The best sports book of 2010 is heartbreaking ... and heartening
The best sports book of 2010 isn't really a sports book. Generally speaking, sports books concern tackles and home runs and sub-four-minute miles. They delve into the psyches of athletes and the souls of teams. From
Nothing, however, compares to this.
When a copy of
This time, there was no perky publicist. No letter. Just this, written on the opening page of
Shortly after her daughter died, Elaine was advised by a therapist to begin each day by writing to Cindy. That's what this book is: a raw, gritty, brick-to-the-gut, 167-page series of letters from a distraught mother to her athlete-daughter who is unable to read them. It is the first book that has ever made me cry, as well as a 100-million decibel reminder to live with vigor and passion.
Writes Schaller in her August 1 entry:
In the year's span that she composed the letters, Schaller, a previously unpublished Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., resident never thought about turning them into a book. This was, after all, the most private, gut-wrenching experience of her life. In the days and weeks and months following Cindy's death, Schaller was often paralyzed. She couldn't sleep. (Page 97:
She thought of her daughter endlessly, and desperately wanted to trade places.
Over time, however, Schaller's mindset began to change. The letters served a purpose -- not to erase the rawness, but to help her cope with it. They were notes to herself as much as they were to Cindy; reminders that life is precious, and that her daughter wouldn't want her eternally mourning.
"I hope there can be value in the book to people," she says. "We experience loss and we feel so alone. But there are others who have gone through it. Others like me."
Schaller and her husband Earl self-published
Best of all, a daughter has not died in vain.
The family started the
Three years ago, Schaller, searching for whys, blamed endurance sports for leaving her daughter vulnerable to a brain aneurysm. Now she embraces them.
"In my mind what we're doing with the foundations is the marriage of what she lived for, the triathlon, and what she died of, a brain aneurysm," says Schaller, who is donating 100 percent of the proceeds from the book to the BAF. "It brings a lot of satisfaction, but I'll never be able to kick up my heels and be overjoyed about the successes."
"Because no matter how much we accomplish," she says, "Cindy's not here."