Readers of this blog know that Ana Stenzel passed away September 2013 and has been living on in our hearts. But her passing is remembered with the release of the second edition of the book she wrote together with her twin Isa, The Power of Two. This edition contains a 50 page afterword written shortly before she died of colon cancer. We celebrated the launch last night in Palo Alto with the appreciation that the beauty of a book is that it lives on and the stories in it keep delivering the message of the writers.
This is the publisher's account of the book:
Born in 1972 in California to Japanese and German immigrant parents, Ana and Isa are identical twins who recount their lifelong struggle to pursue normal lives with cystic fibrosis while grappling with the realization that they will die young. This coming-of-age story reveals their tumultuous battle against their bodies, their desire for independent identities and their gradual acceptance of being loveable despite being physically different. In the end, the twins discover that their deep-seated dependence on each other has allowed them to survive long enough to reap the benefits of miraculous lung transplants. In the “Power of Two,” they share a life shaped by cultural tradition, dedication from a family that would not give up, and inspiration from others who have shared in the plight of having cystic fibrosis. This memoir is rich in life lessons, depth and appreciation.
Here is sneak preview of a piece written by Ana in the Afterword.
By living alongside death for so long, I have truly lived. By being aware of limited time, I have not wasted any time, and my life has been better for it. Too bad it has taken illness to realize this. What does every human being strive for? To me, everyone wishes to feel love and connection, to be part of something great, to make an impact, to be inspired, and to leave the world with a sense of peace and satisfaction. Fortunately, thanks to great motivation and the backdrop for opportunity, all those things have landed in my lap. Our film and both have made an impact, exceptional people and circle me, and I have felt the love of God, of the spouse, of my young nieces, and even my new basset mix puppy, Timon. I have seen more stunning scenery to my travels than I ever dreamed of, and I felt the highest of highs and lowest of lows in human emotions. There are no regrets. . .
Isa, who has become a specialist in grief through experience and study explained that grief is mitigated by gratitude; that we can bear the greatest losses by feeling gratefulness for what we had together. Hatsuko, the mother of the twins, told me that people often comfort her empathetically by saying that it must be so hard to lose a daughter at such a young age. But she tells them that her view is different because since she was three days old Ana's life was in jeopardy. She survived life sustaining surgery and kept on surviving one life threatening challenge after another. So as hard as such a loss is to bear, Hatusko, Isa, and others who loved Ana are comforted by an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the 41 years that Ana lived so fully on this earth.
Our evening together ended with a reading of Hunter Thompson's description of life that Ana loved and seemed to fit hers so well.
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, Wow what a ride!"