Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Book that Changed Me

This is an old blog, I didn't realize at the time but John Ritter would be the one to help me heal from my PTSD of a 9/11 birthday:

On my weekly trip to the library with E this week, I spotted a book on the " Just In" section and was immediately drawn to it.

With Love And Laughter, John Ritter by Amy YasBeck

A very small book written by his widow Amy YasBeck and when I say written, I mean written. She did this without the help of a ghost writer which is common practice with celebrity's writing books. I am currently reading The Hunger Games and really shouldn't have picked this up. Alas, I did and spent the next four hours glued to the book and finished it within 24 hours.

As many people my age did, I grew up watching John Ritter play Jack Tripper on Three's Company and to boot his father was a singing cowboy. As you know, my Dad and Grandpa love singing cowboys so I remember hearing a lot about this family growing up.

Amy weaves a beautiful picture of love and a great man. She shows the human side of celebrity that many don't often see. She shares the love of a father and husband who really worked hard to be "present" with his family. She shares just enough to leave you wanting more. It's not the well polished work of a professional writer but a labor of love instead. If you expect perfection this book isn't for you, skip it. If you love a great biography/love story then by all means read this book.

One of the reasons I highly identify with this story is the date September 11th is a very common thread or as John Ritter would say, "The Golden Thread of Humanity".

My birthday is September 11th and for many years since that fateful day in 2001, I have struggled to come to terms with celebrating in light of the tragedy. As the years have passed it has grown easier, yet the feeling remains. The Ritter's daughter Stella also shares my birthday, it was her 3rd birthday the day of the attacks. I will share a excerpt that will stay with me this year on my birthday. John Ritter himself said it best on Page 177 of With Love And Laughter;

"I asked him how we could do this. How Could we say "Happy Birthday" when we knew this day would always be the anniversary of the day this evil thing happened? Without hesitating, he said " Stella is proof that love still exists in the world, that somehow, we go on."

Two years later, John Ritter would die on the very same date. I remember working at the hospital on the night shift and hearing the news of his death. I was struggling to make it through my birthday without crying and that ended when I heard of his sudden death on his daughter's 5th birthday.

What a powerful statement and really great thing to think about. So this year on my birthday, which is special anyways, that's what I will be thinking.

The other part of the book that struck a cord with me was Amy's account of her grief. I really identified with parts of her grief and realized, some of the time Marty was sick was spent grieving our life before renal failure. Amy's thoughts on pages 202 and 203 respectively really hit me and are the best description of my viewpoint today.

" I would have pangs of disgust for myself-embarrassment,really- when I would flash back to a moment of frustration or sadness prior to John's death. I started to really beat myself up about time wasted or energy spent over petty disappointments and everyday aggravations." pg 202

"I would struggle to remember what made me sad before John died, and it would pale in comparison to my new circumstances but would excerbate my grief to know I had wasted time. I would think, This is what passed for a problem in those days? You know the good old days- a week ago, a day ago, a hour ago- back when I wasn't a widow."

Of course, I am not a widow but I did grieve our former life. Lucky for me, I get a second chance and now know that little things don't really matter and not to sweat the small stuff in life. Remember when life was simple and if it is simple, enjoy every waking moment.

I cannot recommend this book enough and in fact here is a link to Amazon to buy yourself a copy; With Love and Laughter, John Ritter By Amy YasBeck

I'm not getting paid to do this review, I just simply loved the book that much and wanted to share the nuggets of information that touched my heart.