Dearly Beloved

Susan Estrich
Thursday, December 26, 2019
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“The Dearly Beloved” by Cara Hall was my favorite book of 2019.

It’s the story of two families, two ministers, jointly appointed to lead a liberal Christian church in New York in the 1960s.

I’m not Christian; I’m not much interested in books about Christian faith. If I’d understood where I was headed, I might never have picked it up. I just thought it was a novel by a writer I like.

Which it is.

It is also about faith. One of the women, one of the wives, is not a believer. She makes no bones about it. They have a child with special needs. They get the usual dire advice of the time. They ignore it. He believes in Jesus. She believes in their son.

It is the best explanation of faith I have ever felt.

The woman I love as dearly as anyone other than my children, the woman who has lived with me, raised those children, taken care of me, shared my life and I hers, is fighting stage 4 cancer. “Fighting” — such a wrong word for what is not really a fair fight at all. The fair fight says she loses. This is not a matter of rational proof. The treatment is awful. If you are reading this and you are living with someone who is suffering, or if you are suffering yourself, you know what I mean. They call it the “new normal,” but there is really nothing normal about it. It just is.

Rosie has every right to be angry. She complained of stomachaches for years. They told her to take Tums. She should have complained more. I should have demanded more. The doctor should have done more. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. But most of the time, she isn’t angry. She is sad; she is often sick; but she holds on to her faith in Jesus. The stream of people who come to visit — I have never seen anything like it in my life — is a testament to the fact that she has lived her faith. This goddaughter is a nurse; that boy is in the Army; this one is an accountant; that is the half brother I didn’t know — one after another, every one of them here legally, working, contributing, being law-abiding citizens because of the courage of one woman.

She believes in Jesus.

I believe in Rosie.

May we all live our faith. May you find peace and joy this holiday season. And to those who fight, and those who love them, a special merry Christmas. Have faith.

(To find out more about Susan Estrich visit the Creators Syndicate website at