It seems that everyone I know is reading Vicki Forman's newly-released memoir This Lovely Life. Actually, it seems that everyone I know has already read This Lovely Life. I keep hearing, from person after person, that Vicki's writing is so forcefully engaging that once they started the book, they were unable to put it down. It is that good.
This Lovely Life has had the opposite effect on me. Every time I pick it up and start reading, Vicki's writing is so forcefully engaging that it literally takes my breath away, and I need to put it down - sometimes after several pages and sometimes after just a few paragraphs.
It is that good.
In This Lovely Life, Vicki writes about giving birth to extremely premature twins, Ellie and Evan, about Ellie's death just days later, and about Evan's life with profound disabilities, which started in the NICU and ended after eight years, a year ago yesterday.
Vicki's journey and her story are entirely different from mine, but - I realize as I read - there is significant overlap in emotion, in response, in moments etched in time and impossible to reclaim. My journey to and through parenthood has involved loss and struggle, but I don't write about it much on the pages of this blog - or, frankly, anywhere else. I have neither the talent nor the courage to give words to those emotions or to that history - to give it shape - to make it real - to offer it up to the world at large and say, "See?"
But Vicki has both extraordinary talent and unshakable bravery, and This Lovely Life is infused with both. It is remarkable writing from a remarkable woman, and it is not to be missed.
I usually wait until I've finished reading a book to endorse it, but This Lovely Life is a book that I will be reading for a long time, as I build up the courage to continue, and give myself time and space to be ready to move on. If you have grieved - especially if you have grieved the loss of a child - you may be startled to find that Vicki describes with extraordinary precision emotions and reactions you thought were uniquely your own and, even, emotions and reactions you weren't aware you had until you found yourself breathless with recognition and needing to put the book down.
And if you haven't suffered that kind of loss - and I truly hope you haven't - then go out right now and get This Lovely Life, and then clear your calendar for a couple of days.
You won't be able to put it down.