Over the past few weeks, I've been reading an interesting book. It's titled The Long Awakening by Lindsey O'Connor. I was curious about this book. I love to read books that help me step into someone else's shoes and understand his or her life. I want to know about how they've dealt with struggles and suffering, how it felt, and how other people in their lives responded (for better or for worse) and the impact of those responses. I want to know because I want to love people better. I don't want to say the wrong thing. I find that I am able to be more sensitive in my words and actions when I am aware of what hurts and what doesn't.
The Long Awakening is the the story of a woman who enters a coma for 47 days on the day she gives birth to her fifth child. The story talks briefly about her life before her family, her pregnancy and birth of her fifth child, her time in a coma, and her recovery from that coma. From the beginning, Ms. O'Connor explains that a family's living through a coma and the recovery from one is not like the movie "While You Were Sleeping". I had no idea. In fact, it is a very long process.
I would say that this book was very eye opening for me. Ms. O'Connor is a skilled writer and is very descriptive in how she explains what she has lived through. Her descriptions helped me see things through her glasses. Multiple times in the book, my heart hurt for her and her family. Compassion and sympathy is something I believe we have to cultivate in our hearts. I think that if we know more about other people's lives we are less likely to judge one another.
I think we are also more likely to have a balanced perspective about life--to understand that there is suffering in all of our lives. Someone else's life might look perfect or they might look like they have it all together, but we all have struggles.
I think what struck me most about this book was how gradual Ms. O'Connor's recovery from the coma was and how it came step by step--little step by little step. Her friends gathered around and stepped in to help her family. They offered and followed through. They loved, but didn't push. And when they did push, it was gently. They brought meals, their presence, cards, gifts for her children, listened to the promptings of the Lord about how to help (while Ms. O'Connor was asleep, one friend gave her daughter a bracelet on her birthday--just what she always had given her older children on that special day). A few years ago, I read a book for widows and for people seeking to understand and love them well. It was helpful to me at the time. This book is helpful to me in the same way. It helped me to realize that everyone's experience in a coma is different. It helped me better understand the gravity of what a coma means--and the recovery from one. She addresses many topics over the course of the book. One was an interesting discussion about the miracle of her waking up in the middle of the book. She doesn't come to a conclusion, but I appreciated her thoughts about whether she was a miracle or what happened was a miracle. It was very well-written and thought provoking.
I do have to admit that as I headed in to have Lasik surgery on my eyes last week, I did have to put this book down. Fears about the outpatient operation were something I needed to keep at bay and not feed by thinking about suffering that came unexpectedly from a medical procedure...
Would I recommend this book? Yes, I definitely would. Her book is a very frank memoir about not only her experience and what she felt emotionally, but also her faith.
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Revell Books.