I’ve read a lot of great books in my lifetime, but it’s rare that I read a book that actually changes my life.
This memoir by Amy Silverstein is a must-read for everyone. Whether or not you think you like memoirs, I don’t care – put this on your list, right now.
My Glory Was I Had Such Friends is about life, death, love, and friendship. As Amy sits in a hospital bed with a failing donor heart on the other side of the country from her home in New York, nine of her friends sign up for time slots to come and stay with her in California as she waits for a second transplant. Her first transplant was when she was only 26 years old, and now at 50, that donor heart is so diseased, Amy is dying quickly.
Each of the friends that comes has a unique personality, a unique relationship with Amy, and a unique way of dealing with Amy’s situation. Amy sees all of these friends in a completely different light: that of a dying woman. Their friendships reach new levels of deepness, and the ways they interact with each other is heartwarming and, at the same time, heartbreaking.
As Amy deteriorates, she sets a date: a date when she’ll ask that her pacemaker be turned off, and await whatever comes after that, which would be certain death after a matter of days or hours. As she counts down to that date while holding out hope for her donor heart, her friends become of more importance to her than ever, and her interactions with them are so touching.
As I read this book, I felt myself forming insights into my own friendships and relationships. It was amazing and beautiful and I highly suggest this book to everyone. I’m a stickler with handing out 5-star ratings, but this one I’d give 6 in a heartbeat.
• Hardcover: 352 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (June 27, 2017)
In this moving memoir about the power of friendship and the resilience of the human spirit, Amy Silverstein tells the story of the extraordinary group of women who supported her as she waited on the precipice for a life-saving heart transplant.
Nearly twenty-six years after receiving her first heart transplant, Amy Silverstein’s donor heart plummeted into failure. If she wanted to live, she had to take on the grueling quest for a new heart—immediately.
A shot at survival meant uprooting her life and moving across the country to California. When her friends heard of her plans, there was only one reaction: “I’m there.” Nine remarkable women—Joy, Jill, Leja, Jody, Lauren, Robin, Valerie, Ann, and Jane—put demanding jobs and pressing family obligations on hold to fly across the country and be by Amy’s side. Creating a calendar spreadsheet, the women—some of them strangers to one another—passed the baton of friendship, one to the next, and headed straight and strong into the battle to help save Amy’s life.
Empowered by the kind of empathy that can only grow with age, these women, each knowing Amy from different stages of her life, banded together to provide her with something that medicine alone could not. Sleeping on a cot beside her bed, they rubbed her back and feet when the pain was unbearable, adorned her room with death-distracting decorations, and engaged in their “best talks ever.” They saw the true measure of their friend’s strength, and they each responded in kind.
My Glory Was I Had Such Friends is a tribute to these women and the intense hours they spent together—hours of heightened emotion and self-awareness, where everything was laid bare. Candid and heartrending, this once-in-a-lifetime story of connection and empathy is a powerful reminder of the ultimate importance of “showing up” for those we love.
About Amy Silverstein
Amy Silverstein is the author of Sick Girl, which won a “Books for a Better Life Award” and was a finalist for the Border’s Original Voices Award. She earned her Juris Doctor at New York University School of Law, has served on the Board of the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), and is an active speaker and writer on women’s health issues and patient advocacy. She lives in New York.