I made some new friends this weekend which is unusual, because I've become rather introverted over the last six years. However, I've let go and have all out enjoyed getting to know these folks from the bottom of my heart. They're the kind of people with whom you wouldn't mind sharing the whole of life. Now that I know them, I wish they were my back door neighbors. The Becks are a family who are literally down to earth who teach other how to live abundantly. Of course, I haven't really ever met them in person, but rest assured they are real and knowable people. Martha wrote so candidly about herself and her family, it makes me ache as a writer myself that she split herself wide open and laid her innermost being on the line for all to see. I tend to want to dash from a room and throw up once I realize someone has read my own work before we've gotten a chance to know one another. For me, it always feels like a I'm-naked-in-school-dream come true. And I don't even write about myself in publications (I know I do here, but it's not the same). What vulnerability it must have taken for Martha to put herself and her family in print. And I love her for it. Martha Beck's book is called Expecting Adam, and I'll let her tell you in her own words what it's about:
This is the story of two driven Harvard academics who found out in midpregnancy that their unborn son would be retarded. To their own surprise and the horrified dismay of the university community, the couple ignored the abundant means, motive, and opportunity to obtain a therapeutic abortion. They decided to allow their baby to be born. What they did not realize is that they themselves were the ones who would be 'born', infants in a new world where magic is commonplace, Harvard professors are the slow learners, and retarded babies are the master teachers.
Here's another section I feel compelled to share:
There were other people who didn't seem to hear me either. Once, after I gave a speech to a woman's club and mentioned my experience having Adam, a member of the group came up to me in the women's room. She burst into tears and said, " I wanted you to know that I had to make the same decision you did, and I chose the wrong thing!" She had, in other words, consented to an abortion. As I watched her face contort with anguish, I felt that my heart was being ripped from its moorings. I don't know if she took in what I said, so I want to say it again,in case she's out there.
There's a Chinese word that means "soul sister", and that is word I would use to address you in my heart. Listen to me, soul sister: Fate or luck or destiny already put you through hell once. Please don't make it worse by condemning yourself. There is no choice that would have left you feeling not guilt. Every time I watch Adam struggle to speak, every time I see other children laugh and point at him, every time I watch his face fall as he realizes he is not going to be treated like the other kids, I feel wrenched by guilt just as you did when you heard my story. Life is hard. We make the best choices we can. Condemnation, whether it comes from you or inside you, only robs the world of another dram of compassion. God knows, we needs all the compassion we can get. If you promise to try to forgive yourself, I'll try to forgive myself as well. I think in my heart of hearts, that there is nothing for either one of us to forgive.
I recognize how loony it sounds to love the person of an author, but I do. I learned even more from Martha how to love foolishly- my personal goal in life.