Mom, I Want to Speak to Marie Antoinette: A Story About Traumatic Brain Injury, Abuse, Death, Divorce, Love & Laughterby Wendy Gaynor
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A call from the police telling single mom Wendy Gaynor that her 18-year old daughter, Ruby, had been in an extremely serious car accident changed October 5, 1995 from an ordinary fall day to an extraordinary one. On the sixty minute drive through torrential rain and gusting winds to get to the hospital, Wendy didn’t know if Ruby was dead or alive. The grim diagnosis: Ruby was in a coma, on a respirator, unresponsive to voice or touch. She had suffered a traumatic brain injury. The future of Wendy’s family, if in fact there was one, was unknown. In what felt like the blink of an eye, the life her family had lived was over and nothing would ever be the same again.
Without even knowing it, Wendy was prepared for the call, had been waiting her whole life to honestly and truly see what she was made of. Her childhood had been filled with copious amounts of glorious and atrocious moments. Her daughters had been her salvation.
Wendy would move into Ruby’s ICU room, sleep on a fold-down chair, shower wherever she could find an empty room, eat whatever snacks visitors brought and create a new life for herself and Ruby within the confines of the hospital. Violet, Ruby’s sister, a 16-year old junior in high school was for all intents and purposes, cast aside. Living alone, eating alone, getting to school alone, her only contact with her family, her daily visits to the hospital. Standing by Ruby’s bedside, day after day, week after week, seeing her sister more dead than alive, being a bystander to a tragedy she could neither control nor grasp.
In this stirring and electrifying narrative, Wendy tells the breathtaking true story of Ruby’s catastrophic injuries and her struggle to survive. With the help of hospital records and reminiscences of family and friends, Wendy is able to evoke those harrowing days with objectivity and passion--would Ruby awaken from her coma or remain in a persistent vegetative state, would a collapsed lung complicate an already critical situation, would Ruby survive?
With an introduction from Dr. Steven Flanagan, Howard A Rusk Professor and Chair of Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University School of Medicine, Mom, I Want to Speak to Marie Antoinette is a powerful and poignant account of one family’s struggle to turn tragedy into triumph, setbacks, turmoil and disharmony into serenity and success. It is Wendy’s love story to her daughters.
- Wendy Gaynor
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