Love in every line!
Valley of the Shadow
a journey through grief
Sybil Austin Skakle
Many of us hesitate to read a book that we know will carry us through the valley of despair. Who among us has not been there? Been and done, thank you very much. If we have suffered the loss of someone we will love to the depths of our being to the end of our days, we know just how dark the valley can be. There are those who say that angels fear to tread in its Stygian shadows! The idea makes us shiver with apprehension.
Read this book! I promise you, you will be glad.
Sybil Austin Skakle's wrenching, bone-honest account about the bumpy, fog-shrouded road she found herself traveling following the death of her husband, Don, will make you cry, yes. But laughter will not be far behind. Some detours will cause tears, but others will give you a chance to visit interesting people and places. A trip to the beach is in the offing, and virtual tours of Italy and England! Somehow, Sybil Skakle maintains the crucial balance between grief that tugs on your heartstrings, grounding details of day-to-day activities and responsibilities, encouragement by friends determined to do all they can to help, and the excruciatingly slow coming-to-terms that must take place for healing to occur. The pain feels all too real. Emotions are all over the place, and why wouldn't they be? Memories insinuate themselves without provocation -- some good, some bad, some irritating or amusing. Three sons have lost their father! Somehow the author had to pull herself together enough to help them absorb the shock. There is a funeral to get through. All those long, terrible days to come. Don Skakle was a talented and respected coach and professor. His students were in shock. Everyone who knew him. You have to be there for them, she told herself. There are papers to sign and a myriad of details that can't wait. Help me, God!
Writing can be cathartic, and Sybil Skakle had long loved to write. Yet it took almost more courage than she had to write about Don. Her energy was at a very low ebb, and her strength. One day at a time, people said. More like one moment! Fortunately for her readers, catharsis was not her most important goal. It comes across loud and clear that she hoped that telling her story would help other people who have lost loved ones cope a little more easily with -- or at least better understand -- the denial, anger, and depression that come with a loss of that magnitude. But that was not her primary goal, either. This is a love story! It is one of the most moving tributes to a loved one that I have ever read.
I feel that the chapter on sexuality is a big plus. It can't have been easy to write. It would have been very easy to drop it, for fear of offending. It would have been a shame. Our appetite for sex is no more shameful than our appetite for food. To act as if it doesn't exist is in my opinion an insult to our humanity. The chapter on sex, like the rest of the book, is excellent.
The photographs add a lot.
If you like stories that make you wish the author lived next door, you will love this book!