4 out of 4 stars
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"Most of us acknowledge the blessings we receive and are thankful for them. When blessings are borne of adversity, they can be a little harder to recognize." In Difficult Blessings, Lori Heaton shares the bittersweet life lessons she learned from her daughter's illness.
Written in the first-person narrative, Heaton chronicles her family's journey after four-year-old Maddie's diagnosis of pulmonary arterial hypertension. With heartfelt honesty, Heaton details the challenges of caring for a child with an incurable life-threatening disease while advocating for Maddie to live the purpose-filled life she desired. Each chapter reflects a "difficult blessing" learned. Topics include the importance of family, compassion, gratitude, resilience, embracing spirituality, God's tender mercies, sacrifice, happiness, and learning to live in the moment. The overall message is uplifting and inspirational not only regarding illness but also in facing adversity in general. The book concludes with a small photo gallery featuring Maddie, friends, and family members.
As a parent, I can't begin to imagine the experience of fighting daily for my child's life, which Heaton relates beautifully. She somehow manages to portray both the anguish and simple joys that were simultaneously present in her family's daily lives. After Maddie was subsequently diagnosed and conquered acute lymphocytic leukemia, she eventually needed two lung transplants. Heaton transparently describes struggling with anger toward God and how she learned to view tender mercies as answers to prayers. Also, as a nurse by profession, she simplifies the medical jargon associated with the many symptoms and procedures Maddie endured.
However, it was the glimpses Heaton provided of Maddie's indomitable spirit that particularly moved me. "Maddie could have confronted her trials with bitterness and resentment, but I never once heard her complain that life was unfair." Nicknamed "Miracle Maddie" by those who were involved in her medical care, Heaton described her daughter as having the spirit of a warrior and a sassy attitude. In and out of hospitals from the time she was 4-24, Maddie still exemplified joy--sporting a pink mohawk because "life is too short for boring hair" and spontaneously busting Michael Jackson moves the first time she was freed from her continuous IV.
The book was also exceptionally edited. While there were aspects of the book dealing with Maddie's illness that I found difficult to read, they didn't detract from its overall uplifting message. As I found no other improvements needed, I'm pleased to rate the book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to readers who appreciate inspirational reads related to facing adversity. It will also be a helpful resource for the parents and caretakers of those with illnesses.
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