Heaven Is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy
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Go on an unforgettable journey, with a woman who has unimaginable strength.
Stephanie Nielson began sharing her life in 2005 on nieniedialogues.com, drawing readers in with her warmth and candor. She quickly attracted a loyal following that was captivated by the upbeat mother happily raising her young children, madly in love with her husband, Christian (Mr. Nielson to her readers), and filled with gratitude for her blessed life.
However, everything changed in an instant on a sunny day in August 2008, when Stephanie and Christian were in a horrific plane crash. Christian was burned over 40 percent of his body, and Stephanie was on the brink of death, with burns over 80 percent of her body. She would remain in a coma for four months.
In the aftermath of this harrowing tragedy, Stephanie maintained a stunning sense of humor, optimism, and resilience. She has since shared this strength of spirit with others through her blog, in magazine features, and on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Now, in this moving memoir, Stephanie tells the full, extraordinary story of her unlikely recovery and the incredible love behind it--from a riveting account of the crash to all that followed in its wake. With vivid detail, Stephanie recounts her emotional and physical journey, from her first painful days after awakening from the coma to the first time she saw her face in the mirror, the first kiss she shared with Christian after the accident, and the first time she talked to her children after their long separation. She also reflects back on life before the accident, to her happy childhood as one of nine siblings, her close-knit community and strong Mormon faith, and her fairy-tale love story, all of which became her foundation of strength as she rebuilt her life.
What emerges from the wreckage of a tragic accident is a unique perspective on joy, beauty, and overcoming adversity that is as gripping as it is inspirational. Heaven Is Here is a poignant reminder of how faith and family, love and community can bolster us, sustain us, and quite literally, in some cases, save us.
forward to it with my whole soul. Hope for heaven, when my body will be restored to “its perfect frame,” motivates everything I do so I can find eternal happiness there, with Nana and the rest of my family. That belief comforts and blesses me every day. But I hope that is a long time from now, after my children are grown and married, after Christian and I have grown old and gray. As I write this, I am looking out at the mountains, watching the children play in our new tree house and feeling the
exciting to be with him but also comfortable and satisfying. My insecurities slowly disappeared; I felt safe and accepted. When we talked, he looked at me in a way that was more than attentive. He really looked at me, as though he was intent on discovering the real me—what I cared about and what I really wanted. He told me I was beautiful and he loved my short hair. He made me laugh. For every hour we spent together, I wanted another and another and another. I hadn’t written to Graham for
of the constant pressure to work harder, to try again, to submit my weakened body to the torture of getting stronger. But they weren’t going to quit, and so I made a decision. I dumped all my frustration and heartache into a resolve to do whatever they wanted so that I could get out of the hospital as quickly as possible. Noticing my new efforts, the therapists would sometimes use my children as motivation. “Pretend you’re making dinner for your family. Reach for the spaghetti sauce high up in
were boys I thought were cute and wanted to impress, but I also wasn’t willing to change for anyone else. If a boy was interested in me, they would have to be interested in me, not in someone I was pretending to be. I wore my hair short, and loved my pixie haircut, but I remember realizing that boys don’t like girls with short hair. Well, then boys in high school wouldn’t like me, because I loved my short hair. While I dreamed of a loving and romantic relationship, I was never the least bit
beside me. He buried his head in the pillow and cried. “Stephanie, it was so hard.” He told me how sad he’d been to say good-bye to our back porch, where we’d sat in our swing in those mild Arizona evenings and laughed at our beautiful children. Utah’s gray skies seemed to hang especially heavy around us. “I hope they don’t tear down the tree house,” Christian said, and like he must have, I heard the echoes of the children laughing as they climbed into Mulberry Bungalow. I knew that for