I hope you enjoy her post and will check out her book.
“There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way
they were.”-- Dwight D. Eisenhower, American president
We like to pretend that child death is rare. But it isn’t, it’s just more hidden than in the days when parents routinely expected to lose children to scarlet fever or diphtheria. With improved public health and technology, many more child deaths are preventable. But kids still die. Life offers no guarantees.
Lisa asked me to write about surviving this “unthinkable” loss. Before it happens to you or someone you know, or even someone you read about, the death of a child truly is unthinkable. We just don’t expect to bury our children. As parents, we need the protective illusion that our love will keep our children safe.
I was 24-years-old when I became a mother and fell hopelessly in love with my bright, beautiful little girl. I could never have imagined that 19 years later I would be staring down at Maya’s face in a coffin.
Maya’s death demanded that I step into a new level of mothering – radical letting go. At the age of 43, grieving for Maya forced me to mature spiritually and emotionally, and to reach a new understanding of the meaning of love. Love, in my new universe, included the ability to allow my child to have her death, on her own terms.
I can’t sugarcoat this process of letting go. I thought it would kill me. Swimming with Maya shows how day by day I fought to raise my surviving daughter, Meghan, continue my professional life as a writer and editor, and find my balance in the midst of overwhelming sorrow.
Grief recovery is a dance where for every step forward you take two steps back, and yet somehow in the end you begin to spiral upward. Other than mothering, grief was the hardest work I’ve every done. I was fortunate to have a strong inner core, a set of spiritual beliefs, innate resilience, and a host of friends and family. Even so, there were days when I thought I wouldn’t make it.
How do we get back up after life knocks us down? This is the question Swimming with Maya attempts to answer. As a memoir, my book is a very personal account of one woman’s journey. It is not a self-help book, but it is inspirational and motivational because it shows how I became more resilient than I ever thought I could be.
Deciding to donate Maya’s organs and tissues to strangers in need was a huge factor in my recovery, and in the way Meghan dealt with the loss of her sister. We were privileged to have something miraculous came out of something horrific. That gave us hope. Having hope motivated me to keep on keeping on.
In Swimming with Maya I recount our journey in detail. Please enter to win a copy of my book, and thanks to Lisa for hosting me today."
Called “engaging” by Booklist, Swimming with Maya chronicles the life and death of Eleanor’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Maya, who was thrown from a horse and pronounced brain-dead at the hospital. Eleanor donated her daughter’s organs to critically ill patients and poignantly describes her friendship with a middle-aged man who was the recipient of Maya’s heart.
Since the initial publication of Swimming with Maya in 2004, Eleanor has been a national spokesperson on grief recovery and organ donation, appearing on CNN and San Francisco’s Evening Magazine. She has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, and been interviewed on radio and television programs around the country.
She was born in Cleveland, Ohio and attended the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College, where she occasionally teaches writing workshops on creative nonfiction and memoir.
Her essays appear in the anthologies At the End of Life: True Stories about How we Die(edited by Lee Gutkind); This I Believe: On Motherhood; and Impact: An Anthology of Short Memoirs. They celebrate the unique and complicated bonds between mothers and daughters, making hard decisions as a parent – whether your child is 14 or 40 – and navigating midlife transitions with grace and authenticity.
She lives in Oakland, California.
In a memoir that has been called "heartbreaking and heart-healing," Eleanor Vincent shares an inspiring true story of courage, creativity, faith, and sheer tenacity as she seeks to find balance after unthinkable tragedy.
Previously available only in hardcover, Swimming with Maya demonstrates the remarkable process of healing after the traumatic death of a loved one. Eleanor Vincent raised her two daughters, Maya and Meghan, virtually as a single-parent. Maya, the eldest, was a high-spirited and gifted young woman. As a toddler, Maya was an angelic tow-head, full of life and curiosity. As a teenager, Maya was energetic and independent - and often butted heads with her mother. But Eleanor and Maya were always close and connected, like best friends or sisters, but always also mother and daughter.
Then at age 19, Maya mounts a horse bareback as a dare and, in a crushing cantilever fall, is left in a coma from which she will never recover. Eleanor's life is turned upside down as she struggles to make the painful decision about Maya's fate.
Ultimately Eleanor chooses to donate Maya's organs. Years later, in one of the most poignant moments you will ever read about, Eleanor has the opportunity to hear her daughter's heart beat in the chest of the heart recipient. Along the way, Eleanor re-examines her relationship with her daughter, as well as the experiences that shaped Eleanor as a woman and as a mother to Maya.
An inspirational/motivational true story recommended for anyone who has experienced tragedy, who is grappling
with traumatic experiences of the past, or who wants to better understand the strength and healing power of the human spirit.
Book Hashtag: #SWMaya
Monday, October 14 @ The MuffinStop by for an interview and book giveaway!
Tuesday, October 15 @ The New Book Review Today's Author Spotlight at the New Book Review belongs to none other than Eleanor Vincent author of the insightful, touching, and inspiring memoir Swimming with Maya. Don't miss this tour stop! http://www.thenewbookreview.blogspot.com
Wednesday, October 16@ Books I Think You Should ReadEleanor Vincent offers a giveaway for her parenting memoir Swimming with Maya and Elizabeth provides an honest review of this moving book.
Thursday, October 17 @ Steph the Bookworm Steph reviews the best selling motivational memoir, Swimming with Maya by Eleanor Vincent and offers a giveaway of this touching and inspirational story of loss.
Friday, October 18 @ CMash Reads Join Eleanor Vincent as she gifts readers with her insight on "Parenting a Gifted or Difficult Teen" and offers a giveaway of her memoir Swimming with Maya.
Monday, October 21 @ Mom~E~Centric Eleanor Vincent and her touching inspirational memoir make a tour stop at Mom~E~Centric as Eleanor blogs about "The Challenges of Single Parenthood" and dishes about her highly ranked memoir AND offers a giveaway of Swimming with Maya to readers; you won't want to miss this!
Wednesday, October 23 @ Meryl.Net Eleanor Vincent visits with Meryl Evans and speaks about her experience and offers insights about "Reaching Out to Readers on Social Media" as well as offering a giveaway for her moving memoir Swimming with Maya.
Monday, October 28 @ The Literary Ladies Join memoir writer extraordinaire Eleanor Vincent as she shares insights about "Balancing Writing with Promotional Activities" and offers a giveaway for her incredibly moving memoir Swimming with Maya.
Wednesday, October 30 @ Book Worm Eleanor Vincent shares her insights into "Resilience" as she visits Anjanette Potter at Book Worm. This great stop also offers a giveaway of Eleanor's touching memoir Swimming with Maya - this is a stop you won't want to miss!
Thursday, October 31 @ All Things Audry Eleanor Vincent talks about "Motherhood Then and Now" and offers a giveaway of her memoir Swimming with Maya. Don't miss this blog stop or this unforgettable story of love!
Friday, November 1 @ Memory Writers Network Swimming
with Maya makes a WOW! Blog Stop at Memory Writer's Network. Don't miss this opportunity
to learn more about Eleanor Vincent and her moving memoir.
Thursday, November 7 @ Lisa M. Buske
Join Eleanor Vincent as she shares a guest post "Surviving the Unthinkable Loss of a Child" with Lisa M. Buske and offers a giveaway of her memoir Swimming with Maya.
Monday, November 11 @ Chaos in the Country
Nichole Smith reviews Eleanor Vincent's moving story of a mother's love in the memoir Swimming with Maya and offers not only a giveaway of this unforgettable book but also a guest post by Eleanor about "Organ Donation and Transplantation" (from the perspective of the donor family).
Friday, November 15 @ ChoicesEleanor shares with readers "What Every Memoir Writer Should Know" and offers a giveaway of her touching memoir about loss, love, and moving forward: Swimming with Maya.