Katherine shared many lessons learned and how her feelings about stuttering evolved. She wrote, “I am not magically fixed as the curtain drops.” Did she find the answer she had always hoped for? She emphasized that she still isn’t “normal, whatever that means.” She still stuttered. Katherine compared the way her memories and experiences will stay with her to the way memories and experiences stay with an alcoholic or manic depressive. She also mentioned she still feels like the 7 year old version of herself in some ways.
Katherine revealed her thoughts, feelings, and overall change in attitude toward stuttering with strength and maturity. She described the “messiness” and the “gray areas of stuttering.” Katherine moved beyond the belief that her stutter is “something that happened” to her and a barrier that made her different than the rest of the world. She no longer equated happiness and fluency. She learned we are all in a “gray,” “messy,” “complicated world” with vulnerabilities that make us who we are. Katherine described “the power that our vulnerabilities hold over us” and the way she felt stuttering took control of her and took away so much from her. She explained it controlled her appearance, her language, every conversation, and every relationship. Katherine described stuttering as “breathless and painful and scary.” This pain was reflected when she shared she would not wish it on her worst enemy.
Katherine learned by embracing our vulnerabilities, “they are totally dismembered.” In the end, she felt she would not be herself without her stutter. She no longer felt like she needed to change that about herself, as it caused her to achieve all she did and to develop many positive qualities. She no longer felt stuttering was an enemy to fight against. Katherine wrote, “It might be the best thing that ever happened to me.
In addition, stuttering gave Katherine strength, taught her about love, and taught her to fight the fear of change. She wrote, “We are all designed to be, in the words of Phil Schneider, ‘perfectly imperfect.’” Katherine felt it gave her more than it took from her. It gave her “a fighting instinct” that allowed her to know she would handle anytime life is expectedly not easy. Katherine ended the epilogue by emphasizing “it is our imperfections that ultimately make us beautiful,” and that “they are what give us our humanity and what bring us, finally, into focus.” I am so happy for Katherine in reaction to reading about the acceptance she achieved by the end of the book. I am impressed by the strength she revealed as she shared her thoughts about such an impactful aspect of who she is.
I reflected on the experiences and feelings of students while reading the epilogue. I thought about the impact of a 7-year-old’s experiences and feelings. I thought about how the experiences might stay with the individual in the way Katherine’s memories have stayed with her. Have any students said or done anything that reminded you of the experiences Katherine shared? How will you apply what you’ve learned in schools? What did you enjoy or want to be different about the ending of the book? What a great choice for book club! I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.
Lauren Gillenwater, Greenwood Elementary