July 22, 2011
By writing this book, Toni Bernhard has created a generous gift to people who are ill and for the people who care for them. I was hesitant about opening the book (recommended by a friend) because it sounded depressing, but I was completely engaged by Toni’s voice. It seemed to me that she embodied the process she writes about with loving kindness and compassion – and not a little humor – sharing what has been a long struggle with doctors and the loss of so many parts of her life.
She shares her story that includes becoming ill with something doctors don’t seem to be able to name or treat, having to give up her career, and losing many of her social connections. By continuing her practice of Buddhism she was able to open doors, as she says, to what her life had to offer. Limited, yes, but not without joy.
Her explanations of Buddhism are not only clear, but are given in a way that makes each practice understandable in the context of illness and loss. I checked the book out from our local library, but realized that, while I enjoyed the first read, if I were to actually going to try to adopt the practices in my own life I needed to buy a copy. She invites each reader to take the path her book outlines, to find that, “There’s nothing wrong with our life. It’s just our life.”
Since every life has disappointments and pain, the message Toni gives can be easily generalized to parenting, aging, or your own personal version of limitations. I recommend this book very highly.