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Now You See the Sky by Catharine H. Murray
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Now You See the Sky

by Catharine H. Murray

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is the story of a child's fight with leukemia, his death and the family's grief. It's a heartbreaking story, as stories that end with the death of a child are.

What makes it different from other such memoirs is that the family chose to return to rural Thailand for the final stages of their son's illness.

Author Catherine Murray, fresh out of college, headed to Thailand to work for two years in a refugee camp. She fell in love with the country, its landscapes and culture, and eventually with her soon-to-be husband, whom she met literally by the side of the road. Together they started a family as well as a tourist business.

They tried living in Seattle with their children but missed the Thai culture and supportive extended family bonds. When their five year old son, Chan, was diagnosed with leukemia, they again returned to Seattle to seek state of the art treatment.

But it failed.

And so they returned to Thailand where their extended family met them with open hearts and arms and unlimited support.

They were able to focus on their son in a beautifully peaceful rural environment, surrounded by the Buddhist culture including the awareness/mindfulness of each moment. Although healthcare was very limited, they had been told that only palliative care was possible, they decided it would be best for Chan to die among the people who loved him rather than in the hospital the little boy hated.

And yet, there are parts of this book that disturbed me deeply. This six year old boy spent a lot of time crying and in misery, which the mother believed was the boy working things out and removing toxins from his psyche. He would beg for morphine and she would withhold it. I won't judge this mother – I haven't walked in her shoes. Part of her believed that he might yet be cured. But I think I would have made different choices.

Well written and a look at a part of a culture that you don't usually see – this Thai/American family's experience with the Thai management of illness, Buddhist funerals, and grief. ( )
  streamsong | Apr 11, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What a beautiful memoir! While the subject matter was very difficult, it was beautifully written. As someone who also went through medical challenges with a young child, I really related to the author and she put such true, powerful words to the tragedy and agonizing decisions parents must make. This book made me smile, cry, and think deeply. One of my favorites so far this year. ( )
  Alyssamarie9 | Feb 12, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An endearing story that gives us insight into Taiwanese culture from the viewpoint of an American woman who goes to Thailand, falls in love and makes a life there. I particularly liked the description of the rituals surrounding the birth of a child, and the gentle way in which the new mother is allowed to rest and regain her strength.

When incurable illness strikes a child, we see the agonizing choices that the parents have to make, the pain they suffer as their child suffers, the swings between hope and despair, the challenges around the illness for the siblings, and finally the loss of the child's life. Though it all there is uncertainly, and doubt, and love.

This book will be a comfort to families who must face similar illness and loss, and offers a way of understanding to others who may know of such families, or who just want to have a window into this world. ( )
  GailNyoka | Nov 2, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The author graduates from college in the United States and is ready for an adventure. She travels to Thailand where she has agreed to work at a refugee camp for two years. She had no plans after that, but life has a way of getting in the way of plans anyway. Instead of returning to the U.S. she falls in love and marries a local man, opting to remain in this rural land and raising a family. However, when her second son is diagnosed with cancer, she and her family return to the U.S. in an attempt to save him. When that is not possible, they return to Thailand, where they hope the clean air, water and simple food will save him. It is a heartbreaking loss, one I found myself sharing as I sat on my couch with tears streaming down my face. This book is a wonderful look at what life is like in another country where maybe they do more right than we do. ( )
  Susan.Macura | Oct 25, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This memoir is a slice of life. It follows the author through her early career immediately after college. We see her young, naive, and abroad in Thailand teaching in a rural town. She meets a local man and begins what she believes will be a summer fling. Meanwhile, her intended time to stay passes and she keeps coming up with reasons to remain. Finally, she admits that she is in love and they are married.

They have a simple life in the countryside and they begin to start a family. They briefly flirt with returning to America but after an aborted attempt they return to Thailand. Matters seem so perfectly at peace, when the author's middle son is diagnosed with Leukemia. This is a heartfelt account of the illness and grieving process. She faces the almost certain outcome of her son's death but still the hope remains. She learns to fight everyday even though intellectually there appears to be no possible chance. A thoughtful, sad, and beautiful book. ( )
  Juva | Oct 24, 2018 |
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