Synopses & Reviews
In June 2011, Susan Spencer-Wendel learned she had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — Lou Gehrig's disease — an irreversible condition that systematically destroys the nerves that power the muscles. She was forty-four years old, with a devoted husband and three young children, and she had only one year of health remaining.
Susan decided to live that year with joy.
She quit her job as a journalist and spent time with her family. She built an outdoor meeting space for friends in her backyard. And she took seven trips with the seven most important people in her life. As her health declined, Susan journeyed to the Yukon, Hungary, the Bahamas, and Cyprus. She took her sons to swim with dolphins, and her teenage daughter, Marina, to Kleinfeld's bridal shop in New York City to see her for the first and last time in a wedding dress.
She also wrote this book. No longer able to walk or even to lift her arms, she tapped it out letter by letter on her iPhone using only her right thumb, the last finger still working.
However, Until I Say Good-Bye is not angry or bitter. It is sad in parts) — how could it not be?) — but it is filled with Susan's optimism, joie de vivre, and sense of humor. It is a book about life, not death. One that, like Susan, will make everyone smile.
From the Burger King parking lot where she cried after her diagnosis to a snowy hot spring near the Arctic Circle, from a hilarious family Christmas disaster to the decrepit monastery in eastern Cyprus where she rediscovered her heritage, Until I Say Good-Bye is not only Susan Spencer-Wendel's unforgettable gift to her loved ones) — a heartfelt record of their final experiences together) — but an offering to all of us: a reminder that "every day is better when it is lived with joy."
“A poignant, wise love story.” Kirkus Reviews
“Susan Spencer-Wendel had to face the question, ‘What would you do if you had a year to live? This profound, tender, and often funny account of her experiences will remind readers of what really matters most: love.” Gretchen Rubin, New York Times -bestselling author of The Happiness Project
“This heartbreaking and heartwarming good-bye will make you laugh as much as it makes you cry. Susan Spencer-Wendel's determination to find the joy in life after having been dealt the ALS card is both inspirational and enlightening.” Cokie Roberts, New York Times bestselling author of We Are Our Mothers' Daughters
“Spencer-Wendel writes with courage and strength....Her 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.” Publishers Weekly
Susan Spencer-Wendel's Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy
is a moving and inspirational memoir by a woman who makes the most of her final days after discovering she has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
After Spencer-Wendel, a celebrated journalist at the Palm Beach Post, learns of her diagnosis of ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, she embarks on several adventures, traveling to several countries and sharing special experiences with loved ones. One trip takes Spencer-Wendel and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Marina, to New York City's Kleinfeld's Bridal to shop for Marina's future wedding dress) — an occasion that Susan knows she will never see.
Co-written with Bret Witter, Until I Say Good-Bye is Spencer-Wendel's account of living a full life with humor, courage, and love, but also accepting death with grace and dignity. It's a celebration of life, a look into the face of death, and the effort we must make to show the people that we love and care about how very much they mean to us.
About the Author
Susan Spencer-Wendel was an award-winning journalist at the Palm Beach Post
for almost twenty years. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Florida. She has been honored for her work by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Florida Society of News Editors, and she received a lifetime achievement award for her court reporting from the Florida Bar. She lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, with her family.
Bret Witter has collaborated on five New York Times bestsellers. He lives in Decatur, Georgia.