Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living with Joy

Susan Spencer-Wendel, Author, Bret Witter, Author
Susan Spencer-Wendel with Bret Witter. HarperCollins, $25.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-0622-4145-0
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Journalist Spencer-Wendel discovered she was ill when her left hand suddenly became withered. As she struggles to come to terms with knowing something is wrong—not wanting to find out, then not fully believing the doctor's ALS diagnosis—she writes with courage and strength. When she gets the news, the 40-something author is in her prime, blessed with a great reporter job at the Palm Beach Post and loving family. Using benefits from an insurance policy, she quits her job and decides to take trips with her family and friends, so that she can have all of the amazing experiences she's put off and create lasting memories. She goes to the final space shuttle launch with her youngest son, having never been to Cape Canaveral, even though her home is only hours away. A few months later, joined by her best friend, she sees the aurora borealis in the Yukon. It's there that Spencer-Wendel's philosophy plays out, as it does many times more, as she briefly caught the lights before tripping and missing the rest. She is appreciative and grateful for those few seconds and banishes regrets. There are certainly moments of heartbreak that she doesn't shy away from, such as when she goes shopping for bridal dresses with her teenaged daughter, knowing she'll miss any future wedding. Spencer-Wendel's life will sadly be cut short, but in writing her story, she shows her family and friends how to go on, choosing happiness and love over fear. (Mar.)
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