24 Following


Currently reading

Paddy's Lament, Ireland 1846-1847: Prelude to Hatred
Thomas Gallagher
Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One
Jenny K. Blake
When in French: Love in a Second Language
Lauren Collins
Beyond the Job Description: How Managers and Employees Can Navigate the True Demands of the Job
Jesse Sostrin
Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing
David Hubel, Margaret S. Livingstone
Achieving Your Potential As A Photographer: A Creative Companion and Workbook
Harold Davis
Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age
Sherry Turkle
Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs (Voices That Matter)
Roberto Valenzuela
Man's Search for Meaning
Viktor E. Frankl, Harold S. Kushner
Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection
Jacob Silverman

Before I Say Goodbye: Recollections and Observations from One Woman's Final Year

Before I Say Goodbye: Recollections and Observations from One Woman's Final Year - Ruth Picardie, Matt Seaton Ruth Picardie wrote five columns for British Observer magazine , which her sister Justine was editing before she became too sick with her breast cancer and its treatment to continue. Those five columns, together with emails to and from some of her friends during the final year of her life, and readers' letters to the Observer in response to the columns, make up this book, together with forewords and afterwords by her husband Matt Seaton about how the book came together. Ruth, Justine and Matt are all professional writers with spare and straightforward styles. While writing their personal stories, they remain unsentimental. However, Ruth is not a cool detached observer. Ruth has an amazing vibrant voice.The slim book starts out with emails to Ruth's friends about how the chemo is going. The Observer columns are interspersed through the emails. I found that reading the three books together [book: If the Spirit Moves You: Life and Love After Death] by sister Justine, and [book: Escape Artist] by husband Matt Seaton helped me piece the whole story together and form a more complete picture. For instance, Ruth does not really mention her sister Justine that much in her book. Here's a passing reference from an email dated February 1997: "Am supposed to be starting radiotherapy tomorrow (every day for six weeks, no washing, no deodorant, eek) but I have a pain in my breast bone which I fear could be secondary bone cancer, so am going to see the docs tomorrow to review situation (Only because my sister forced an appointment out of them.) If it has spread, I'd 'like' to try another chemotherapy regime, using taxanes (yew tree extract -- 'natural' but very toxic, causing total body alopecia!). Oh gawd. . ." But obviously, her sister is very much a part of the whole story, encouraging her to write the columns, fighting with Ruth's doctors for the proper care, and being in Ruth's confidence to know that she has this bone pain. The last column that Ruth starts for the Observer is dated August 24, 1997. "Sadly, being diagnosed with cancer seems to have arrested my capacity for high-powered psychological evolution. For -- a shocking 10 months since Diagnosis Day -- I have become convinced that I am , in fact, pregnant. Which, on the face of it, is down there in the kindergarten of denial, or possibly the mania of bargaining, or at the very best the delusion of depression. However, I need only to refer you to one of the pregnancy manuals dusting up my shelves: the vomiting, the weird stuff growing inside you, the endless waiting for the big day."Justine writes a final piece for the Observer on September 28, 1997 describing her sister's death earlier in the week. "But somehow, Ruth slipped away to a different place, a place where I could not go with her. It seems impossible: impossible to comprehend; impossible to find the words to describe the loss. After she died, I sat with her body, stroking her face, holding her hand. She was cold, and my hand could not warm her hand, but I could not believe that she had stopped breathing: even at the end she had been so full of life. Her face looked peaceful; though her eyebrows were raised in a slightly quizzical manner: as if to say, how can this be?"