Discover more from The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad
A surprise for Suleika
Help me support and celebrate our fearless Susu
Hi, y’all! It’s Carmen here.
I met Suleika when we entered the same low-res graduate program in the summer of 2018. We sat next to each other at orientation but didn’t bond until several days later, under duress: on an eleven-mile training run through the hills of Vermont, which included an asthma attack for her, a flare up of plantar fasciitis for me, and both of us jumping in a lake fully clothed. (We had both signed up for long-distance running races. We completed them, but it’s safe to say neither of us will ever attempt that again.)
For the next six months, until our winter residency, Suleika called me on the first of the month, the day our assignments were due. Each time, we talked for hours—about our writing, our struggles, our joys. She asked questions, she listened, she made me laugh, she gave gentle advice.
Only a few months ago, I told Suleika I’d been surprised when she called each month. We both had established lives, with lots of commitments to work and family and friends—she had even more than I did. I asked her why she always called. She said, rather matter-of-factly, “Because you were going through a divorce. I wanted to make sure you were doing okay.”
Maybe it seems like a small thing, but it was not a small thing. It was kindness to a virtual stranger. It was a generous, compassionate offering. It was her showing up. Her cold call version of “Darling, I am here for you.”
For the last two years, I have watched Suleika show up—day after day, week after week, month after month. She has shared her humor, her tenderness, her hard won wisdom, and she has welcomed yours in return. In a time of profound isolation, she has pulled us together, given us tools to make sense of this bewildering era, and made us feel seen, heard, understood, less alone.
As Suleika waits in another in-between, I’d like to invite you to celebrate her and her loving kindness in a tangible way. If you feel moved, I’m asking you to consider one or more of the actions below.
Between Two Kingdoms is out in paperback today—grab a copy for someone you love, for someone whose life has been interrupted, for someone who loves reading books by flashlight in a tent under the stars. Or if you read Between Two Kingdoms and loved it, tell your people about it on social.
Join the bone marrow registry at BeTheMatch.org. It’s so very quick and easy, and you could save a life.
Suleika is a remarkable human: an exceptional seeker, writer, teacher, and gatherer. We learn from her every day—lessons about generosity and patience, about delving deeply and uncovering powerful truths for living. I’d be so grateful if you could join us in supporting and celebrating her.
Until Sunday—much love,
Between Two Kingdoms was an instant New York Times bestseller and named one of the 100 Best Books of 2021 by The New York Times Book Review.
“Here is the key to Between Two Kingdoms—Jaouad’s disarming honesty. There is no self-pity in this telling and few of the expected pieties . . . Jaouad is writing about a process, a back-and-forth. In the tension between health and sickness, past and present, a new balance must be forged.”—Los Angeles Times
“I was immersed for the whole ride and would follow Jaouad anywhere. Her sensory snapshots remain in my mind long after reading . . . Not only can Jaouad tolerate the unbearable feelings, she can reshape them into poetry . . . Her writing restores the moon, lights the way as we learn to endure the unknown.”—Chanel Miller, The New York Times Book Review
“Beautifully crafted . . . affecting . . . a transformative read . . . Jaouad’s insights about the self, connectedness, uncertainty and time speak to all of us, not only readers who’ve faced a life-changing—and potentially life-ending—diagnosis. . . . The timing of this memoir is just right.”—The Washington Post