Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Living with Joy

  "Until I Say Good-Bye:
My Year of Living With Joy"
  by Susan Spencer-Wendel
   This book, recommended by a friend, was a great discovery!  Particularly at this time of year.  This is an autobiography of Susan, who died of ALS at 47.  That is the age our son was when he died last year.  So, on the anniversary, it is very helpful to read about Susan's uplifting thoughts, beginning with this great poem:

        Happy the Man
Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.
                     John Dryden

   Susan was a journalist with three children when she was diagnosed with ALS.  She realized that she may only have a year of reasonable health, so she decided to live it with joy.  She organized trips to the Yukon, Hungary, the Bahamas, and Cyprus with the people who were important in her life.  And, like a good journalist, she wrote about her experiences.
   Her book is enormously inspirational- from reminders to look up and appreciate the sky, to quotes such as this one from Dr. Seuss: "Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened."
   The first chapter is about swimming with the dolphins with her nine-year-old son and the last chapter is about a trip to Sanibel Island, Florida, with her 11-year-old son.  The trips were not ideal- many things went wrong.  But Joy's attitude surmounted every disaster.  She knew that events rarely happen as anticipated, but they are perfect moments nevertheless.  She accepted life the way it happened.  Her advice: "Don't force the world to be the one you dream.  The reality is better".
   As her health deteriorated, she was writing with one thumb on her iPhone.  She did finish the book and lived to see it published.

"Every day is better when it is lived with joy".

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