She knew they would only have nine months together, but in that time Sarah Williams's unborn daughter would transform her understanding of beauty, worth, and the gift of life. Happily married and teaching at Oxford,
Sarah William had credentials, success, and knowledge. It took someone who would never have any of these things to teach her what it means to be human. This extraordinary true story begins
with the happy news of a new member of the Williams family. Sarah's husband, Paul, and their two young daughters share her excitement. But the happiness is short-lived, as a scan at the hospital reveals that the baby has a condition causing severe skeletal deformity. Birth will be fatal.
Sarah and Paul decide to carry the pregnancy to full term and not abort, which shocks hospital staff and Sarah's professional colleagues. She finds her personal anguish exacerbated by having to defend her child's dignity and worth. Naming her is important; they decide on Cerian, Welsh for "loved one."
Williams writes, "Cerian is not a strong religious principle or a rule that compels me to make hard and fast ethical decisions. She is a beautiful person who is teaching me to love the vulnerable, treasure the unlovely, and face fear with dignity and hope." In this candid and vulnerable account,
Sarah lets the reader in on her family's journey towards Cerian's birthday, which will also be her deathday. It's rare enough to find a writer who can share such a heart-stretching personal experience without sounding sappy. Here is one who at the same time has the ability to articulate the broader issues Cerian's story raises. In a society striving for perfection, where worth is earned, identity is constructed, children are a choice, normal is beautiful, and deformity is repulsive, Cerian's short life raises vital question about what we value and where we are headed as a culture. Perfectly Human
was first published in the United Kingdom as The Shaming of the Strong.
This edition includes a new afterword by the author.