Scanning through my recent e-mails, I came across one with the subject line “Gallicentral News.” It was from firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m cautious about opening e-mails from unfamiliar addresses, and I’m quick to delete anything that refers to teenage girls, bodily fluids, requests for money, or rocket-sized thingies.
But this e-mail caught my attention. It sounded slightly familiar. I tried to recall who I knew named Galli. Whose newsletter was I getting?
I opened it. After a quick glance I recognized the source. The person behind the website is Richard Galli, a lawyer and writer I’d contacted years ago. Mr. Galli is the author of several books including Rescuing Jeffrey, a memoir about his son’s July 4, 1998 diving accident that resulted in a devastating spinal cord injury. Just days before his 18th birthday, Jeffrey Galli was rendered paralyzed below his neck, unable to move his arms or legs, incapable of breathing on his own.
Richard Galli and I both published books at about the same time on similar subjects, but there the similarities end. Mr. Galli’s story is about saving his son from drowning only to temporarily regret it and consider not saving him from quadriplegia. My book is about taking care of my husband after a bicycling accident rendered him a C-4 quad, like Jeffrey, confined to an electric wheelchair, dependent on others for his care.
Rescuing Jeffrey wrestles with big—very big—questions about life and death. I can’t say that I enjoyed reading Mr. Galli’s book, or even pondering the issues presented. I wasn’t much taken with the idea of letting Jeffrey die. He was conscious, alert, and cognitive. Eventually Richard and his wife, Jeffrey’s mother, came to the same conclusion, but not before arguing with the ethics board of the hospital where their son was cared for by a team of specialists whose duty was to keep him alive.
After reading Rescuing Jeffrey I contacted Mr. Galli. It was easy to do so since his website was announced on his book jacket and he was soliciting funds for Jeffrey’s education and well-being. In my e-mail I told Mr. Galli that I had read his memoir, that my husband had suffered an injury similar to Jeffrey’s, and that I, too, had written a book about a freak accident and our subsequent struggles. Would Mr. Galli like to see a copy of Tumbling After? If so, I would send it to him.
Mr. Galli wrote back to me. No, he wasn’t interested in my book; in fact he wasn’t interested in anything to do with me or the publishing industry in general. I don’t recall what else was in the e-mail. I just remember the tone: bitter, angry, sarcastic. I do remember my reply: “Are you always like this or did I just contact you on a bad day?” I erased his first and subsequent responses. What I had hoped would be a positive connection had turned disappointing. I didn’t want to pursue it.
But here in my inbox years later is an update on Mr. Galli’s life: new books and movie projects; photographs and articles; opportunities to buy his merchandise and contribute to Jeffrey’s trust fund; and a request to forward the link to his newsletter on to others.
I remember the lesson I learned from Mr. Galli during that long ago correspondence, that the stress and pain of taking care of a loved one is no excuse for becoming an unhappy cynic. So I pass his website on to you. Check it out. There is much to be learned from Jeffrey and his family’s struggle, and even more to be learned from Mr. Galli’s savvy marketing skills. I’d consider taking a lesson or two from him if I wasn’t so busy just trying to get by.
For more on Richard and Jeffrey Galli go to www.gallireport.com, www.richardgalli.com, and www.rescuingjeffrey.com.