As soon as I read the back cover for My Glory Was I Had Such Friends, I knew that it was going to make me feel things. Especially since it’s a memoir, so everything was real in the book. Ugh, it just gets me right in the feelings.
Right off the bat, I knew this book was going to end happily. It had to, right? It’s a memoir about Amy Silverstein’s wait for a second heart transplant. Since the book was written, it means she gets the second heart at the end of the book. But, God, what a wait!
Amy and her husband relocate to California, because there’s a better chance of her getting the heart she needs. Shortly after this decision is made, she gets an email from one of her friends. It includes a spreadsheet that spans the time she’ll be spending in California. Every single day is filled in with a name.
Prepare your heart and soul: Amy’s friends are going to essentially drop their lives for a bit and wait with her. They all take turns visiting her in the hospital for a few days at a time even though they have jobs, younger children, husbands, etc. The power of this female friendship is what gets me right in the feels.
But they don’t just visit her in the hospital. They stay with her, they talk with the doctors, they sit with her and scratch her back while her pacemaker fires at night very painfully. They decorate the room with pictures of Amy’s friends and family acting goofy. They plan elaborate escapes so Amy can go outside for a few minutes. They remind Amy that she shouldn’t be so hard on her husband, Scott, even though she’s in pain. They all give her something different, but equally special.
My Glory Was I Had Such Friends is heartbreaking, heartwarming, and about a heart transplant. It’s just full of heart. It’s made me consider my own friendships. Would I drop everything if one of my friends was in the hospital as seriously as Amy was? God, I hope so. I really hope that I have the strength and love that the women in this book showed for their friend.
Everyone should read this book to gain a better understanding of what it’s like to be so seriously sick that you’d rather die peacefully than continue to fight your own body. And to understand the deep love a friendship can hold. And, if you take things for granted like me, to better appreciate the health and strength of your body on a daily basis.
• Hardcover: 352 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (June 27, 2017)
In this moving memoir about the power of friendship and the resilience of the human spirit, Amy Silverstein tells the story of the extraordinary group of women who supported her as she waited on the precipice for a life-saving heart transplant.
Nearly twenty-six years after receiving her first heart transplant, Amy Silverstein’s donor heart plummeted into failure. If she wanted to live, she had to take on the grueling quest for a new heart—immediately.
A shot at survival meant uprooting her life and moving across the country to California. When her friends heard of her plans, there was only one reaction: “I’m there.” Nine remarkable women—Joy, Jill, Leja, Jody, Lauren, Robin, Valerie, Ann, and Jane—put demanding jobs and pressing family obligations on hold to fly across the country and be by Amy’s side. Creating a calendar spreadsheet, the women—some of them strangers to one another—passed the baton of friendship, one to the next, and headed straight and strong into the battle to help save Amy’s life.
Empowered by the kind of empathy that can only grow with age, these women, each knowing Amy from different stages of her life, banded together to provide her with something that medicine alone could not. Sleeping on a cot beside her bed, they rubbed her back and feet when the pain was unbearable, adorned her room with death-distracting decorations, and engaged in their “best talks ever.” They saw the true measure of their friend’s strength, and they each responded in kind.
My Glory Was I Had Such Friends is a tribute to these women and the intense hours they spent together—hours of heightened emotion and self-awareness, where everything was laid bare. Candid and heartrending, this once-in-a-lifetime story of connection and empathy is a powerful reminder of the ultimate importance of “showing up” for those we love.
About Amy Silverstein
Amy Silverstein is the author of Sick Girl, which won a “Books for a Better Life Award” and was a finalist for the Border’s Original Voices Award. She earned her Juris Doctor at New York University School of Law, has served on the Board of the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), and is an active speaker and writer on women’s health issues and patient advocacy. She lives in New York.