Ex­plor­ing friend­ship

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Reads - Re­view by LINCEE RAY

AMY Sil­ver­stein re­ceived a new heart when was 25 years old, and for the next 26 years, the Amer­i­can beat the odds, sur­pass­ing all ex­pec­ta­tions for a trans­plant re­cip­i­ent.

Then a sin­gle jolt of dizzi­ness warns her that some­thing is ter­ri­bly wrong; her heart is rapidly giv­ing out.

Sil­ver­stein must de­cide to ei­ther hope that she will be lucky enough to re­ceive an­other donor heart or carry on one breath­less step at a time, thank­ful she out­lasted the years she had been promised when she had the trans­plant.

With ei­ther de­ci­sion, months of ag­o­nis­ing pain, nau­sea, sleep­less nights, and hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion would be in her im­me­di­ate fu­ture.

What Sil­ver­stein didn’t ex­pect was a tribe of close friends who spanned all walks of her life to step in and take con­trol. It only took a sim­ple spread­sheet, a few phone calls, and a group of de­ter­mined women who adore Sil­ver­stein to or­gan­ise a sched­ule that made sure she would not be alone dur­ing her hos­pi­tal stay.

Sil­ver­stein’s 2007 mem­oir, Sick Girl (Grove Press), won ac­claim and stirred con­tro­versy for its ad­vo­cacy of pa­tients’ rights. But My Glory Was I Had Such Friends is, at its core, a book about friend­ship.

Sil­ver­stein, now 53, spares no words hon­estly de­scrib­ing the end­less emo­tions she felt when friends from work, child­hood, and her com­mu­nity walked along­side her as she waited for a heart (which she re­ceived in 2014).

She ac­knowl­edges that she felt anger, guilt and frus­tra­tion at times, know­ing that no one around her un­der­stood the per­sonal trauma she was fac­ing.

Yet at the end of the day, Sil­ver­stein re­marks how each woman brought a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive and gift to the hos­pi­tal room.

As dif­fer­ent as these friends were, they all had com­mon goals that brought them to­gether: a love for Amy and a des­per­ate de­sire for her to get a new heart.

As a re­sult, friend­ships deep­ened in courage and per­se­ver­ance, and a new un­der­stand­ing was born for what it means to say, “I’m there” – and truly mean it. – AP

Amy Sil­ver­stein Harper Wave/ HarperCollins, mem­oir

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