What stories would you share with the world if your time on earth was limited?
Tragically, that wasn’t a hypothetical question for former biglaw attorney, wife and mom Julie Yip-Williams who was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer back in the summer of 2013 and passed away in March 2018. Upon learning of her diagnosis, Yip-Williams started a blog to write about living with chronic, and then terminal illness. During the last months of her life, Yip-Williams transformed her blog posts and other writings into an extraordinary memoir The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death and Everything That Comes After that I devoured earlier this week.
What is most striking about Yip-Williams’ blog and her book is her blunt honesty. She rages about the unfairness of being stricken with cancer when she’d already had her share of burdens (Yip-Williams was also legally blind), her jealousy towards other cancer patients with similar diagnoses who achieved better outcomes and the times that her illness created so much strain on her marriage that they threatened divorce. And Yip-Williams also grieves – for the happy life that she will depart too soon and for the loss of the person she was before cancer. Quite a different picture from the other cancer blogs that Yip-Williams herself derides – where cancer is a delightful journey readily overcome by grit and resilience.
Yip-Williams’ book is a refreshing break from the saccharine cheeriness of social media. More importantly, it’s a lesson on how one woman’s commitment to her principles and to truth has real rewards: immortality.