When I began reading the Nie Nie Dialogues it was shortly after her accident. I had heard about it through another blogger who asked for prayers and it drew me to her page. At that time, she was still in a coma and it still seemed very touch and go. I devoured her older entries, quickly getting to know this woman, and when updates would come through about her condition I would rejoice. I feel that I have a connection to her, although she does not know who I am, due to reading of her life since it changed so dramatically. I have always been filled with a sense of complete awe for her. For what she's gone through, I don't think I would have ever been able to handle it. Some people are made to deal with these type of horrible things and I don't think I'm one of them.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Simply put: I knew of the author of this book and her tale long before Heaven is Here was published. When it was, I wanted to buy it to support her and her family (even if my purchase was only a small contribution) and to read more details into her life. Stephanie Nielson, the author of this book and the Nie Nie Dialogues, was in a plane crash along with her husband and their friend. She was burnt severely and through her blog she would share bits and pieces of how she recovered. This book gives more detail to that recovery process and all the behind the scenes that you may not have known about from her blog or was only giving tidbits of.
It is a spiritual book of sorts as religion is something important to Stephanie. I am spiritual but no longer identify myself as tied to any specific religion. I do not pray and I do not attend church. Typically I shy away from religious books because many times I feel as if the author is preaching to me or condemning me for my lack of religion. It was a small concern when I ordered Stephanie's book but I didn't care. Even if she preached I was still going to read this book! What I found upon reading this book wasn't any preaching. God and her religious beliefs obviously fill Stephanie's life and are a great part to her recovery and that is wonderful. It was good to read such a positive experience with religion and I didn't feel as if I was talked down to at all.
The book is brought together in three parts: before, during, and after. Prior to the accident Stephanie's life read as a fairy tale. Much of it was almost too hard to believe but I feel it set up a good base for what was to come and the weight placed on the relationships you had learned about in the first section. The middle section - the accident and recovery - was quite possibly the hardest section for me to get through. My heart ached as I read it and I could only keep thinking, "I could never do this, I could never make it through such an experience, this woman is so strong." I've seen plenty of medical shows and read articles about so and so having some horrible thing happen to them but it's rare to see what happens with the patient themselves. It's rare to see what is going on in their minds. The terror, the worry, the depression is all there and yet I still couldn't fathom that experience.
The final portion of the book is Stephanie's initial recovery into her original role as wife and mother. It's tough to read but through out much of it I would recall things she had mentioned on her blog: the first time she showed a picture of just her eyes after the accident and the year after mark which included a successful hike.
The book isn't the most awesome thing I've ever read. It isn't Dickens or Shakespeare. But the point of it is to tell her story and to show how she recovered physically, emotionally and spiritually. I think she got that point across with flying colors - enough to take my breath away at different points and cause me to reflect a lot about my own life. As someone who is regularly trying to improve her life for the better, to have a more positive outlook and be less focused on my flaws, reading this book was helpful and empowering. I feel that her blog has changed somewhat within the past year to become more of a promotional outlet rather than tales of her life as a mother and wife which I find disappointing. I'm hoping her blog will swing back to what it was when I fell in love with it. But the fact still remains that this woman is lovely, inspiring, and certainly worth knowing about. Her courage gives me courage to face the much more meaningless things in my life than what she has had to face. Whether you are spiritual or not (so long as you accept other people are spiritual) this is a wonderful read and should be on your bookshelf as soon as possible.