Reading Suleika Jaouad’s “Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted” is a reminder to all of us, that at some point in our lives, we will travel between the Kingdom of the Well and the Kingdom of the Sick.
After her leukemia diagnosis and during her long hospital stays, Jaouad discovered the power of her written words. During her journaling, she underwent a bone marrow transplant, a break-up with her boyfriend/caretaker, and follow-up chemo treatments; all of which left her asking “what now?” She writes:
I wanted to understand what had happened to me, to excavate its meaning on my own terms. I wanted the last word to be mine.
And her words are POWERFUL.
Her perspective on what it means to be “Moving On”—
It seemed so easy at first, too easy, and it’s starting to dawn on me that moving on is a myth—a lie you sell yourself on when your life has become unendurable. It’s the delusion that you can build a barricade between yourself and your past—that you can ignore your pain, that you can bury your great love with a new relationship, that you are among the lucky few who get to skip over the hard work of grieving and healing and rebuilding—and that all this, when it catches up to you, won’t come from blood.
Her friends from the Kingdom of the Sick have given her so much knowledge:
They shared their own stories about what it’s like to have life interrupted, whether by the ripcord of a diagnosis or some kind of trauma or heartbreak. They taught me that, when life brings you to the floor, there is a choice: You can allow the worst things that have ever happened to you to hijack your remaining days, or you can claw your way back into motion.
Her book has made me realize my interest in memoirs—in her words:
I understand now why so many writers and artists, while in the thick of illness, become memoirists. It provided a sense of control, a way to reshape your circumstances on your own terms in your own words.
I’m so glad I read her story and wish her well in her continued battle with leukemia.