during my youth. I will skip the years of early marriage and parenting. I have shared some of what I’m reading now in other reviews on this blog. Most of the books here are now available in Kindle editions.  That means you could actually buy a book today for National Read a Book Day.  If you don’t have a Kindle yet, I review the one I use here.

If you opt for picture books, I hope you will get physical books rather than eBooks. I think real books provide a better reading experience for children and allow for better interaction with the pictures.

No matter what day today is when you read this, go read a book and help your children to do the same. Take a trip to the library to celebrate Read a Book Day. Then take your treasures home and read them. Enjoy.

National Read a Book Day Should be Every Day

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Review of Resilience by Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards died about five years ago of breast cancer. She had  announced the diagnosis in 2004 after the election in which her husband, John Edwards, lost his bid to become Vice President of the United States. Eight years earlier, in 1996, the Edwards had lost their 16-year-old son, Wade, when the car he was driving was pushed off the road by the wind and he lost control of it. At the end of  2006. Elizabeth learned of what she called John’s “indiscretion”  with another woman, and at the beginning of 2010 the two separated after John publicly  admitting fathering a child with another woman.

Quote from Resilience by Elizabeth EdwardsElizabeth’s first book, Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers, which I have not yet read, was published in September, 2006. Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life’s Adversities, followed in May, 2009, a year and a half before her death. In this book, Elizabeth Edwards shares her journey of bereavement, fighting her cancer, and dealing with her husband’s betrayal. She also reveals how hard it was to have planned one kind of life and to face the fact that the life she had planned was going to be much different than she had been prepared for.

Mary Elizabeth Anania Edwards grew up in a military family. Her father was a Navy pilot, and she spent part of her childhood in Japan. That was when she first learned a bit about resilience from her tutor, Toshiko. Toshiko had been a beautiful woman. She had trained for a decade in one of the top courses in Japan to become a geisha , and her future had looked very bright. When she finished her course, she went home to visit her parents in Hiroshima in August, 1945. Unfortunately for her,  that was when the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on that city.

Toshiko was knocked to the ground and badly injured. Her skin was charred and her hair was burned. After months of treatment, she was able to resume what for some might have been a normal life, but it was not the life she had trained and planned for, since she had lost her beauty — an essential for her planned career. Elizabeth shares Toshiko’s story and what she learned from her.

A large part of the book deals with Elizabeth’s internal processing of Wade’s death and her own grief work. I lost my Jason when he was fourteen, two years younger than Wade, also in an accident. I can identify with much that Elizabeth shares here. I believe most bereaved moms will recognize her feelings as some part of their own. She got more support than many of us had, since she was a public figure who got thousands of letters from the public. She also got support from internet support groups, which did not exist yet when I lost Jason. My support came from my family, church and other home school families.

Bereaved mothers will find much here that may help them keep going as Elizabeth shares her own experience of trying to put the pieces of her life back together. She shares her struggle to understand why her son, who was a good person, who did nothing to contribute to his accident happening, who had a bright future ahead, would die when he did. Why did God allow it?

Knowing what I do about grief, I personally believe that losing Wade may be a contributing factor in the other trials that follow. A major emotional stress, and the death of a child is one of the greatest a parent can face, can make the body more susceptible to disease. Although no scientific research proves a link between stress and breast cancer, Elizabeth mentions a common result of bereavement — not eating normally  and not being able to sleep.  A poor diet and sleep deprivation  can lower resistance to disease.

Here is more information on dealing with the death of a child. This article states that the death of a child can take a toll on one’s health. Research of long-term effects on bereaved parents indicates the death of a child from unnatural causes such as accidents can be associated with mortality of the mother: “Bereavement was associated with long-term mortality due to illness (e.g., cancer) for the mothers, presumably because of stress, a weakened immune system, or poor health behaviors.”

This same study indicates  that divorce rates among bereaved parents are eight times that of the norm. As far as we know, John’s infidelity did not begin until after his wife was diagnosed with cancer, eight years after Wade’s death. No one really ever gets over the death of a child — the thoughts of it just become less frequent over time. Perhaps the double blow of losing his son and the possibility of losing his  wife, added to the side-effects of her treatments and the frequent separations when he had to travel, were all contributing factors to the infidelity.

Be that as it may, whatever the causes, Elizabeth has to deal with it all. She shares from her heart how each challenge impacted her, what she felt, and what she did. She relates the help she got from others and how what she’d learned from her family had helped her face her own situations. She shares her doubts and her attempts to understand her faith in light of Wade’s death. Since the Plan A she had for her life had been blown apart, she tries to construct a Plan B.

In conclusion, Elizabeth makes it clear that each of us must find our  own path through pain and grief. We won’t all be on the same grief timetable. We aren’t competing with each other in the immensity of our grief nor in how well we handle it or how long it lasts. Most people will not have to deal with all three of Elizabeth’s sorrows at the same time, as she did. We will deal with whatever sorrows and challenges life throws at us. They won’t seem less just because someone else may have had more.

This book will not take your own pain away, if you are facing similar circumstances. It will not provide a plan to fix your life. That you will still need to work through yourself. It will give you some company as you work through grief and loss. It will encourage you to know that it is possible to find your own resilience.

 

 By Elizabeth Edwards: Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life’s Adversities Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers