by Jody Gelb
Review by Maria Duarte
She May Be Lying Down but She May Be Very Happy by Jody Gelb is a micro-memoir about how a mother processes the fact that death is inevitable for the child she birthed with cerebral palsy but also about how events in one’s life help develop the self into what they are meant to be. This book is not about death, but instead it is about a life lived, however difficult and painful.
This micro-memoir tells the story of Jody and her husband, Marek, and the struggles a family must go through with a disabled child, and at the same time, we experience the growth of Jody as a mother and as a person. Lueza, their first daughter, was born with cerebral palsy, and at the beginning, everything seems like a disaster, but as time goes by, Jody and Marek not only learn how to attend Lueza’s needs but also to enjoy being her parents. The vivid images, the honesty transmitted with each admittance of error and of effort make this micro-memoir very candid and real about what a life with a disabled child can look like.
The book engages the reader by peeling, like an onion, Jody’s humanness not only as a mother but as a person that still dreams of being an actress. It reminds us that mothers are individuals as well. As a society we put mothers’ needs in the back burner, since being a mother must be the number one priority. But as Jody reminds us, mothers were individuals before becoming mothers. It is important to remember that if a mother cannot keep their sanity, then how will she take care of their children?
This book ultimately is not about the loss of Lueza but of the beautiful life they created while Lueza lived. It is about the life they experience with her, and most importantly about the moments they shared, since they will never come back.
Maria Duarte is a poet and writer who received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside—Palm Desert. She has published poems in Verdad Magazine from Long Beach City College and in the anthology The Good Grief Journal: A Journey Toward Healing. She is currently the poetry editor for Kelp Journal.