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UNTIL I SAY GOODBYE by Susan Spencer-Wendel


My Year of Living with Joy

by with

Pub Date: March 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0062241450
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

With the assistance of Witter (Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him, 2011, etc.), crime reporter Spencer-Wendel chronicles her life and the decisions she has made since being diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a wasting disease that progressively causes loss of control of voluntary muscle movement. In her mid-40s and a happily married mother of three with a thriving career, the author rejected the option of assisted suicide in favor of making her last years memorable despite the inevitability of increasing disability. Although not believing that her death would ruin the lives of her husband and children, she understood that it might “affect their ability to live with delight. To live with joy.” Spencer-Wendel was determined to overcome her dread of losing mobility and to live her life to the fullest even as the disease progressed. As inspiration, the author found solace in Lou Gehrig's 1939 farewell speech, in which he described himself as “the luckiest man on the face of the Earth, even after 'catching a bad break.’ ” The author decided to spend her remaining time traveling to places she longed to see, taking friends and family with her. In this way, she left them a legacy of joyfully shared memories. One of the more difficult decisions she made was not to hoard her remaining good health. She determined that she would not search out experimental programs, nor even spare herself physical strain, even though traveling took a further toll on her mobility. Each of the trips more than met the author's expectations: a visit with her son to swim with dolphins, shopping in New York with her daughter and a journey with her husband to Romania, where they lived for the first two years of their marriage.

A poignant, wise love story.