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Hannah's Gift: Lessons from a Life Fully Livedby Maria Housden
Synopses & Reviews
Dr. Truth Jekyl and Mr. Hyde Denial
We both began bleeding on the same day.
I woke to it slowly. Drifting out of a deep sleep, I lay in bed, my eyes closed, inhaling the cool morning air that wafted in through the open window, its breath a welcome respite from the previous night's August heat. I stretched my body and sighed contentedly. Claude stirred beside me. I heard the footfalls of an early morning jogger pass below, on the street side of the house. A car drove by. I opened my eyes. Our bedroom was gray and still.
As I rolled onto my side, I felt a sticky warmth between my legs. Instantly, I was awake. I slid one thigh across the other and felt a sucking sensation as they parted. Clamping my legs together, I closed my eyes and willed myself to be dreaming. Everything was quiet, except for the thud of my heart in my chest. I heard another car drive by; then another. I opened my eyes again, this time more slowly. The first light was beginning to sharpen the outlines of objects in the room.
I ran my hand across my abdomen. Its slightly rounded fullness reassured me. After all, only yesterday the tiny form of the baby inside had appeared on my doctor's ultrasound screen, filling the room with the pulsing whoosh of its amplified heartbeat. Claude had smiled and squeezed my hand. My whole body had softened with relief. I had miscarried three other pregnancies before this one, all in their eighth week. Yesterday's ultrasound was the confirmation we had been waiting for; this baby, our third child, would be born in March. Will, our son, was five, while Hannah, our daughter, was nearly three.
Last night, I had stood in the nursery, running my hand over the rail of the empty crib, imagining the smell of baby powder in the air again. I slept more deeply than I had in weeks.
Now I lay next to Claude, hyperventilating between wanting to know and not wanting to know. Finally, I slipped out of bed, careful not to brush my thighs against the sheets. When I stood up, I felt a warm trickle run down my leg. I caught the tiny bead on the tip of my finger: blood. I cupped a hand over myself to keep from staining the carpet and tiptoed to the bathroom. Just then, I heard Hannah calling from her bed downstairs.
"Mommy, I have to go potty "
I grabbed a wad of toilet tissue, wiped my thighs, and glanced at my image in the mirror. My eyes looked wild. I splashed cold water on my face and made my way to Hannah's room. I hardly noticed her sweetness nuzzling the nape of my neck as I carried her to the toilet. I was wondering how I could bear to tell Claude or anyone else about another miscarriage. I felt deeply ashamed; losing this baby meant I had failed again.
When Hannah was finished, I lifted her off the toilet seat and was catapulted out of my grief. Hannah's urine was deep pink: blood. Miscarriages I knew; blood in the urine of a two-year-old I didn't. For an instant, I couldn't think or move. Then a thickness seemed to envelop me; I felt numb but strangely efficient. Everything was happening, but I felt disconnected from any feeling in it. I heard Claude in the bathroom upstairs, running the shower. I dressed Hannah and myself, woke Will, set the table for breakfast and made three phone calls; one to my doctor, one to the pediatrician, and one to my friend Lili. When Claude came downstairs, I told him about the blood, Hannah's and mine. I couldn't even
In a comforting guide for the bereaved, a mother shares an inspirational series of life-transforming lessons based on the final battle with cancer of her three-year-old daughter, Hannah, exploring the ways in which the irrepressible child brought truth, joy, faith, compassion, and wonder to the world. Reprint.
Every once in a while a book comes along that can change your life — a book so special, it is destined not just to be read but to be cherished, to be passed from one reader to another as a precious gift.
Filled with wisdom and grace, tears and laughter, Hannah's Gift is one such book. Within these pages Maria Housden shares the transformative lessons in living she received from her three-year-old daughter Hannah, who brought courage, honesty, and joy to her struggle with cancer.
During the last year of her short life, Hannah was fearless in the way she faced death — and irrepressibly joyful in the way she approached living. The little girl who wore her favorite red Mary Janes into the operating room changed the life of everyone who came in contact with her. Now, in a book that preserves Hannah's indomitable spirit, Maria Housden offers the gift of her daughter's last year to all of us.
In a lyrically told narrative, both moving and unforgettable, Housden recounts Hannah's battle with cancer in simple, straightforward language that transcends grief and fear to become a celebration. From Hannah's story emerge five profound lessons — of truth, joy, faith, compassion, and wonder — that have the power to change our lives.
During her illness Hannah showed how we can truly live in the moment and break free from lives suffocated by too many unlived joys. Even more memorable is the message Hannah delivered after her death to those she loved — a message of hope for anyone faced with the deepest questions of life and death.
Hannah's Gift nourishes the soul with an ageless wisdom all the more invaluable for having come from someone so young. A remarkable story, remarkably told, it will bring comfort to anyone touched by loss, and renewed faith in the power of love.
Closing her eyes and extending her arms, Hannah began to dance. Oblivious to everything but the shoes on her feet, she skipped and clicked across the floor, twirling in circles, faster and faster. There was something about her pure joy and the defiant nobility of the red shoes that caught everyone's attention....
The true measure of a life is not its length but the fullness with which it is lived.
Maria Housden's testament to a dying daughter's transcendent wisdom, a mother's all-too-earthly devotion, and love's uncanny gift for transforming the greatest suffering into joy and self-awareness comes as a gift to us all.
MARK MATOUSEK, AUTHOR OF SEX DEATH ENLIGHTENMENT
Hannah's Gift is a celebration of life in all its richness, pain, mystery, and wonder. Maria Housden gives us renewed faith in the transformative power of love.
JOHN WELWOOD, AUTHOR OF TOWARD A PSYCHOLOGY OF AWAKENING
As Maria Housden guides us through her daughter's grave illness, we too receive Hannah's gift to the world. Like a master spiritual teacher, this remarkable little girl opens our hearts to what matters — compassion for ourselves and one another.
JOAN DUNCAN OLIVER, FORMER EDITOR IN CHIEF, ONE SPIRIT BOOK CLUB AND NEW AGE MAGAZINE
Superlatives seem pointless. Read it and weep for the sheer joy of being alive.
JEREMIAH ABRAMS, AUTHOR OF MEETING THE SHADOW
This portrait of a short, joyous life can be comforting to anyone who has lost a child.
Hannah's Gift broke my heart and filled me with joy.&q
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