I read this book in one sitting. It was written (and drawn) with such raw emotion, that when it got to be too much I had to lie to myself and say it was fiction. I’m sure the family wishes it were. This is the story of Harvey Stahl, his wife Marissa Moss, and their three sons. And Harvey’s untimely battle with ALS.
Nothing about this book is easy, or fun, but it’s a story worth telling. How do you deal when your best friend/partner/spouse is diagnosed with a life altering disease? How do you tell your children, family and friends? There is no simple way. It’s an ugly process, and even with it being rare, it’s one that too many people face.
What Moss is able to convey through her art and words, within the graphic novel, are the absolute and real emotions she and her family went through with Harvey’s diagnosis. Allowing herself to be open with the world, Moss poured out her soul into Last Things. She doesn’t make herself out to be a saint, and she doesn’t put a band-aid over her husbands short-comings, instead Moss has woven together pictures and words full of love and loss. From the day of the diagnosis until days after Harvey’s passing, Moss takes us through times of anger and resentment and then acceptance and healing. This is not a glossed over pamphlet from the hospital containing words of encouragement, this is a true story and sometimes the truth isn’t always pretty.
In between the days of ALS, Moss talks of her family’s past. The beautiful life they had together, traveling, learning and the closeness they share. It’s those moments where the effects of the disease really take hold. You see how a loving family on top of the world can come crashing down like a building on fire. And later, how they pick up the remains and help one another cope and grow. This is where love comes in.
A vivid telling of living and breathing a non-treatable disease, this book contains no secrets, no promises of survival, instead there is a story of family and how people deal with adversity as a unit and also individually.
I encourage you to read this book, if only to see a glimpse of what others go through, and if you or someone you know is experiencing a life altering disease such as ALS, perhaps this book will show that you are not alone.