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Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy Bets On...

Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy

March 2014

Just about a year ago, I read UNTIL I SAY GOODBYE by Susan Spencer-Wendel (with Bret Witter) right before it was published in hardcover. I was so very, very moved by this story. I had read some of her Palm Beach Post columns where she had been documenting her journey with ALS, which is a truly hideous disease with no cure. From the start, she knows her fate. She also is a journalist and a very take-charge person. So instead of crying “woe is me,” she has gone on to live life joyfully, all the while the disease is zapping her muscle control. She has traveled with family and friends, planned memories for her children, and focused on doing rather than weeping.

This book is powerfully moving in the same way that THE LAST LECTURE and TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE were. However, it resonated with me even more. Maybe because I am a mom and a wife --- like Susan. She is fashion-conscious, and the details of how she still plans her appearance even as her health is declining show the depths to which one will go to maintain normalcy in a world spinning out of control. When you read, think of this. While Susan was writing this book, she had lost control of her hands. It was typed on an iPhone with the one finger she still could control. Seriously. She had people read it back as she could see so little on the iPhone screen.

I have been following Susan on Facebook, and she’s a true inspiration. Each day she finds joy in things like celebrating her caregivers and in seeing things like this: “I just noticed it recently, though I've passed it likely more than a thousand times. A grand shade tree with rainbow-colored bark. At first I did a double take: it looked like kids may have colored it with markers. Today, the owner told us it's a rainbow eucalyptus.” Each day in her limited world, Susan is on alert for wonders.  This book and Susan are aninspiration for all the moments in our lives when we have said we cannot.

Now a year has gone by, and the book is being published in paperback. I am making it a Bets On since it’s a book I have thought about a lot in the past year. And because Susan has made me appreciate life and the little joys of every day. The new afterword was written by Susan via HeadMouse, which enables her to type via a reflective dot on her nose. She wrote it in a week. She’s a year wiser in it, and in the last year I feel like, through her, I have learned a lot as well.

Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy
by Susan Spencer-Wendel with Bret Witter

  • Publication Date: March 4, 2014
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0062241478
  • ISBN-13: 9780062241474