Thursday, July 03, 2008

Beyond the Night

Mia would live outside if she could. She's spent most of this week spraying herself with the garden hose (and spraying Charlie too!). She lives every moment of her life to the fullest. If she's happy, it's the best day of her life. If she's sad, it's the worst day ever. No matter what it is, she is fully committed to it. It can be frustrating at times, but I admire her zest for life. Last week I was stuck in bed with aches and pains, and she wanted to go outside and play. She asked if she could take some pictures with my digital camera. I asked her to take pictures of the beautiful things outside that I hurt too much to go and see. She took some lovely pictures, as you can see today.

Beyond the Night by Marlo Schalesky begins with a married couple driving down rain slicked roads at night. Paul and Maddie tease each other, and their deep love for each other is evident in every word and gentle touch. When a deer suddenly appears in the middle of the road, the scene changes. Now Paul is in a hospital room urging Maddie to wake up and come back to him. While he waits for her to come to, they each remember the events that brought them together. They were good friends on the verge of becoming something more when Maggie is diagnosed with a genetic illness that will steal her vision. Maddie quickly spirals into depression jumping from rebellion against the disease that stole her brother's sight and life to crushing self-pity. Neither of these leave room for Paul who wants only to make everything right for the woman he loves. Schalesky does a masterful job of creating this love story and then throwing in a twist at the end. One line on the second to last page made me stop breathing. I read it four times without understanding and then sobbed my way to the end. This is the rare book that I find myself still thinking about days after finishing it. I've been telling everyone I know about the power of the message of love in it. Maddie and Paul's love story is heartbreaking, breath-taking, timeless, and beautiful.
Have a Happy Fourth of July!