Davis, Heather Choate
|Genre||Memoir (264 pp.)|
|Keywords||Cancer, Caregivers, Children, Disease and Health, Doctor-Patient Relationship, Empathy, Family Relationships, Father-Daughter Relationship, Grief, Hospitalization, Human Worth, Illness and the Family, Illness Narrative/Pathography, Love, Mother-Daughter Relationship, Mother-Son Relationship, Ordinary Life, Parenthood, Prayer as Medicine, Religion, Spirituality, Suffering, Surgery|
|Summary||At seven months, Remy, daughter and second child of Heather and Lon Davis, is hospitalized with a seizure that, after several days of agonizing uncertainty, is traced to a brain tumor. This narrative of her diagnosis and treatment, told by her mother and very much from her mother’s perspective, is not only a chronicle of a medical event, but, perhaps more centrally, of a spiritual awakening in the mother’s life. From a person uncertain about and largely indifferent to prayer, faith, and spirituality, Ms. Davis becomes, over the course of her daughter’s treatment, convinced of the presence of God, the power of prayer, and the availability of grace in precisely those circumstances that threaten life and lifestyle and bring individuals face to face with their deepest fears and deepest needs. |
A series of “coincidences” makes her more and more aware of how little she controls in the grueling process, and how much of comfort, relief, and unexpected aid comes as unsolicited gift from un expected places. The child recovers, unlike several others the mother encounters during her weeks of witnessing hospital life. The mother emerges profoundly different for the experience, and clearer in her purposes as a writer and, eventually, a teacher.
|Commentary||Conversion narratives are hard to tell; they are subject to well-established conventions and clichés, they are easily sentimentalized, and, when associated with illness and death, easily over-dramatized. This author falls into none of those traps. This story of suffering, confrontation with loss, and personal transformation is one anyone, no matter of what faith persuasion, might find intelligent, encouraging, and provocative. The writer’s lively honesty about her own struggles, her resentments, her uncertainties, her marital stresses, and her moments of awakening in a life-changing chapter of parenthood is convincing and memorable.|
A worthwhile book, certainly, for any parent to read and ponder, especially those who struggle with children’s illnesses. And for those inclined to religiosity that comes a little too easily, it is also challenging; the writer does not tell a story of simple conversion, but of gradual, sometimes resistant, recognition of a dimension of mystery often only made visible when ordinary securities are stripped away.
|Place Published||New York|
|Annotated by||McEntyre, Marilyn Chandler|
|Date of Entry||10/16/06|