Reviewed by Kimberly Luyckx for Reader Views (11/18)
“Please Stay: A Brain Bleed, A Life in the Balance, A Love Story” reads like a piece of personal history. By incorporating intimate email and text record communiqués, its author Greg Payan chronicles the tragic event that would change his life forever.
At age 39, Payan’s fiancée, Holly, experiences a ruptured brain aneurysm that leads to severe neurological and systemic complications. As Payan explains, a brain bleed is difficult to survive from let alone attain any type of recovery. Their catastrophe is fully laid out and explained at the book’s beginning, however, it is the details and repercussions of the ordeal that make up the story. Author Payan maintains that the notes he received from friends and family were “like oxygen” to him on his most dismal days. Believing these communications to be the backbone of his experience, he uses them as the foundation for a book that proves that it isn’t so much the event that grants us transformation but the journey itself.
Initially, as I skimmed through the pages of Payan’s memoir I anticipated a superficial record of messages from various people associated with the couple. However, this book is more than just a catalog of correspondences. There are photos of Holly appearing throughout the memoir along with copies of handwritten notes that she scribbles while going through her trauma. In addition, there are the words that Payan himself pens.
Right from the start, the author’s dedication and prologue create the heartstrings that bind you to this harrowing journey. Scattered between the emails, texts, medical documents, doctor’s reports, and statistics are Payan’s own thoughts, observations, and experiences. They provide a critical insight into the emotionality of the situation and lend a chilling reality to the account. As a reader, I felt as though I were a direct witness to the couple’s predicament. While the woman he loves fades in and out of consciousness, Payan is dedicated to keeping her from becoming a clinical number. He continues to hold onto the human connection and what Holly has meant to him and all of the friends and family she has impacted in the past.
This is a story of giving and receiving and how we need that symbiosis to survive. Greg Payan’s book, “Please Stay: A Brain Bleed, A Life in the Balance, A Love Story” is inspiring and would be a healing balm for anyone experiencing a traumatic health event. It is a tale of how the life of just one person can affect so many others. And, it is a reminder that every day should be lived to the fullest. Payan writes, “If her life was to end at thirty-nine, we had lived every bit of it. We had loved, laughed, eaten, drank, and given all we had to each day and to each other.” By the end of this account, you will feel as though you have gone on a long, significant journey – one that is filled with love, gratitude, and hope. It will lift you up and give you faith in human kindness.