Our Own Forever: a mother, a son and the unthinkable
(work in progress, proposal available Summer 2017)
Our Own Forever is the the author’s story of how parents endure when faced with their worst nightmare. It is Hall’s response to the most common, if rhetorical question parents of sick children face most often: “How do you do it?”
Hall wore all the hats–assumed roles in addition to Supermom, including that of Advocate, Cheerleader, Medical Researcher and Handler in order to quickly get her son the essential medical care needed when gigantism, an infamous disease caused by a large tumor on his pituitary gland, was his diagnosis. Left unchecked, the disease of mythological giants and a few modern day athletes and actors would ruin the quality of his life and could take it prematurely. Hall likens the diagnosis to a tsunami, an earthquake motivated wall of water that left her traumatized and unwillingly swept into the role of Single parent, Orphan and Patient herself.
It is a book filled with humor, the often dark comfort of people facing chronic and critical illness. Their relationships evolved and tightened, as Hall and her two sons confronted divorce, brain surgery, radiation and the death of Hall’s father, together. In her enduring roles, she was Phoenix Rising and PTSD Survivor. Hall navigates the waters of terra incognita no differently than 30 million other families, and hers is a rich memoir told to empower, embolden and celebrate each of them.
Promises Never Die
(work in progress, proposal available Fall 2017)
Promises Never Die is an intimate reveal, written at a hospice bedside and structured around the final ten months of life of a 46-year-old man who succumbs to aggressive, pancreatic cancer. The manuscript feathers together a heart-rending tale of Doug, who chose the author, a complete stranger, to companion him through his last days, asking that she be an unfailingly loyal medical and personal advocate and demanding that she keep both his secrets and the promises he extracted from her. While bedside, Hall savors a deepened understanding of the wishes and needs of people confronting terminal diagnoses. She witnesses first hand the untenable decisions of her companion, his personal struggle to remain in control of his healthcare choices, often in contrast to his family, and the boundless comfort drawn from unconditional, if newly discovered, love. Ultimately, she broadens her appreciation for the evolution of the palliative care movement and end-of-life care, while examining literature on cancer, hospice, pain management, spiritual care and the memoirs of dying people and their caregivers.
The book is part memoir, and part in-depth literary journey, accompanied by Kubler-Ross and Rabbi Harold Kushner and today’s strongest writing on death and dying. The author revisits her myriad journals to refresh the narrative, and recalls never before revealed conversations between herself and Doug, who she came to care for deeply, and suffer anticipatory grief through an extended bereavement in the epilogue. Promises Never Die was written with the Doug’s expressed permission and was one of the promises extracted from the author. His conviction that both the darkness and the enlightenment of his final months be told with complete truthfulness drives this often disquieting biography while offering teachachle moments that were shared by Doug and the author as they wended their way on the perilous journey through his medical care. The text features explorations of the current thinking in the rapidly shifting realm of hospice care. The author’s other bedside hospice experiences are woven into the narrative as she reclaims memories of her father’s “beautiful” death, bedside vigils for friends, and the near-terminal life crises that have lead to her personal conviction that the greatest wisdom and comfort of our lives can often be gained in our final days.