By Maria Ross
Red Slice Press, $14.95, 214 pages
The vivacious memoir writer was a marketing and business-branding consultant before her brain exploded. Just like there are no atheists in the foxhole, we can say there are no folks who don’t examine their lives after they almost lose it.
I believe the book is valuable for several reasons. First, Ross is not a professional writer. She doesn’t lie or fictionalize. Her experiences strike me as authentic, compared to many other memoirs. She truly writes with unabashed candor. She had an aneurysm and survived. After the cerebral hemorrhage, she was blind for six weeks and suffered horrible physical pain. She lost her memory and vocabulary. She had eye surgeries, brain surgeries, personal therapies, MRIs, drugs, in-home care, group therapies; the whole business might have cost a million dollars without insurance. What if her husband had not worked at Microsoft, which had excellent benefits?
“When the hectic and meticulously packed suitcase of your life gets dumped out all over the floor, it’s actually a blessing. You can repack it however you want. My life had whipped itself up in a frenzy of change and stress until my head (quite literally) exploded. Once the rubble was cleared away, I saw the world in sharp focus.”
The post-aneurysm months were excruciating, but with tremendous spirit (perhaps that perky marketing optimism helps) we root for her. She’s humorous and honest and even describes her myriad of medical procedures as if she’s talking about her dog, who figures prominently in her recovery. Her reflections on the tenuous, and even frivolous, nature of health are touching. It’s all random. And it doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe.
A year and half after almost dying, she decided to write a book. This book tells us about the last two years of Ross’s life after her brain injury and the trials and tribulations for her, her husband, Paul, and their friends. Do not ever take life for granted. Now she’s “back” to her life and even admits she’s back on the “hamster wheel,” but perhaps with more philosophical reflection focusing on quality more than quantity.