A special thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This rambling, manic at times, narrative is a raw and honest book about living with MND (here in Canada known as ALS—amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—or Lou Gehrig's disease). Ruth Fitzmaurice's filmmaker husband, Simon, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2008. He is wheelchair-bound, not able to move or breathe on his own, and can only communicate through the use of an eye gaze computer. It is these eyes that Ruth uses as the windows in which to find her husband—she knows he is still in there even though he can't speak to her, or touch her.
Ruth and Simon are parents to five children, all under the age of ten. As if that weren't chaos enough, there is a constant parade of nurses that come and go 24 hours a day, and a gaggle of pets including an aggressive basset hound. One of the many challenges Ruth faces is to find any sort of peace in the chaos, any moment of stillness and calm to keep her sane and grounded. She craves connections, whether it be to her "Tragic Wives' Swimming Club", or to her favourite nurse, Marian. Human connection is so important to survival, especially in times of tragedy.
Fitzmaurice doesn't use any type of timeline, or write in any kind of order. Instead, she chunks her staccato type narrative into mini essays. To be honest, it took me a while to get into her groove, there are times where she is all over the place and scattered and it feels like she has simply taken every thought in her head and put it on the page in order to make sense of her life. While this type of writing doesn't appeal to everyone, it works for this book. This memoir is raw, honest and heartbreaking, while at the same time showing the beauty of love. It inspires, and demonstrates the resilience of the human spirit. Ruth is unabashedly open with her thoughts and feelings and I think she is incredibly brave to bare her life in this way.