By Lindsay Emery
Author, poet and psychotherapist Susan Rudnick remembers writing poetry from as young as eight years old, staying up late to compose pieces about almost anything.
Her latest work is something very different. Rudnick’s new book, “Edna’s Gift: How My Broken Sister Taught Me to Be Whole,” is centered around her relationship with her mentally and physically challenged sister.
Rudnick got the idea for the work when she wrote a chapter in a book about Buddhism and psychotherapy. Her writing received positive feedback, which jump-started the idea that her sister Edna should become a focus.
“That’s when I knew there was something more that needed to happen around a complicated, wonderful relationship I had with my sister and I wanted to make it visible,” said Rudnick, who will be holding a book signing this Sunday afternoon at The Village Bookstore in Pleasantville.
Most of all, “Edna’s Gift” is a love story. It details how her sister turned out to be the greatest teacher in her life, Rudnick said.
Rudnick, a Pleasantville resident, also wanted to tell the story of those who often lead invisible lives. She described how people might have known that she had a sister, but may not have been aware about their relationship or how Edna had affected her life in multiple ways.
“It’s our story and that story got a little more complicated when I found my own invisible disability,” Rudnick said.
When Rudnick was a teenager, she learned that she was born without a uterus, a condition called MRKH. She recently penned a personal essay about her life with MRKH in The New York Times.
Rudnick hopes that when people read her new book, they are reminded that they can find joy and wisdom from unexpected sources.
“It’s the idea that life throws you curve balls, but it you remain open, you find gifts everywhere,” she said.
Rudnick gave one example of an unexpected gift, even if it doesn’t seem that way at the time. She was uneasy about her sister’s move into a nursing home, but soon realized that Edna was able to be more independent as a result.
Rudnick said she was influenced when she was writing her book because through her professional training, she is more psychologically oriented. Writing a memoir, there’s something that changes when the story is put on paper, she said.
Rudnick also offered advice to those who have siblings or other family members with disabilities. She said it doesn’t help anyone by depriving yourself of some of the joys in life.
“You really need to take care of yourself, that’s one important message,” Rudnick said.
There are many resources online for both siblings who have disabilities and for women with MRKH.
This Sunday’s book signing will be held at 3 p.m. The Village Bookstore is located at 10 Washington Ave. in Pleasantville.