The Brave In-Between: Notes from the Last Room

Amy Low's thoughtful memoir, The Brave In-Between, details her attempts to live with courage and compassion after receiving a stage IV colon cancer diagnosis, on top of her divorce. Low invites readers into "the last room" of life, sharing her struggles and triumphs (and some deceptively "normal" days) along her cancer journey.

She begins her narrative with "an awful ending": the dissolution of her marriage to Don, the father of her two children. In 2019, several years into single parenthood, with Don living several hours away, Low went to see her doctor about some symptoms she couldn't shake. After a series of increasingly worrying tests, Low's medical team found a sizable mass on her liver--a diagnosis that sent her down a path she could never have imagined.

As she details her chemo treatment; her cycle of surgeries and recoveries; and her emotional swings from acceptance to anger to overwhelming grief, Low frames her experience around St. Paul's exhortation in Philippians, chapter 4, verse 8: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things." Low sees this as "the map for the most bewildering corners" of her last room, as she navigates the "constant tension between the art of living fully and the discipline of waiting well."

Her memoir emphasizes the beauty, wisdom, and even joy she found along the way. With humor, grace, and plenty of grit, Low lives as fully as she can in the last room, knowing her time there is limited--but remaining open to what the room can teach her. --Katie Noah Gibson

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