An Irish radio producer tells how she learned to live—and thrive—by the side of a beloved husband diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
When Fitzmaurice first met her filmmaker husband, Simon, she fell in love with a vitality and eloquence that expressed itself in his “dancing hands.” Together they built a bond that was both close and passionate. But during the first decade of living within the happy self-containment of her family “tribe,” Simon suddenly began to limp. Doctors later confirmed that he had MND, a condition that would render him mute and unable to move anything but his eyes. In poetic language, Fitzmaurice recounts the story of how she adjusted to living with a bedridden husband who communicated via an eye-activated computer program. A “merry band” of nurses and caregivers gradually became a permanent feature of her home, as did ventilators and other hospital equipment. Meanwhile, the author oversaw the colorful chaos of living with five small children. Yet at every step of her busy life, she remained all too aware that the only way she could control overwhelming sorrow was to “park it outside of small moments [of peace].” Looking outside the family unit that had once been all she needed to sustain her, Fitzmaurice joined a group of women she came to call “the Tragic Wives’ Swimming Club,” whose members included friends who coped with life-changing challenges that they or their loved ones were facing by diving into the bracing waters of the ocean. The near-constant emotional pain has never left the author, but her achievement, both in life and in this book, is to show the renewing force that her adopted “tribe” and daily swims ultimately became. Though irrevocably changed, Fitzmaurice came to see that the landscape of her life was still every bit as “surprising and beautiful” as it had ever been.
An uplifting, life-celebrating memoir written amid extremely difficult circumstances.