Almost seven years ago, I went through a traumatic experience. The first thing I did, as soon as my oldest and I were safe, was begin to reach out to my network of friends on the phone. I started calling people, because I felt that I could derive strength from my friends, and because I’d become so…cut off from everyone. And, I quickly found out that my friends most definitely were a source of strength for me. It felt good to have people to check in with, to lean on. Amy Silverstein similarly reached out when she was in need of support. She writes about her support network in her memoir, My Glory Was I Had Such Friends.
Amy learned that her donor heart was on its way to failing her, and she needed an immediate heart transplant in order to continue living. When she learned this, nine of her friends put everything on hold to go and be with her and support her – organizing the support so that they could all power through as advocates for Amy.
Going through a life-threatening situation is harrowing (needless to say). Going through such a situation while accompanied by those who love you and advocate for you and stand by you – so that you always have someone close by to support you – can give you a strength you didn’t know you had. This book is a testimony to the power of friendship and the special bonds of love between friends.
• Hardcover: 352 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (June 27, 2017)
In this moving memoir about the power of friendship and the resilience of the human spirit, Amy Silverstein tells the story of the extraordinary group of women who supported her as she waited on the precipice for a life-saving heart transplant.
Nearly twenty-six years after receiving her first heart transplant, Amy Silverstein’s donor heart plummeted into failure. If she wanted to live, she had to take on the grueling quest for a new heart—immediately.
A shot at survival meant uprooting her life and moving across the country to California. When her friends heard of her plans, there was only one reaction: “I’m there.” Nine remarkable women—Joy, Jill, Leja, Jody, Lauren, Robin, Valerie, Ann, and Jane—put demanding jobs and pressing family obligations on hold to fly across the country and be by Amy’s side. Creating a calendar spreadsheet, the women—some of them strangers to one another—passed the baton of friendship, one to the next, and headed straight and strong into the battle to help save Amy’s life.
Empowered by the kind of empathy that can only grow with age, these women, each knowing Amy from different stages of her life, banded together to provide her with something that medicine alone could not. Sleeping on a cot beside her bed, they rubbed her back and feet when the pain was unbearable, adorned her room with death-distracting decorations, and engaged in their “best talks ever.” They saw the true measure of their friend’s strength, and they each responded in kind.
My Glory Was I Had Such Friends is a tribute to these women and the intense hours they spent together—hours of heightened emotion and self-awareness, where everything was laid bare. Candid and heartrending, this once-in-a-lifetime story of connection and empathy is a powerful reminder of the ultimate importance of “showing up” for those we love.
About Amy Silverstein
Amy Silverstein is the author of Sick Girl, which won a “Books for a Better Life Award” and was a finalist for the Border’s Original Voices Award. She earned her Juris Doctor at New York University School of Law, has served on the Board of the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), and is an active speaker and writer on women’s health issues and patient advocacy. She lives in New York.