Hope and Other Luxuries
"Over the years, my worst fears for my daughter have crystallized into a terrifying daydream, a daydream so frightful that I have never told it to a single human being until now. My daydream is this: I am receiving The Call. A voice is saying, 'I'm so sorry. It's about your daughter,' and I continue to hold the phone, but I can't hear anymore. It doesn't matter. I already know what the voice is going to say." – Clare Dunkle in Hope and Other Luxuries
I love it when a book grabs my attention immediately and draws me into its pages. Sometimes it's the content itself, a topic that interests me so that I want to dive in and not come up for air until it's finished. Other times, it's a topic I'm new to and I find myself eager to learn more about. Less frequently it seems, I find a book so well-written that I become a part of the story. I can feel the author's struggle. Their work is so well-written that they've not only put their story on paper, but they've left pieces of themselves on the pages.
Clare Dunkle left no emotion undocumented in Hope and Other Luxuries. Her mother's heart for her daughter Elena's struggle with anorexia pierced my own. As I read, I found myself struggling with understanding how a seemingly "perfect" life could go so wrong. The Dunkles seem to have made the "right" choices for their children, giving them opportunities, support and love. They participated in their children's lives. They were not absent. As a parent you assume if you do all the "correct" things, eveyrthing will work out. But sometimes things do go wrong. You can do all you can as a human. You can be the best parent you know how to be, and yet things can turn out so opposite of what you have planned. Clare walked alongside her daughter through every treatment facility, every doctor's diagnosis or misdiagnosis; every battle with the insurance companies to ensure Elena received the treatment she so desperately needed. All while watching her daughter literally vanish before her eyes.
What Dunkle demonstrates in this vivid memoir is that even after you've done your very best and you find things go terribly wrong, you can't stop trying to make things better. You can't give up, lie down, and wait for it all to end however it may end. You have to keep pressing on for your kids. You can never leave their fate in other's hands, even if they are well-meaning, educated and allegedly know more than you.
It's such a great lesson for us all. Life will be full of the unexpected. There will be numerous situations that will be out of our control. What we can do is keep going. Press on. Never give up, especially when those we love may suffer the consequences of our passiveness.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with children. No matter the age of your kids, this book will leave you reminding yourself to never give up on them. I can guarantee it may take awhile to get to that point – after you've cried alongside Clare through her entire story, but you will get there.