The Beauty of my Shadow
By: S.D. Michael
In the blink of an eye, a person’s entire existence can change forever. At eighteen, Samantha Michael learned this in the most challenging way imaginable, when she was in a severe car crash at the hands of an impaired driver. After being rescued from the accident, Samantha was comatose and barely alive. Later, as she emerged from her coma, she would come to discover that terrifying moment was not the end but the beginning—the beginning of a lifetime of challenges and changes, tribulations and triumphs. With wisdom, grace and humour, Samantha recounts the aftermath of her injury and her personal, medical and emotional struggles to win back the happiness which was taken from her. She describes the impact on her family and friends, the lasting physical trauma with which she had to struggle, the pain of deferred dreams and the joy of eventually reclaiming her life and self, piece by piece, day by day. The Beauty of my Shadow will pluck a range of emotional chords as the reader experiences the euphoria, hope, doubt, fear, love and other feelings Samantha herself lived through in the days since her life was forever altered. Written candidly and from the heart, Samantha’s story gives hope to those who have suffered similar trauma, as well as those who are simply wrestling with the ordinary challenges of daily life. Her memoir serves as a powerful reminder of the strength and versatility of the human spirit—that while adversity derails our path in life, undefeatable perseverance often helps us discover another route to take.
Samantha Michael’s struggle to heal after her car accident in 1991 continues after she wakes from her coma, past the day she exits rehab, and even further than the day she decides to start her own non-profit, An Aid to Help Foundation. Reading Samantha’s constant struggle with day to day life has been a humbling experience. Situations and experiences I feel may be nothing, can be larger obstacles for her. She is dealing with memory loss, personality changes, physical scars, emotional pain, and a minimized threshold for stress all while surrounded by the people who are expecting the person she was to fall right back into her old life. I can’t begin to imagine that struggle. To her credit, she comes out embracing the person she is today and not focusing on the person she was. This could not have been easy to do. Her attitude allows her to find ways to adjust and cope with her new life.
The Beauty of My Shadow is designed to be a book to bring awareness, understanding, and healing to those who are suffering from head injuries or trauma. For me, it was an amazing story of the strength and a long process of learning or relearning emotional intelligence. Throughout her story we watch as she tackles her physical problems head on, but when confronted with emotional pain she forces it away. While no one will experience the same pain Samantha went through to heal, she has an innate ability to write so the reader experiences each emotional step in her journey. Periodically, the book presented chapters that held what only can be described as random babbling, but those chapters were few and far between and left her main objective intact. At times the memoir was frustrating to read, at others it seemed tedious, but more often I was humbled by the strength and will of a young woman to face her uncertain future and ability to build herself a therapeutic way to reclaim her life.