Memoir is my favorite book genre, and Joe Sikorra’s Defying Gravity did not disappoint. As a parent of a daughter with a rare disease, there were many aspects of Defying Gravity that were both a comfort and encouragement to me. First, as Sikorra shared his and his wife’s journey with their sons, John and Ben, I thought so often of our journey with Sarah and how mysterious her genetic condition can be — new medical issues cropping up all the time. Second, Sikorra had very beautiful and deep insights into the mystery of suffering and how beautiful an imperfect life can be.
Despite the adventurous start to the Sikorra’s marriage, they handled each new layer of the boys’ diagnosis with grace and trust. That is not to say, however, there were no tears or frustrations. It’s just that they adjusted their dreams and plans to suit their sons’ care, especially John.
Throughout the book, Sikorra wrote about several once-in-a-lifetime spiritual opportunities that happened upon their family: a trip to Lourdes, France; a chance to receive rose petals with miraculous images appearing on them, and so on. There were people in their community who were inspired by the Sikorra family and who, in turn, felt compelled to give something back to them that might be an encouragement, too.
The times when Sikorra wrote about celebrating life were, by far, the most uplifting to me. I couldn’t help but imagine my own life, which I often consider onerous. Sikorra’s perspective — not fluffy and rose-colored, but certainly resilient and hopeful — really shifted my own consideration of how I view Sarah’s condition and the life we’ve been given.
Being a caregiver is incredibly challenging, and Sikorra and his wife know this all too well. But it is also an opportunity, as he posits in Defying Gravity, for us to become more than we thought we could be — for us to turn to God in total abandonment and trust. We are changed from living a life of luxury and selfish pursuits to living for others out of sacrificial love. That’s what the Sikorra boys radiated — joy and love — to all who knew them.
I found Sikorra to be authentic, honest, and faith-filled. Defying Gravity is a book that is sure to accompany the reader through difficult and dark situations, especially if s/he is also a caregiver for a child with special needs. The gift and beauty of our children shines through in Sikorra’s appreciation for life, even in the midst of tragedy and sorrow. By sharing his boys with us through his book, we are better able to understand God’s infinite plan for every human life and also increase gratitude for the life we have, too, however broken it may be.
Defying Gravity is available from Ignatius Press.
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Copyright 2018 Jeannie Ewing