The Long Hall

While John and I were having a nice, romantic anniversary dinner last weekend – our 28th – I was thinking of another man. And another couple’s marriage.   And how, when you say those words, “in sickness and in health,” you never really know what you’re getting into.

As anybody who has read a few of my posts knows, John and I have been both lucky and unlucky through the years. I’ve had a lot of health issues that neither of us bargained for – infertility and Crohn’s to be specific. But through it all, John has been with me every step, helping me, cheering me, making me do things I don’t want to have to do.

Illness effects all members of the family, and changes their lives. Some people rise to the occasion, and some are brought down by it. I am delighted to say that I’ve been truly lucky to have this guy with me through all the , ummm, shit. I even nominated him for Sainthood when he survived a particularly, ummm, nasty point in my Crohn’s.

But the other man I was thinking of on our wedding anniversary was Charles Gulotta.  OK, I was thinking about his wife, Jill, too.  So don’t criticize.

Two weeks earlier, I’d finished reading Charles’ memoir, the Long Hall.

The Long Hall by Charles Gulotta

The Long Hall by Charles Gulotta

 

It’s the story of how Charles and Jill met, fell in love, married, and had a daughter, Allison. It’s also the story of a simple twist of fate that changed their lives dramatically, when Jill suffered a stroke during childbirth. It’s the story of how Charles went from a happy expectant father, to a shocked but loving caregiver to two very different people, one infant and one adult, with very different needs.

It is now a month since I read the book. And honestly, I haven’t stopped thinking about it.  The story sounds a wee bit depressing, doesn’t it?  I will admit, there are a lot of rough patches.  But that’s not what I found so memorable.   What stayed with me is a constant feeling of hope.

Often, when I’ve read Charles’ delightful blog, Mostly Bright Ideas, I’ve felt that he’s gotten into my head, asked questions that have been milling around in my mind for years. With The Long Hall, Charles got into my heart as well.  And I really think that this book will stay with me, always.

Read it. It is the most uplifting story I have read in decades.

63 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Bloggin' Buddies, Bloggin' Buddy Books, Books, Crohn's Disease, Family, Health and Medicine

63 responses to “The Long Hall

  1. I can empathize with the whole “in sickness & health” thing because my marriage is going through the same thing since my COPD diagnosis. My role has changed, I used to be fiercely independent & now I am dependent on my hubby for help with a bunch of household duties & shopping, etc.. And things are only going to get worse because I am going to get sicker & more dependent. And he’s going to have to watch me deteriorate. When I try to talk to him about it he doesn’t want to face it yet, but says he will be there.
    I enjoy those kinds of books too. Belated Happy Anniversary! My anniversary is Oct. 6, it’s our 13th year of marriage, but 18 years together.

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    • Happy Anniversary, Benze! The whole judicial deterioration/sickness shit sucks, Benze. I do hope they find help for you. But it does sound like you have a good guy with you.

      The book is quite uplifting.

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  2. Happy 28 to you and John … here’s to many, many more!

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  3. On your recommendation, Elyse, I will put this on my reading list. It sounds terribly sad, but I hope is the key word here.

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  4. Happy Anniversary, Elyse! 28 years is a Long Haul in and of itself. Congratulations!

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    • Thanks, Dina. Sometimes it feels like much longer — I was 29 when I married so after next year I will have been married longer than I wasn’t. Those milestones are always hard to grasp!

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  5. Julie

    Happy Anniversary to you both!
    I imagine I was blessed with good health because I will probably not have a soul mate.
    I look forward to checking out his blog, and like the others am not sure if I am brave enough to read the book…

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    • Well, Julie, I’m glad you have good health, but I hear they aren’t mutually exclusive. I found John amongst a group of friends I’d had for years.

      Charles’s blog is great. But the book is more uplifting than sad — kind of like one of those song that you play that’s sad but makes you feel better after you hear it.

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  6. Two of my favorite bloggers loved the book, so it must be great.

    And happy belated anniversary, Elyse. John is damn lucky to have you, no matter the ups and downs. Tell him I said so!

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  7. What a great endorsement of his book. You’re a great blogger buddy, Elyse! And Happy Anniversary!

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  8. Thank you for all of the kind words, Elyse. I spent a lot of years struggling with this story, trying to figure out how to tell it. Most of the time, I was just wondering why anyone would care about it, or have any interest at all. You’ve helped answer that question for me, and I no longer have to wonder.

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    • Among other things, it was a wonderful gift to your daughter. But for me it helped me look at my own life and its problems and imperfections and remember that even when things are truly terrible, love and hope is there. You just have to find it.

      I wasn’t kidding or exaggerating when I said “it’s the most uplifting story I have read in decades.”

      I’m very glad you wrote it.

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  9. Sounds like an inspiration, both stories. Congrats on your anniversary and thanks for the recommendation.

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  10. I’m still thinking about his book and I know it’ll stay with me for the rest of my life, it’s that powerful.

    And happy anniversary to you two crazy kids!

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  11. Thanks for the introduction to his blog, and for pointing us in the direction of The Long Hall. I’ve marked this one for purchase, and look forward to delving deeper into his story. Hope you are doing well, and tell little Duncan we said howdy from Texas. 🙂

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    • Thanks, 99! His blog is one of my favs. And the book, well, I think you got the idea.

      I’ll let Duncan know you say howdy. He’s doing better — nearly 40 pounds somehow (at 5 months!)

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  12. Having an ex that wasn’t really good at health issues, his own or anyone else’s, I have been lucky to marry a guy who is there for everything. It makes a huge difference. The book sounds real — sad but with a twist of hope.

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    • Glad you are in a better place, Kate! It makes a huge difference.

      Surprisingly as I keep saying in my comments, while the events in the book are terribly sad, the overwhelming feeling I got from is was one of hope and of love. And while they don’t transcend all, they give us reason to go on, no matter what.

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  13. I follow Charles’ blog, but haven’t read the book. I’ll have to.
    I liked your comment about rising or falling under the weight of adversity. I know our family is stronger because of adversity, but I know families that have crumbled under similar circumstances.
    It’s nice to hear that you and your husband are one of the strong ones.

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    • You know, Margie, I think we’re all strong and we’re all weak — not really one or the other. That said, my husband is a gem (OK, a decidely imperfect stone!). He hates medical stuff, doctors, etc. But he does what needs to be done. I am very lucky.

      If you’ve come through fire, I think you will especially like the book, especially since you already know what an amazing writer Charles is!

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  14. Happy anniv. We just passed 15 years on 9/11. When we got married, we thought 9.11.99 was an interesting little confluence of numbers. Little did we know.

    Does anyone really know what they’re getting themselves into when they’re standing at the alter? It’s all so very mysterious. Thanks for the recommendation. Books like that serve to remind me of what a whiner I am. They’re a proper (and needed) reality check.

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    • I guess given your anniversary, it’s safe to say you were not involved in the planning of the terror attacks, right? That must be so hard — to be celebrating on a difficult day.

      And yes, nobody really has any idea of what they get into when they marry. I guess that makes sense given that you never know how you’re going to react on your own to a given situation — how could you possibly know how your spouse will?

      To me, the book is a reminder of how lucky I’ve been, but also how much pure, unadulterated hope there is in the world. Not everywhere, and things don’t always work out, but hope is a powerful tool in life. And this book filled me with it and really made me look at the future a little bit differently.

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  15. Happy Anniversary to you both! I shall check out the blog and the book, too 🙂
    MJ

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  16. Terrific and moving review!

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  17. Paul

    Happy Anniversary Elyse and John.

    Thanks for the review Elyse – it sounds well done.

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  18. Happy Anniversary! Having a supportive someone in our life makes all the difference IN our lives.

    “The Long Hall” sounds like a poignant memoir. Nice of you to spread the word.

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    • The Long Hall is poignant — that’s the perfect description. I really do keep thinking about it — I read it over a month ago now, and didn’t need to re-read it to think about what I wanted to say in this post. That’s astonishing to me because I always forget salient features of most of the books I read!

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  19. I don’t think I am strong enough to read that

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  20. Happy anniversary! This is the second glowing review I’ve read for this book. I am a little afraid of it (so,so sad) but I think it’s probably important to read… and good to know that it’s also uplifting.

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  21. Such a good spirit, Elyse. It looks good on you.

    Best wishes to you and John.

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  22. First, a very happy anniversary. I will be heading over to read your recommendation.

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  23. My Hubby and I have been through infertility too. My health has never been the greatest either (Not related infertility). I’m sorry you’ve been there too. This sounds like a great book. 🙂

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  24. I just started reading it, Elyse. Happy anniversary!

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  25. Happy Anniversary! We have only been married six years and I would be have to be 82 to make it to 28. It could happen. 🙂

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  26. Must be quite a tale. A blessing to have someone at your side at a time as what Jill went through. I know of a family that went through a similar situation and there was talk of putting the baby up for adoption. So sad. Thanks for sharing.

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    • It really is, Totsy. And there aren’t too many writers who can find the hope and the humor in such a challenging situation.

      Your story really is terribly sad. I hope things worked out OK for them.

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  27. 1jaded1

    Firstly, Happy Anniversary, Elyse. Secondly, I will check out his blog.

    Like

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