This Lovely Life

Filed Under (Critical Disability Studies, Writing) by Estee on 24-11-2009


There are some things that silence me for a few moments. The death of a child, the poignant line. Vicki Forman’s This Lovely Life: A Memoir of Premature Motherhood does both. About the premature birth of her twins, the death of one child and the survival of her son with multiple disabilities, Vicki must navigate life’s toughest challenges. Just the first paragraph alone will be enough to make you gasp, sit silent and want to read the rest of her book:

I learned about grief during this time. I learned that no matter the true temperature, grief made the air crisp and cold; that it caused me to drive slowly, carefully; there was very little I could eat. I learned that I didn’t notice things until they flew out at me and that most stories and books and news articles were unreadable, being accounts not of the events themselves, but of me. Of what I had lost and would never have again, of what I had once allowed myself to want, the things I used to love. Of small consolations no longer available. I learned that my heart could stop and start a dozen times a day and that my throat felt so sore and tight I often had to swallow air simply in order to breathe. The world receded; everything took place in slow motion and was viewed as if down the wrong end of a very long telescope. So much was unfamiliar that if I was asked my name, I had to think for long moments. ‘Grief is a visceral process of disengagement,’ a friend said. In my grief, old versions of disembodiment became a cruel joke. You thought that was bad, not being able to walk into a roomful of strangers without disassociating or turning remote and distant? That was nothing. Try this. Try heart-stopping, immobilizing grief.” — Vicki Forman, This Lovely Life, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishers, 2009.

Tom Bissell, who writes the forward describes Vicki’s journey well: “She does not claim she is always correct; she sometimes expresses anger at certain doctors, and she occasionally behaves in ways that some readers may find appalling. But just as this is not a depressing book, it is also not an angry book. It is a book filled with love and wonder — enriched by the kind of grief that those of us who are not parents cannot imagine and those of us who are will not want to.”

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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (, and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.