Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour for I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice. It’s an exceptionally private insight into the soul, life and emotions of the author. It truly is a remarkable read.
About the Author
Ruth Fitzmaurice was born in 1976 and grew up in Co. Louth, Ireland. She was a radio researcher and producer when she married film director and writer, Simon, in 2004 and had three children. In 2008, Simon was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and given three years to live. Simon went into respiratory failure in 2010 and was accidentally placed on a ventilator during an emergency procedure. He decided, against medical advice, to keep the ventilator; Ruth and Simon went on to have twins in 2012.
In January 2016, Ruth wrote her first piece for the Irish Times about family life and a new passion, sea swimming. She lives in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, with her five children Jack, Raife, Arden, Sadie, Hunter, a dog and a cat. Simon passed away in October 2017.
About the book
Ruth Fitzmaurice has two extraordinary families.
She has her husband Simon, a filmmaker with advanced Motor Neurone Disease who can only communicate with his eyes via a computer. Together they have five children under the age of 10, as well as Pappy, a cantankerous Basset Hound. They are kept afloat by relentless army of nurses and carers that flows through their house in Greystones, on the East Coast of Ireland.
And then there is Ruth’s other family – her Tribe of amazing women. Amidst the chaos and the pain that rules their lives, The Tragic Wives Swimming Club congregate together – in summer and winter, on golden afternoons and by the light of the moon – on the sea steps at Women’s Cove. Day after day, they throw themselves into the freezing Irish sea. In that moment, they are free. Later, they will share a thermos of tea, teeth chattering, hands shaking, ready to take on the world once more.
An invocation to all of us to love as hard as we can, and live even harder, I Found My Tribe is an urgent and uplifting letter to a husband, family, friends, the natural world and the brightness of life.
I knew this would be very personal and emotional, but I don’t think I was expecting nor prepared for how honest the author would be about her life, her feelings and the state of her soul. Even right down to her brutal honesty about being overwhelmed and having suicidal thoughts. The only thing stopping her from swimming out and never coming back being the children. Five anchors in a seemingly never-ending storm.
I thought it was eye-opening how she speaks about the 24/7 medical care and attention Simon needed, well actually let me be more specific, about the intrusion into her life. I don’t think people who aren’t in that kind of situation, can imagine how difficult it is to deal with the constant presence of strangers in the house. I in no way want to minimise the support the nurses and carers give to the patient and their families, but it must be extremely hard to have no privacy at all. Having to deal with the strange smells, habits and personalities of strangers in a place where a person can usually find solace and solitude.
Perhaps that is why Ruth is drawn to the sea. The enormous space, the feeling of being completely alone, and possibly the instinctual draw to the feeling of freedom, peace and tranquillity the water gives her.
I do believe her frank admissions, even if they may be perceived as odd, such as talking to a tree for instance, will help others in similar situations. There are probably plenty of us who speak out loud to the world, not necessarily because they think some higher power is listening, but perhaps in an attempt to hear our own thoughts. It makes them more solid, more tangible and less scary.
Finding her tribe becomes that one small thing that keeps her motor running. Getting in the water, no matter what day or season makes the situation at home seem easier to deal with. If you can conquer Goliath every day then everything else is just peanuts, right?
It’s an exceptionally private insight into the soul, life and emotions of the author. What I will take from it is her strength and her unabashed way of cutting a window into her chest so everyone can see the scars on her heart and her soul full of ragged holes.
I am glad she found her tribe. Some people spend a lifetime searching for connections like that and come up empty-handed. I hope her family, her tribe and the sea in her cove help to heal her wounds and soften the memories.
It’s a beautiful and in equal measures a tragic story. I just want to thank Ruth for sharing it with her readers.
Publisher: Vintage, pub date Paperback 28 June 2018