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Until I Say Good-Bye

by Bret Witter Susan Spencer-Wendel

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."

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

by Susan Spencer-Wendel

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 GOODBYE 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."

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