Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy

Front Cover
HarperCollins, Mar 12, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 384 pages
20 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."

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - GovMarley - LibraryThing

Until I Say Goodbye is a memoir by a journalist dying of ALS. At times it was hard to align with her, as she lived a life of upper middle class and above, but I could relate to her feelings as a wife ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - patsaintsfan - LibraryThing

ALS is awful! My Aunt (second mom) just died of this a month and a half ago... This book is a wonderful testament to a woman, Susan, who has the best possible attitude she can living with this sad ... Read full review

All 5 reviews »

About the author (2013)

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.

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