Thursday, October 07, 2010

OUT OF GRIEF--SINGING by Charlene Diehl

I went to a book signing tonight by a longtime friend.

The first time I met Charlene she was the Head of the English Department at the University of Waterloo and I was a post-doc in Biology. I happened to work with her then-husband, Bill.  My hubby and Bill bonded and became fast friends and we began invading their lives for dinner and BBQs. When Charlene's third pregnancy ended happily with the birth of a beautiful, healthy son, we were at the hospital with flowers and cards wishing them well. 

I knew Charlene had suffered a miscarriage and then lost a newborn baby following pre-eclampsia. She almost died too. And I knew it must have been a terrible experience--a heart battering experience--but I never really knew. Charlene put a brave face on her desolation. It's been 15 years since Charlene suffered that tragedy and it's taken most of that time for her to come to terms with the grief and guilt and joy of that stolen miracle. And this book, written with a poet's love of language, a writer's eye for detail and a mother's passion, is the story of that journey. With so many pregnancies ending in sadness rather than joy this is a story for all those who've lost someone they love.  But knowing the vibrant and sparkling personality that Charlene Diehl is I have a hard time believing you would read this book and come away feeling miserable. Charlene is life and true happiness--perhaps as only someone who has experienced real tragedy can be. 

In another twist of fate we all ended up living in Winnipeg. Not only that, but our daughters are best friends. Life is full of circles. This one is beautiful.

Out of Grief, Singing is an achingly beautiful account of how a woman comes to terms with the loss of her newborn. After a bewildering series of rapid diagnoses and emergency interventions, Charlene’s daughter Chloe is born. But her too-brief life is spent in the neonatal intensive care unit, and her mother, leveled by an epidural anaesthetic procedure gone wrong, can barely make it to her daughter's side. In the months following Chloe’s death, more medical crises make it nearly impossible to even begin the grieving process, let alone return to any semblance of a normal life. But return she does, along a path that is both arduous and rich. With a poet's ear for language, Charlene Diehl shares her discovery of joy amidst a devastating loss.

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