In this debut memoir, a woman shares her struggles to move forward after the tragic loss of her daughter to a rare brain tumor.
In January 2009, 14-year-old Laura, the eldest of Miller’s three daughters, began experiencing severe headaches. A medical exam in mid-February concluded the headaches were caused by stress. Later that month, Laura suffered a seizure but seemed to recover in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Within four days, she was on life support. With power and clarity, the author recalls the moment-to-moment events of Laura’s final day. The neurosurgeon came into the waiting room and said: “Laura has suffered a massive brain bleed.…It’s catastrophic and irreversible.” She was legally dead. Hours later, Miller and her husband were approached by a woman from the Wisconsin Donor Network. Would they be willing to donate Laura’s organs? Their decision, urged in part by Laura’s 12-year-old-sister, Sara, would play a major role in the healing process. The family’s profound sense of loss was mixed with the need to navigate through a new normal. Miller writes plaintively: “Widow is the word for a woman who’s lost her husband, orphan is the term for someone whose parents are both deceased. There’s no name, however, for a mother and father who lose a child.” A week after the funeral, her husband was back at work and their two younger daughters were back in school. Miller slowly began to return to her volunteer work with Milwaukee’s Jewish Community Center and the National Council of Jewish Women. Her loving, frequently heartbreaking memoir gives full expression to her despair, anger, fears, and resilience. Albeit occasionally repetitious, the account is articulate and pleasantly unvarnished (“Laura wasn’t an easy baby. She needed us in a way that our younger two daughters wouldn’t”). Vivid anecdotes about Laura, the inclusion of her mature-beyond-her-years writings, and family photographs give her new life in these pages. But the book is more than a tribute to a lovely, talented young girl. It also serves as a strong promotion for organ donation, a cause the entire family has thoroughly embraced.
A worthy addition to the grief and recovery genre.