The Still Point of the Turning World

The Still Point of the Turning World

Book - 2013
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"Like all mothers, Emily Rapp had ambitious plans for her first and only child, Ronan. He would be smart, loyal, physically fearless, and level-headed, but fun. He would be good at crossword puzzles like his father. He would be an avid skier like his mother. Rapp would speak to him in foreign languages and give him the best education. But all of these plans changed when Ronan was diagnosed at nine months old with Tay-Sachs disease, a rare and always-fatal degenerative disorder. Ronan was not expected to live beyond the age of three; he would be permanently stalled at a developmental level of six months. Rapp and her husband were forced to re-evaluate everything they thought they knew about parenting. They would have to learn to live with their child in the moment; to find happiness in the midst of sorrow; to parent without a future. The Still Point of the Turning World is the story of a mother's journey through grief and beyond it. Rapp's response to her son's diagnosis was a belief that she needed to "make my world big"--to make sense of her family's situation through art, literature, philosophy, theology and myth. Drawing on a broad range of thinkers and writers, from C.S. Lewis to Sylvia Plath, Hegel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Rapp learns what wisdom there is to be gained from parenting a terminally ill child. In luminous, exquisitely moving prose she re-examines our most fundamental assumptions about what it means to be a good parent, to be a success, and to live a meaningful life"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : The Penguin Press, 2013.
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9781594205125
Characteristics: 260 pages ; 22 cm


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Apr 23, 2013

This is a gut-wrenching read. Rapp circles the same questions throughout this memoir - what is a life? what does it mean to live well? how does one face the impossible task of parenting a dying child? She turns to words, her own practice of writing, poets, novelists, theologians, Zen Buddhists, and mostly it feels like words fail. Friends and strangers say the wrong things. There is little comfort beyond moments where she feels absolutely in the present moment with her son, instead of catapulted into thoughts of the future without him. There is no narrative arc to this memoir. There is the diagnosis of Tay-Sachs and then there is the struggle to make meaning. To do a thing that is impossible except you have no choice but to do it. You love because as a parent that is what you can do. This book is a sustained note of fierce grief and unconditional love, and the reader bears witness.


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