I seem to gravitate toward books that would be considered tear jerkers, and Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living With Joy by Susan Spencer-Wendell is definitely a book that could fall under that category. However, it is also a book that seems hopeful as I was amazed over and over again by Spencer-Wendell's conscious effort to choose to live with joy even while dying.
Spencer-Wendell, a journalist and married mother of three, notices her one hand looks ropy and sinewy one day. There are a few other physical issue she has noticed as well, and thus begins a quest for answers about what is going on with her body. She is young- in her early forties-and although ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease, is mentioned no one can believe that could be what is wrong with Susan.
I'm not giving away any secrets when I tell you that she does receive an ALS diagnosis. And that Susan's body begins to fail little by little. Until I Say Goodbye is in part a letter to her children, as Susan recounts her life for them. It is also a chronicle of her life after her diagnosis, a time Susan has chosen to live with joy, traveling with friends and family to create memories with them.
As I read, I had no doubt it would have been easier for Susan to spend her remaining day at home where she would not have to worry about how to get on and off a plane with assistance, use public bathrooms, find foods she could still swallow - but Susan didn't choose to live easily. She has spent her entire life jumping off cliffs so to speak, so she embraces this life she has left.
I still have Randy Pausch's book, The Last Lecture, sitting on my TBR pile. For so long it has seemed too heartbreaking to read. Until I Say Goodbye is another heartbreaking book as we read about a woman who will not live to raise her children. But Susan Spencer-Wendell is an inspiration to everyone as she shows us all how to live with joy.
Visit Susan Spencer-Wendell's website.