The Heart's Gift
by Jodi Davis


Beaver Pond Press, 2003. ISBN 1592980066.
Reviewed by Lee Ambrose
Posted on 09/18/2003

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Relationships; Nonfiction: Body Language

What begins as an expectant mother's journal for her unborn baby, ends as a series of letters mapping the emotional journey of one woman through unimaginable challenges, heartbreaking losses, and realization of the potential within herself. When Jodi Davis began writing her journal, she did so with the innocence and hopeful anticipation of many an expectant mother. By the final pages of her book, we come to know Jodi as an extraordinary woman who has travelled through some of the most difficult challenges any woman could be asked to confront.

The grace with which the author approaches these challenges is sure to become an inspiration to the women who read The Heart's Gift. Through such grace, Jodi has chosen to share her intensely personal and often painful journey with others so they might realize the one resounding truth of this book: "When I needed someone to lean on, I discovered that in the rawest, most excruciating context of life, it is I who would have to be there for me in the end."

Filled with the hopes and dreams of a dedicated wife and mother, the early pages resonate with a familiar thread—the desire to give birth to a healthy child, to add a measure of fullness to the family unit, and to be the best mother and wife one can be.

Jodi comes to the realization that she has been gifted with a very special child whose needs are intense, and that their time together will be short-lived. Her journal entries and letters take on the emotional roller-coaster that is life with a child in special care nurseries, in and out of specialists' offices, and the "watchful waiting" integral to caring for a critically ill baby. Trying to juggle Jill's illness with the needs of those of the rest of the family, she never loses sight of the impact of her daughter's illness on each individual member of her household.

When the inevitable happens, and Jill's brief life has ended, Jodi is faced with the enormous impact of such a wee one on the entire family unit. She faces even more broken dreams, shattered hopes and heart-wrenching life events—the realities of divorce, a suicide attempt by her son, the challenges of returning to school to pursue an MBA, and work as both a volunteer and a paid employee in the hospital where she and Jill spent much of the infant's life. Eventually, Jodi's struggles strengthen her ability to see that she alone possesses the power to turn such heartaches into valuable lessons, stepping stones to the next phase of her life.

The Heart's Gift began as Jill's story. In the end, it is so much more than that. It is Jodi's story of renewal and self-realization, and it is her gift to women everywhere.

A sales and marketing executive for a Fortune 500 company, Jodi also is, perhaps more importantly, a writer and motivational speaker. She serves on the board of directors of the Minneapolis/St.Paul Children's Hospitals and Clinics Foundation and the advisory board for the Jill Davis Intensive Care Nursing Fund, which sponsors annual educational seminars in pediatric cardiac intensive care. You can visit her website.

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