There are books that are purely to entertain you, to scare you, to make you laugh, then there are books that move you. Touch you. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe is a book that takes you by the hand and allows you to follow the final months of a wonderful woman’s life.
Mary Ann Schwalbe was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She understood that it was treatable, but not curable. This resulted in a lot of time spent in a hospital. Sitting for hours receiving chemo therapy. Her son, Will, accompanied her quite a bit. They fell into a sort of book club. Reading books together and discussing them.
Mary Ann was a very involved humanitarian. Her latest project was to build a library for Afghanistan. She had many interests and the books they read showcased those interests. They read short stories, biographies, fiction, non fiction. The conversations that they had about the books was fascinating. The detail they went into discussing, the how’s and why’s of a character, a plot.
Besides the books and the conversations about the books, we share the end of Mary Ann’s life. Almost until the very end, she was still actively participating in life, still trying to help others.
There were so many passages that I highlighted:
“We didn’t read only “great books,” we read casually and promiscuously and whimsically”
“There was one sure way to avoid being assigned an impromptu chore in our house – be it taking out the trash or cleaning your room- that was to have your face buried in a book. Like churches during the Middle Ages, books conferred instant sanctuary. Once you entered one, you couldn’t be disturbed.”
“I was learning that when you’re with someone who is dying, you may need to celebrate the past, live the present, and mourn the future all at the same time.’