"Everything happens for a reason." Ugh! I've often thought I would create a book of myths and this one would be the first one I attack. The second would be, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." I've heard them all, dozens of times in dozens of circumstances from Forest's death, to Matthew's seizures, to Madison's autism, to my divorce, to my paralysis."
How many of us who have gone through difficult times have heard those same platitudes, and wanted to scream? If this section of a letter author Rebecca Faye Smith Galli shares in her book Rethinking Possible: A Memoir of Resilience, sounds slightly bitter, there is good reason. Loss permeated an otherwise idyllic life when her seventeen-year old brother died in a waterskiing accident when Rebecca was a junior in college.
"If I were to write an autobiography I know they would put it in the fiction section," Rebecca wrote to her friend Gibson years later. By then, one of her children had been diagnosed with a degenerative disease, another was autistic, and Rebecca was confined to a wheelchair, having survived transverse myelitis. Her divorce had been finalized just nine days before the illness that left her paralyzed from the waist down.
I love reading memoir, particularly stories of transformation, faith, and redemption, and this book has aspects of all three. Galli could, indeed, have become bitter with all that transpired in her life, but instead, she shares her struggle to become a better person, remembering the words her brother had written the day before his accident "I would change nothing..
"I would change nothing.. Despite continued pain and loss in her life, Galli is determined that her life will live up to those words. Considering that her father is a pastor, I expected faith to take center stage in this dramatic memoir, but Galli managed to write an inspirational book without making it a blatantly "Christian" one. I found that refreshing after reading a few too many books that incorporate Bible verses in a somewhat forced way, as if the author was instructed to include a certain number of verses in each chapter.
A single caveat; I wondered at the author's repeated references to the abs she'd garnered through exercise shortly before the illness. It seemed an odd thing to concentrate on when her life was in such turmoil, but then, perhaps because those hard-earned muscles later turned flabby, they were just one more thing to mourn.
Rebecca Faye Smith Galli (Becky) is a reluctant-but-obsessed columnist who writes about love, loss, and healing. Surviving significant losses--her seventeen-year-old brother's death; her son's degenerative disease and subsequent death; her daughter's autism; her divorce; and nine days later, her paralysis from transverse myelitis, a rare spinal cord inflammation that began as the flu--has fostered an unexpected but prolific writing career. She has written for The Baltimore Sun and The Mighty. Visit her website.
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