One Saturday I was at the library alone, just wandering and looking. I happened upon a book titled Saving Charlotte: A Mother and the Power of Intuition by Pia de Jong. Opening it, I stood in the aisle reading for a long time, captivated. I checked it out and devoured it over the next week.
Saving Charlotte is the memoir of a year in the life of the author, her daughter Charlotte, her husband and their two sons.
Charlotte was born with a rare form of leukemia and given very little time to live. Devastated and without promising treatment options, Pia and her husband opt out of conventional medicine (to the shock of the doctors) and take their daughter home.
Pia weaves together the story of the year that follows with amazing artistry. Instead of a chronicle of medical benchmarks reached, frantic internet searches for a cure, or prognoses given, the reader walks with this mother through her swirling world of fear, exhaustion, anger, unexpected friendship and deep love.
The author’s home along a canal in Amsterdam becomes the family fortress, protecting Charlotte and her family from those seemingly well-meaning people who are merely curious, critical or morbid in their attentions. The sentinels outside the gates are three men from the neighborhood, who, without a single intrusive word or note of condescending pity, quietly protect and support the family within, each in their own way.
By following her motherly intuition, Pia creates the healing space her daughter needs to rest, be loved and slowly gain strength. In time the family, with Charlotte, reenters the world outside their fortress and continues their life together.
The book is a beautiful portrait of the deep love and courage of a mother and her infant daughter’s response of tenacious strength. It inspires me to mother more intuitively, to know that my presence is often more important than medicine, and to put up fortress walls around my family when they’re needed.