Anyone who watches ABC News felt the impact when Bob Woodruff was injured in an IED explosion as he was traveling with U.S. troops in Iraq. This was a name and a face that we all recognized. But the real impact came, as it always does, for those who had to deal first-hand with the situation.
In an Instant is a compelling, compassionate, detailed exploration of the real impact of this event in the lives of a family. Lee Woodruff writes poignantly about receiving the news of her husband’s injury, about reconciling herself to the facts, and about aiding her husband throughout his recovery and holding her family together. Her strength speaks in every passage – and yet she is beautifully human in her emotions. I, personally, will always be inspired by Lee’s strength, compassion and understanding for her husband, her children, her family and especially herself. She is a truly amazing woman.
The book is structured in a way that allows the reader to ascertain the events as seen through the eyes of both Lee and Bob, almost simultaneously. As Lee is receiving the news of her husband’s injuries, he is detailing the events as he remembers them unfolding. This literary “give and take” lends an aspect to their story that allows the reader to fully experience the events as they unfold. The dualism of their fears, concerns and triumphs allows all readers to relate in some way to their story. It is uplifting and inspirational.
The support received from friends and family flows through the family. Strength is a mainstay and just as friends and family supply it to Bob and Lee, so does Lee provide it for them. She is an amazing wife, mother and woman and it shines through in all of her interactions with those around her. Bob is every bit as amazing in his efforts to recover. His determination is an inspiration to his medical staff, as well as family and friends. His injuries are detailed in a way that allows the reader to understand the full impact without the sensationalistic dialogue often used to detail such events. Indeed, sensationalism is missing throughout their story, which allows the true emotions, hardships and victories shine through in all their glory. This is simply the true story of real people dealing with a legitimate crisis which allows them to realize and embrace their true selves.
The book closes with entries from each of the Bob & Lee’s children, explaining their take on the situation as it has impacted their family. I found this to be a very fitting conclusion. While both Lee and Bob discuss the impact of his injuries and his recovery to their family - particularly the children - throughout the book, hearing the voices of the children as they react to their father’s injuries, their mother’s strength and the family’s journey through recovery gives a fitting conclusion to the work. It seems to support that fact that this has been a family crisis and a family recovery, recognizing that those affected include even the smallest – in size only – of the family.
There are many families across our nation who are dealing with the pain and triumphs of family members who have been injured in the war in Iraq. By sharing their experience with the public, Bob and Lee Woodruff illuminate the plight of all of those who are injured, their families and friends. While their story is indeed amazing, there are many whose stories are just as amazing, but unheard. When we read the Woodruff’s story, we must remember all those who have fought, sustained injury and those who have died for the safety of our country and while striving to free the people of Iraq from oppression. For every trauma or triumph of which we hear, there are a hundred more that remain unknown outside their own circle of family. May all of them be blessed with strength, compassion, and victory.