If you are “living” with a critical illness, learn from this book how to spend the days you have left.
If you think the current state of your life is overwhelming, read this and learn to prioritize.
If you’ve lived with a critically ill person, and still don’t know why you were deserted by people you thought you could count on, read this.
If you have experienced a grief you can’t put words to, you’ll find the words here.
If you have/had a critically ill sibling, and thought your adolescent feelings were wonky, this will help you understand.
If you’ve ever wondered how a family with a special needs child survives, read this.
If you want to know the definitions of hope, love, loyalty or commitment, find them in this book.
If you think family life is truly represented by the Cleavers, Married With Children, the Osborns or Hannah Montana, you need a reality check. So read this.
If you think one person can’t make a difference, read this.
If you are squeamish about medical research, this can help you get over yourself.
SIXTYFIVE ROSES, A SISTER’S MEMOIR is written by Canadian Heather Summerhayes Cariou. The title comes from her younger sister Pam’s inability to pronounce the disease with which she was born, Cystic Fibrosis (CF). The disease renders the lungs just about non-functional. Most CF kids die before their 12th birthdays. Pam lived to be 26.
This book is NOT a light read, or fun. The author refers frequently to the laughter she and her sister shared. The reader will not laugh. While the reader may be amazed at how Pam lived to the advanced age (for CF) of 26, there are times it will feel like it’s taking 26 years to read its 430 pages. The book is best taken in small, reflective doses. Yet at the same time, it is compelling, and moves the reader forward. At times it feels like you have permission to watch a bad car accident without guilt.
It IS a book that will change you. Heroes? Plenty. Role models? Dozens. Bad Guys? Oooh, really bad ones. Despicable ones. They are especially heinous because they look so much like good guys.
Cariou’s writing style is a factual, no holds barred rendering of fact. There is much emotion, but it’s not an emotional book. The reader will not be manipulated by violins or evening news sound bytes. It is open, honest, and love pours off every page. Yes, your eyes will mist at times, but not for reasons you assume going in. No pity, thank you. No time for it.
Families and the critically ill who fight the good fight are often accused of being in denial. If you have ever been such an accuser, read and learn the difference.
You know from page one how the book will end. Or do you?
Cariou writes “Giving up implies there’s still some fight left, or unrealized potential that’s being tossed aside. It’s a closing off of the heart and mind, a shrinking of the soul. Giving up takes back all that we have given, and fashions a vessel in which to carry regret.
“Surrendering means we know we have done all we can do. There is compassion in surrender, both for ourselves, and for the thing we leave behind. It is an offering, a gift. There is forward movement in surrender, an opening of the heart and mind, an expanding of the soul. We broaden, and slow fingers fan out, reaching for the open water, and the embrace of the unknown.
“Giving up is an act of anger or despair. Surrender cannot be accomplished without love.”
Truly, we should all, as the country song says, “live like we were dying”. SIXTYFIVE ROSES is the manual.