UNTIL I SAY GOOD-BYE: My Year of Living With Joy
Susan Spencer-Wendel with Bret Witter
Susan Spencer-Wendel, a journalist, wife and mother of three was diagnosed in 2011 with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). With the time she has left, Susan has set out to make each day important and memorable for herself and her loved ones. This account of her adventures and what she draws from them is both moving and inspirational. Like The Last Lecture , Susan’s book is a celebration of living.
‘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, author of Happier at Home & The Happiness Project
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. While Susan cannot stop the rapid decline of her body and her inevitable death, she refuses to give up on life. A woman of immense strength and indomitable spirit, the forty-five-year-old mother of three has made every day count.
After her diagnosis, Susan began taking special trips: to the Yukon, to see the Northern Lights with her best friend; to Budapest, where she and her husband spent the first two years of their marriage; to Northern California, to meet her birth mother; to Cyprus, the home country of the deceased birth father she never met. But one of her most important adventures was a visit to New York City and Kleinfeld’s Bridal, where she and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Marina, shared an unforgettably moving experience: shopping for the perfect dress for a wedding Susan will not see. “As my beautiful daughter walks out of the dressing room in white silk, I will see her ten years in the future, in the back room right before her wedding, giddy and crying, overwhelmed by a moment I will never share. . . . When my only daughter thinks of me on her wedding day, as I hope she will, I want her to think of my smile when I say to her at Kleinfeld’s, ‘You are my beautiful.’ ”
News of Susan’s remarkable story has spread across the world, and the response has been overwhelming. Now, in this unforgettable memoir, she invites readers on her transformational journey, sharing the gratitude and wisdom that guide her. “I am writing about accepting, about living with joy and dying with joy and laughing a helluva lot in the process.” Until I Say Good-bye is the fulfillment of her final wish: “To make people laugh and cry and hug their children and joke with their friends and dwell in how wonderful it is to be alive.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR A journalist for over twenty years, Susan Spencer-Wendel left her job as an award-winning courts reporter for the Palm Beach Post when she was diagnosed in 2011. She has been honoured by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Florida Press Club and Florida Bar for her coverage of legal issues. 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 lives in Florida with her husband, John, and their three children, 14-year-old Marina, 10-year-old Aubrey and 8-year-old Wesley. Susan is writing the book on her iPhone. As she says, ‘thank god for technology’.
Bret Witter will be helping Susan put the book together. Bret has collaborated on many acclaimed books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat who Touched the World; the New York Times bestseller Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever who Saved Him; and The Monument Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. He lives in Decatur, Georgia, with his wife, Beth, and his children, Lydia and Isaac. Visit his website at www.bretwitter.com.