I’m in supercold New York City today, working on the publicity campaign for The Little Way of Ruthie Leming. It’s a quick trip — headed back tomorrow, I hope before the snow. This morning I was interviewed at Grand Central Publishing, my publisher’s, for promotional purposes (see above), and then we left for a luncheon with editors (mostly magazine) and TV producers. This was the first time I’ve been able to address a sizable group about Ruthie and her story. I think it went well. At one point, I welled up and nearly lost my composure, but it’s good, I think, to get practice talking about my sister and this story, if only to make sure that in the future, I can hold it together in interviews.
It was deeply gratifying to see how interested so many of these journalists were in the book. My editor and I have noticed among many early readers of the book, a very similar reaction: emotional intensity, followed by an almost compulsive desire to talk about their own history. Those who left home for the big city want to talk about that. Those who had difficult relationships with siblings focus on that point. And so on. What’s clear to me at this stage is that Little Way touches some very deep emotional places in its readers.
I kept thinking today about how Ruthie always insisted, throughout the 19 months she lived with cancer, that God was going to bring good out of it if we got out of His way. I could be wrong about this, but I think that seeing how these top journalists today reacted to Ruthie’s story was the start of that coming true. I told them about the children whose life Ruthie had changed, simply by being present for them in the classroom, and loving them, and nurturing them. If these journalists are moved by the story, and in their turn spread the word, then Ruthie Leming in death will end up changing far more lives for the better than she was able to in life.
I’m just the witness, the guy who talked to the other witnesses and wrote it all down. She did this. She’s still doing it. In fact, she’s just getting started.
One more thing. As you’ll see when you read the book, Ruthie loved synchronicities, and had an extraordinary one tied in with Mike’s return from Iraq. I don’t know if this counts as a synchronicity, but here’s what happened today. I was at one particular table of journalists, talking about the book, when a writer for a major New York magazine asked, “Wait, what’s the name of the town?”
“St. Francisville,” I said. “Do you know it? It’s really small — 1,700 people or so.”
“Oh my God, my brother was adopted from there,” she said. “I’ve been there!”
What are the odds?