Saturday, July 24, 2021

Book Review: Ordinarily Extraordinary

Hi friends! I feel like I've read quite a lot of non-fiction this year but honestly, I'm here for it. It really feels like this is the year for it and luckily for you, I have another one I think you should read. 

Ordinarily Extraordinary - Patrick P. Long

When Patrick Long’s wife, Melanie, suffers a terrifying stroke at the age of 45, a medical battle ensues that threatens to devastate their already cancer-altered lives. As Patrick strives to maintain normal routines for their four young children, he struggles through confrontations with doctors while watching Melanie suffer mysterious episodes that continually impair her speech.

Throughout weeks of distressing setbacks, Patrick reflects on their lives, candidly revealing marital clashes, personal trauma, deeply held secrets, failures, and regrets—along with the recognition of Melanie’s indomitable spirit that bolsters him even when cancer’s worst consequence takes the fight from them. Determined to set a positive tone for their family, Patrick rejects pity and finds inspiration in the extraordinary community surrounding them, vowing to not just survive, but thrive.

Ordinarily Extraordinary is a captivating true story interspersed with humor and wondrous revelations of the human experience. This fascinatingly rare and unique perspective of a surviving husband and father is a beautifully uplifting story of love and anger, life and death, and hope and inspiration.
I'll be honest, I thought I was going to fly through this but instead I found myself really struggling. Not because it was bad in any way, quite the opposite, it was so very good and it really hit home for me. If you know me in real life you know that I had a significant medical event, and while it wasn't cancer and I am obviously here to tell the tale, it has impacted my life greatly. Not just mine, but the lives of everyone in our family. My husband has really gone through the wringer, everything from thinking I was dead, to finding out I wasn't dead but likely heavily impaired, to realizing he was going to be a sole provider for six people, to getting me home and realizing that yes, I was truly impaired, to always worrying about me being OK while trying to keep four kids on the right path, and everyone housed and fed. It's a lot for one person to shoulder, and he does it well. 

A lot of what Patrick talks about in this book really reminded me of my husband. It was like getting a peak into his mind because the emotions laid bare in this book are so eloquently written and I felt like I was going through it again. Also having four children, I could identify with the same struggles and just the juggling act that four very different children, all at different stages, brings. I really wanted to just hug all of the kids because kids just are silent warriors sometimes and it's not for a lack of feeling, sometimes it's so much feeling and they kind of freeze up. Then to have all of these high (and low) emotions under one roof is so much and it is so hard. 

Patrick and Melanie's marriage wasn't perfect, but it was theirs. So many of their arguments were the same ones I have had with my husband. Similar struggles, similar arguments, so many of the same feelings. I was moved by how affected I was from this book that I feel like I'm struggling to tell you how much you should read this. While I think this is a touching memoir that anyone who has lost a loved one, especially to cancer, or witnessed someone struggle medically and have felt helpless, this is an amazing read for couples. So many of the situations they went through are incredibly common but all of them are things we always believe we won't go through. Not us, we're healthy, we have good jobs, we REALLY love each other, etc. 

Life obstacles literally care about none of that. Fate is cruel, the future is unpredictable, and life is hard. Those are the only things you can count on. 

This is a beautiful book. Melanie sounds like she was a pretty amazing person, and anyone who can befriend a bill collector is pretty alright in my book. I highly recommend this one. I also highly recommend loving on the people you have while you have them. Extra hard. 
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1 comment:

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I'm so glad you loved this one. I am a big fan of nonfiction and I want to try reading more.