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‘Not since When Breath Becomes Air has a memoir conveyed such profound loss, alongside such luminous and life-affirming love.’ Adrienne Brodeur, author of Wild Game A searing memoir of a mother’s love, the meaning of resilience and the possibilities of life after grief from the New York Times bestselling author of The Still Point of the Turning World. ‘Congratulations on the resurrection of your life,’ a colleague wrote to Emily Rapp Black when she announced the birth of her second child. The line made Emily pause. Her first child, Ronan, had died before he turned three years old from Tay-Sachs disease, an experience she wrote about in her first book, The Still Point of the Turning World. Since that time her life had changed utterly: she had left the marriage that fractured under the terrible weight of her son’s illness, remarried the love of her life, had a flourishing career, and given birth to a healthy baby girl.
But she rejected the idea that she was leaving her old life behind – that she had, in the manner of the mythical phoenix, risen from the ashes and been reborn into a new story, when she carried so much of her old story with her. More to the point, she wanted to carry it with her. Everyone she met told her she was resilient, strong, courageous in ways they didn’t think they could be. But what did these words mean, really?
Sanctuary is an attempt to unpack the various notions of resilience that we carry as a culture. Drawing on contemporary psychology, neurology, etymology, literature, art and self-help, Emily Rapp Black shows how we need a more complex understanding of this concept when applied to stories of loss and healing. Interwoven with lyrical, unforgettable personal vignettes from her life as a mother, wife, daughter, friend and teacher, Rapp Black creates a stunning tapestry that is full of wisdom and insight.
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