It’s rare that I finish a book, but this one was different. This one tugs at the heartstrings…more than any other book ever has with me.
Heather McManamy wrote Cards for Brianna: A Lifetime of Lessons and Love from a Dying Mother to Her Daughter in just forty-nine days. On the fiftieth day, hours after she turned in the manuscript to her publisher, she passed away with her husband by her side.
After being diagnosed in her early thirties with terminal breast cancer, she felt like her life was crumbling. Her “normal” vanished — and was replaced with multiple surgeries and dozens of chemo treatments that could briefly extend her life, but would not prevent her inevitable death. With an effervescent spirit and a new perspective, Heather started to live each day as if it were her last. She learned to soak in the moment, appreciate the beauty around her, and celebrate her blessings. She also pondered her daughter’s future journey without her mother—and gracefully prepared for it.
Heather began to write greeting cards to Brianna. Cards for her first day of school, her sixteenth birthday, her wedding day. Cards for when things were going right and when they were going wrong. Cards for when Brianna would need her mother — whether in five years or fifty years.
The 36-year-old Wisconsin mother, who died from terminal cancer on Dec. 15, 2015, will live on in her memoir Cards for Brianna. The book is a celebration of a mother’s love for her daughter, as well as her unwillingness to let death stand in the way of their relationship. Her humorous voice brings readers inside the reality of a life being cut short too soon, and how her family found a way to live to the fullest in the short time they had together.
The author shares her story with pure honesty and humility and writes with a perspective that lets the reader feel they are with her during her journey. She will bring you to tears and have you laughing all in one sentence!
Heather has an infectious likability that leaves you wishing you were her real-life friend and saddened that she is no longer in this world. If my life was suddenly changed with a similar diagnosis, I would 100% adopt the “cards for Brianna” idea for my children and loved ones. And while the cards and messages to her daughter are both touching and heartfelt, the book is about so much more.
One of the final messages in her book reads: “…Give someone an unexpected hug. Go check out the sunset. Call or text someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Make peace with people. Live. Laugh. Love. A lot. …”
Thank you, Heather, for sharing your story and inviting us into your life, and untimely death.
May you rest in peace. And, God Bless your little girl.
* Hardcover: approx. $12.50 on Amazon. http://amzn.to/1QJ50j9