A Canton author has recently released a book about struggle, perseverance and finding peace.
Dianne Wood Halloran launched her book “A Journey…In God’s Embrace” this past December at the Our Lady of La Salette Catholic Church in Canton.
“I wrote this book in the hope that it will reach and help others,” Halloran said. “It is my story...but it is also the story of God’s grace and love in our lives.”
The book is a memoir as well as an autobiographical account of Halloran’s journey dealing with the sickness of her husband.
“I just realized how much (God) was taking care of things throughout my whole life and that there was a reason so to speak for what happened, and I feel that reason was to bring me closer to him,” Halloran said.
Halloran’s first husband, Roger, died years ago of AIDS.
“(Roger’s diagnosis) blew me away, totally took me off guard,” Halloran said.
Roger contracted AIDS through a homosexual experience, and Halloran was unaware of the encounter until Roger developed the illness.
However, the incident didn’t weaken the family’s strong bonds.
“I just realized that he loved me and our sons,” Halloran said. “What he did didn’t affect how much he loved us, and I just knew that I loved him and that he was a good father and husband to me, regardless of what had happened.”
Even when members of her extended family abandoned them after his diagnosis, Halloran and her sons stuck with Roger and supported him right through to the end.
Halloran launched her book on Dec. 1 for World AIDS Day. The launch was a success, with over 30 people in attendance.
Halloran had initially wanted to write her book as a memoir of her husband so her sons would know the story of how their parents met and their struggles together.
She explains how her memoir turned out to be an account of her own spiritual development, “As I was writing the story, I realized that I grew so much spiritually through that and how I really came to realize that God was the one in control and he was taking care of me.”
Halloran had faith in God before her husband’s illness, but she says her faith was strengthened by her experiences.
“I knew I needed his help through things, like through my illness,” Halloran says. “It wasn’t until through my illness and my husband’s illness that I realized how much I was not in control and that God has a plan for me, and if I just let him take care of things it would be OK.”
At 17 years old, Halloran developed a neurological illness.
Doctors initially thought Halloran had Multiple Sclerosis and gave her five years to live.
“They told me that I couldn’t walk or feed myself at that time,” she said.
Two years later, she married Roger after they had become good friends in college.
“He just said he loved me and that it didn’t matter,” Halloran said. “He was my support. he was the one who helped me through it.”
Halloran eventually began to recover, seeing improvements in her coordination.
“As my children grew older, I was able to hold a full-time job,” she said.
It would take 45 years before Halloran’s misdiagnosis of MS was confirmed.
“It wasn’t until probably 45 years after when my MRIs came out that they determined that I didn’t have MS but that I had some kind of neurological infection,” she said. “I’m so thankful that I’ve had God to help me through it.”
Halloran explains the epiphany she experienced through her struggles with her and her husband’s illnesses. “I realized that God has a plan for everything and that he had me go through my illness, and he helped me get better so I could be there to help my husband through his and have the strength of his presence and support.”
After her husband died, Halloran went back to college and received a degree in public and social services from Kennesaw State University.
“I made a promise to him (Roger), and he asked me to keep it, that I would finish my undergraduate degree,” she said.
Halloran explains that it was in college when she found her voice for her struggles.
While studying sociology, she was required to write a paper and present it to the class. She chose the topic “Families...secondary victims of AIDS.”
Halloran said writing was a catharsis for her, and it was the first time she went “public” with Roger’s illness.
“The response I received was overwhelming, and I realized that my story could touch the lives of people going through their own struggles,” Halloran said.
Halloran went on to work for the Department of Family and Children’s Services for several years before retiring. She volunteers at her church with both the St. Vincent de Paul Society and a grief support ministry.
She is now living with her husband, Matt, in Canton. Together, they have five children and nine grandchildren.
Looking back on her experiences, Halloran takes an optimistic view.
“All of the experiences have helped me grow,” Halloran said. “When I start finding myself stressing that I need to do something but wondering how I’ll get through it, I have the experience now so that I can relax and just pray and realize that I can actually feel God’s arms around me.”
Halloran’s book is available at at Northside Pharmacy in Canton, or online at Inspiringvoices.com, Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
For a more personalized purchase, the book can also be bought directly from Halloran by emailing her for a signed copy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Halloran and her book, visit her website at www.sites.google.com/site/diannewoodhalloran.