World-renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Jack Silver has been through hell and back. After he and his wife, Shannon, lose their daughter when she is just three days old, their family is left shattered. The e?ects of the tragedy are devastating. Shannon with-draws from the family while harboring a dark secret. Jack emotionally abandons his wife and surviving teenage son, Travis, and dives into his work. But years later, on the exact anniversary of her daughter’s death, Shannon is killed by a speeding motorist under peculiar circumstances. As he grieves next to his wife’s lifeless body, Jack makes the fateful decision to lock away his faith and hope forever.
In a futile attempt to preserve his wife’s memory, Jack hides the bleak facts of Shannon’s death from Travis. As more time passes, the already-strained relation-ship between father and son becomes estranged. Desperate to alleviate his loneliness, Jack befriends the young and witty Dr. Christina Amity—while hiding troubling symptoms that seem to increase by the day. But when Jack receives a shocking diagnosis from Dr. Amity, everything changes.
Be Still is the poignant tale of a son seeking truth and resolution from an absent father and of a father, trapped between life and death, who must mend relationships and confront his own demons—before time seals all wounds for an eternity.
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Read an Excerpt
By TANIA L. RAMOS
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Tania L. Ramos
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePurplish-pink hues swirled together in the distant horizon. A strange, serene warmth lingered about the spring air, lending to the magnificence of the sunset over the deep, reddened valley. Seeing Shannon smiling and holding his hand was the best part of this day. Jack hadn't seen his wife smile in months—at least not a sincere smile. For some uncertain reason, she was radiant this day, a quality sorely missed for years. After the death of their daughter, Holly, Shannon had never been the same; seeing her in this spirited capacity was a welcomed and unexpected transformation.
This particular morning, Shannon woke up and put on the prettiest, liveliest dress Jack had ever seen. His heart instantly revitalized at the sight of life in her once lost eyes. He delighted in the way she swayed like an elegant ballerina across her stage. She brushed up against him and insisted they go someplace romantic and secluded. There was no way to resist her—not that he ever would.
That was how they'd found themselves at the restaurant at dawn, overlooking the peaceful Santa Clarita Valley below the rounded terrace. The image of the sky burned in his eyes because the valley appeared to be lit with fire while they enjoyed a delicious meal in the wide, open space. When dinner was over, they strolled as if nimbly walking on air until they reached the parking lot. She played with his fingers, flirting the way they had when they'd first met, each finger intertwining his like a seductive dance and causing a warm, nervous sweat to build on his palms.
The day was impeccable. Shannon was flawless. Jack was mesmerized.
Suddenly the echo of screeching tires drowned out the soft sound of romantic music playing in the distance. The brilliant, majestic sunset flashed an eerie burst of what Jack perceived as an explosion in the sky. He reached for Shannon and became caught in a momentary daze. In one instant she was holding his hand tight and he was rejoicing in her touch and life; in the next moment she was so far away. He felt the precise second her warm fingers slid out from his; whether it happened in slow motion or as quick as a tornado, he couldn't intelligently distinguish. All he saw next was hot, crimson fluid blanketing the cool black pavement, trickling like a spiteful red river until it pooled against her twisted, mangled body. Jack rushed to her, praying, but the speeding car had already taken the life from his angel. All that remained of her was a vague steam, emerging like a teasing spirit from her pale blue lips.
Jack kept vigil by her side, rocking her lifeless, limp body as his tears saturated her red-tinged blonde hair. The chatter and cries of the group that had encircled them grew louder, causing him to feel dizzy until the sound of approaching sirens blared above the clamor. The paramedics rushed to his side, but he wasn't ready to let go. He searched for any signs of life, of hope. At the sight of her lackluster gray eyes, he knew she had already left him, and without as much as a garbled whisper of a good-bye. Without her, he was left all alone in the world, save for a disgruntled son who wanted nothing to do with him. He held her close, kissing her swollen and bruised cheeks, thinking his kisses might save her like in a childhood fairy tale. He clutched her tight against his chest, unwilling to relinquish her to strangers and feeling her arms fall limp against his thighs. Finally the medics plucked her from his grip, quickly packaging her twisted body without caution, like wrapping a bloodstained Christmas gift in blue paper. They rushed her into the ambulance, leaving Jack distraught because he never had the chance to tell her good-bye while she was alive. Watching the ambulance disappear from sight carrying her broken remains, leaving him helpless to fix her, was the worst sensation he'd ever felt.
Jack sat on the cold pavement, drenched in his dead wife's still-warm blood. He wailed to the heavens, cursing a god he vowed never to believe in again. The god who had taken his daughter two years prior now took the only remaining love from his life. It was something he couldn't believe in anymore. That day Jack locked away his faith and hope in a box like some old, unneeded charm.
That fateful day haunted him for years; recently the dream of it had become a nightly recurrence. He woke up in cold sweats, trembling and oftentimes crying for a just moment more in the tattered dream where he could be with his love a second longer. On so many occasions, he wished for Alzheimer's to set in—anything that would relieve his stricken brain from the burden of that dark, sinister day. This morning he woke with a jolt, the dream feeling all too realistic. This time it was in 3-D and Technicolor, with even the metallic scent of fresh blood filling his senses and jarring his stomach.
After washing up, he slipped on beige trousers and a pale blue button-down shirt, the same as every other day. He took closer notice of the tremor in his left arm and made a quick phone call to Travis, his obstinate, wayward son, but like previous days the call went directly to voice mail. Jack rolled his eyes; so far it was an unremarkable day, all routine. Travis had been avoiding him for six days. It was nothing new. Travis had been sixteen when they'd lost Holly, and he seemed to take her loss with a vow of silence toward his father, as if Jack was solely responsible for her death. There was so much surrounding the passing of Holly and the death of Shannon that Jack had kept in confidence all these years. It was a way to preserve their unblemished memories in Travis's eyes, even if it left a black mark on Jack's integrity in the process, a risk he wholeheartedly took.
When Jack arrived at the office, there were already three patients waiting, each a young child accompanied by parents. They all stared at him with unabashed admiration on their smiles. He made a point to schedule kids on the same day with the rationale they would talk and be of comfort to each other, like a doctor's office–front lobby therapy session. Nobody complained, and the kids appeared to enjoy talking about their visits with each other, which warmed his soul.
By noon, Jack's receptionist had sought to hunt him down for a third time that day. Every time he turned around, she was there, lurking. She was bold and notorious for ensuring every t was crossed and every i was dotted. Today was different, though; he could see it in the way she hunted him down with vigilance. There were no paperwork corrections or order clarifications to contend with, that was for certain. The urgency was much more crucial than silly medical documentation jargon, and it was the reason he found every excuse to dodge the woman.
Everyone in the office knew he hadn't been feeling well the past few weeks; there were few secrets he kept from the staff. Besides, he walked a bit slower and felt more sluggish—not to mention the obvious increasing tremors to his hands. It wasn't a promising sign for a surgeon and was definitely something his staff quickly noticed: Dr. Silver was performing far less surgeries these days, giving more responsibility to his young protégé, Dr. Prince. It was only a matter of time before the staff would put the clues together, and Jack would finally have to come clean, not a day he looked forward to. But the day was vastly approaching, and by the way the receptionist glared each time he dodged her, he knew it was time to face the music.
The husky receptionist lunged between him and patient room number six. There was no way he would escape this time. She insisted and pushed around her weight, causing him to feel trapped and intimidated. The woman handed him two messages with the word "urgent" printed in bold red letters across the top. A nauseated burn instantly churned at his chest. He tried to remain composed and glanced at the notes; then he folded them and placed them haphazardly into a coat pocket. Before he had the opportunity to reach for the doorknob, the receptionist clutched at his moist hand, holding it long enough to feel the tremor. Jack sensed her once furious eyes shift to concern as they both glanced at his hand.
"She's on the phone," the woman revealed.
"Tell her I'll call back."
The woman gripped him tighter, unyielding. "She gave me strict instructions not to take no for an answer."
Jack stared at the woman through heated, narrowed eyes and inquired who it was she worked for. But the woman did nothing more than shift her lofty weight, making him uneasy. This was the reason he loved his staff: they loved him enough to be firm and defiant, even at times he was being childish and uncouth. "Fine," he conceded, pulling his hand away. "You can explain to the patients why we're running late." He sheepishly thrust a patient folder into her thick hands, hoping she didn't notice the crack in his voice.
"I always do," he heard her shout down the hall.
Dr. Jack Silver prided himself as being a world-renowned plastic surgeon, specializing in traumatic injury reconstruction; it was his calling. He had been one of the first surgeons to regularly use the skin from cadavers on burn victims. Most of his patients were young in age because they were the ones he sympathized with the greatest. Although he worked with people of every age, it was always the kids who stood out the most, who tugged at his heart, because they had the most to lose. The way he saw it, he wasn't saving lives, which was the work of ER doctors and nurses; his job was to allow these brutally disfigured people to go forward in life without scars staring back at them in the mirror. It was quality of life he offered, though naysayers would label it as vanity, suggesting people should learn to cope with these scars—something he never could understand.
The way he figured it, a six-year-old girl, set on fire by her drunken father because she spilled a glass of grape juice on a new carpet, didn't have to spend the rest of her life looking at a maimed stranger in every reflection. She deserved the chance at a normal life. That was what he strived to give people: the prospect of returning to normal after a loss. This was his gift, and he was great at it. The one thing he was never able to fix was the unseen damage he caused his own flesh and blood—a perception he dwelled upon every waking moment.
In the office, he sat behind a large desk cluttered with papers, pulled the urgent messages from his pocket, and stared at them with contempt. The red light flashing on the phone mocked him; he prayed it would simply stop, but knowing Dr. Amity, she would remain on hold for a week simply to make a point. The woman was inexorable at times, which only added to her tenacious charm. Right now, however, he wished she would just go away.
Dr. Christina Amity was an amazing woman and friend, one he felt blessed to know. She was the only woman, beside his deceased wife, in whom he had ever confided. She was young, brilliant, and beautiful—usually an intimidating combination in a woman, from his recollection. They had met several years prior when she'd done an internship at his practice, years after Shannon's death. The woman had been a hell-raiser right out of the gate; she always spoke her mind and had zero tolerance for nonsense. As such, she stole his heart within minutes, and he had been smitten since. Most of the internship was spent trying to convince her to specialize in plastics, but she stood her ground and said that her heart was in general medicine, where she said she could do the most benefit. It was too bad, because she had an innate gift in surgery.
The red light on the phone didn't stop blinking. With a deep, drawn-out breath, he lifted the receiver and prepared for the worst. "Really?" He tried to sound riled at her relentless harassment.
"You weren't returning my calls," she countered, sounding equally annoyed.
"I do have a practice to run."
"And you think I'm sitting over here playing video games, do you?" she asked. "I wouldn't pester you if it wasn't important."
Jack slunk into the chair, buried his head into trembling hands, and prayed his heart wouldn't give out. "I know," he said. "So what's the great doctor's verdict? Vitamins? Rest? Vacation? Full frontal lobotomy?" The phone was suspiciously silent at his sardonic arrogance. "That bad, huh?"
"Worse." Her voice held a certain hesitation and an ache that caused him to hold his breath. "You have to come in, Jack."
"Just tell me," he begged, not wanting to drag out the inevitable.
"Not over the phone."
Her voice raised in pitch. He could tell she was holding back tears, trying to remain professional and stern. "Don't do this to me," she said. There was silence between the two before she insisted that he go into her office.
"When?" he moaned, apprehensive.
"I have patients, Chris—"
"Now!" she shouted so boisterously it caused him to sit up straight. "Reschedule, Jack. This is your life." She trailed off before hanging up, giving him no room to argue.
As he left the office, Jack suddenly had a profound understanding of the term "dead man walking." Every eye was on him as he put on his coat and instructed the staff to reschedule the rest of the day's patients. When he looked back at the broad receptionist, she collapsed into a chair and mustered a valiant smile. He couldn't help but wonder how long she could try to appear brave. He knew his staff considered themselves a family, and they were quite keen to know when something was amiss. He shot a quick, flawed smile and then left his family behind.
"Come right in," the receptionist at Dr. Amity's office said. She appeared too antsy for Jack's comfort as she opened a side door, and her eyes never met his as she showed him into the office. It was the same look, or lack thereof, that Jack had when presenting bad news to patients.
Jack smiled as he noticed a familiar picture sitting on Chris's desk: he was standing beside her as she wore a black cap and gown on her graduation day from med school. It was a day he remembered vividly and fondly. There weren't many memories from the past five years that didn't have her in it, and each had a way of inviting a pure smile to his weary face. She had a way of revamping his soul with her very presence.
"Thank you for coming in," Chris said as she shut the door.
"I didn't realize I had a choice in the matter," he tried to joke, knowing it wasn't going over well.
Chris pulled up a chair beside him. The redness and swelling to her eyes was evident; he knew she had been crying, which caused a sinking void in his twisting gut. But it was her soft hand upon his that nearly evoked his own spring of tears that had remained pent up for so many years. "Why didn't you tell me sooner?" she asked, finally looking him in the eyes.
Jack dropped his head. "I dismissed it as age, fatigue, sleep deprivation. I don't know. I just found excuses."
"You're a doctor," she said. "You knew the signs."
"Some say doctors make the worst patients. Is it Parkinson's?"
Chris shook her head. He could see her working to remain strong and focused. "I hoped for that. Hell, I prayed for it." She paused long enough to cause Jack to break eye contact and look downward. "I consulted two other doctors and a specialist. We all came to the same conclusion. The tests you took confirmed it—"
"Just tell me," he interrupted, weary of the song and dance.
She clasped his hands and revealed the cold, harsh truth. "Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis," she blurted, her ice-blue eyes instantly turning red and glassed. He gave her a blank stare, unknowing and paralyzed. "You have Lou Gehrig's disease," she explained. "If you would have come sooner—"
"Are you sure?" he interjected, unsure he had heard correctly.
"I'm so sorry, Jack," she said with the same high pitch he'd heard over the phone. "There are clinical trials and medications ..."
Jack vehemently shook his head, causing her to stop speaking and gawk with a gaping mouth. Buying time was not an option—he'd waited too long, had run down the hourglass. If it was indeed Lou Gehrig's, the point of recovery or stalling the disease had already slipped away. The only thing left to look forward to was death and the possibility of being reunited with Shannon and Holly ... if there was indeed an afterlife, an uncertainty he was about to face.
"Won't you even try?" she asked.
Jack smiled, feeling surprisingly at peace with the morbid news. "I love you, Chris," he said with a tender kiss to her forehead. The warmth of her skin was reminding and full of life. "I am so lucky to have met you."
"I'm so lucky to have met you," she said as a single tear finally managed to escape her eye. "Don't give up." Her words were wasted on deaf ears. Jack had given up years before the diagnosis; this was merely a strongly desired inevitability come to pass.
Excerpted from Be Still by TANIA L. RAMOS Copyright © 2012 by Tania L. Ramos. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
There is much to be said about Tania Ramos' novel, "Be Still." It is a well thought out and well planned novel that actually weaves two interconnecting stories into one. The book revolves around Jack Silver. A father, haunted by the memory of his wife who died somewhat mysteriously many years ago and his son Travis, who has held a long-time grudge against his father, blaming him for his mother's death. Add in the cute Dr. Chris Amity who has been like a daughter to Jack though has always been seen by Travis as somewhat of a leach to his father. However, it will be Travis and Chris who will need to form a bond when tragedy strikes and understand the truths that have been hidden for so long. Over the course of the novel, the author tells a story that blends a mix of inspiration, the afterlife and romance and turns into a convincing tale of redemption. While I did feel that the storyline around Jack became a little tedious and drawn out at times the story surrounding Travis and Chris kept me going on to the end which, while I won't give it away, was a perfect little touch that made me smile. "Be Still" is part medical drama, part romance novel with a hint of "What Dreams May Come." While this genre is not my norm, I did enjoy this very much and recommend it highly.
I know the history of this author and all that was wearing on her life when she wrote this book. Let me tell you, to be able to write a book like this during that time of her life can only be explained by saying, "Wow." I knew she had talent, but this book is a testament to how she was able to "Be Still," and move passed the trials in her life and turn a time of darkness into something positive. I know this book fiction but it book stirred my emotions and I saw the author in every scene that dripped with sarcasm, but I felt her pain when Travis learned the truth. I lost a family member I wasn't too fond of, but this book made me evaluate that. Thank you to Tania who made me think, who made me close my eyes as Travis learned to do, to drown out the noise and Be Still. This book came at a difficult time in my life, but I'm better for it and have recommended it to family and friends. I knew you had it in you, Tania, and you know how opinionated I am about my books. :-) This book has inspired me. I also read her first book, but my opinion is that this one is much better. looking forward to the next
I like this book! It's worth reading every single word, and the story feels so real. It's really amazing how the characters go through so much that it makes you wonder if they can be still.
Let me start by saying that, despite the genre of this book being the polar opposite of what I usually read, I really enjoyed Be Still. The plot was engaging and well thought out, the characters relatable and believable. It’s a tragic story that’s at the same time uplifting, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes the romance/drama genre. I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t the hugest fan of Jack Silver. He basically gives up on living after his wife dies, withdrawing from the world and from his son, all of which really irked me. I have a hard time connecting with parent characters who emotionally abandon their children. At the same time, I totally understand why he did what he did because his plot arc was beautifully written, so even though I didn’t really like the character, Tania still got me to sympathize with him. On the other hand, I loved Travis and Christina. Their romance is sweet, and realistic, and flawed, because when does love ever go smoothly? I actually found myself caring more about Jack because I was seeing him through Travis and Christina’s eyes, and it was bittersweet because their shared grief over his impending death is one of the things that brings them together. I quite enjoyed Tania’s writing style. It flowed nicely, and it was very easy for me to lose myself in the story. One criticism I would make is that the description sometimes got a little flowery, but for all I know that’s the norm for this genre of writing. It certainly didn’t detract from the story, it just made me pause and think, “Goodness, that’s a lot of adverbs”. All in all, a wonderful read, and one that I would definitely recommend!
I was very pleasantly suprised at the difference in the work from her 1st book to this one. Both are excellent stories but this one was so much more deep. The visual discriptions were outstanding and you felt as if you were there... To feel, see and smell every word as it lept from the pages. I look forward to her next book. Way to go Tania, you are blessed.
I finally got the book Be Still and I can honestly say that that its a damn good book. I fancy myself a reader and I can honestly say this book held me. I read it non-stop in less than a day. One of the and I mean few books that had me literally laughing out loud, unable to hold back tears, get frustrated and so on in one book. It was good, good, GOOD!!! I almost didnt want to give it up and pass it on to the next person. That is a book to be proud of and I hope she is. I seriously can't wait for her next book.
Can't put this book down. Its a page turner.