The Long Awakening: A Memoir

An Amazon and Denver Post Bestseller

The riveting true story of a life-threatening coma, a miraculous awakening, and the long quest to regain what was lost.

With visceral images and richly layered storytelling, Lindsey O’Connor vividly tells the poignant true story of reentering the world she left. Underlying this life and death struggle is a story of lost and found love, the effort to make sense of life-altering events, and the continuing search for self. This moving memoir paints a powerful picture of pain, beauty, and the unsurpassable gift of finally knowing who you are.

The day our baby came into the world was the day I left. A day that began all smiles and excitement and anticipation and joy ended with running and panic and blood and tears. And then coma.

I lay suspended in the deep, my newborn unknown. Nothingness. Layers where dark pulled from below, light called from above, and me, trapped in between, longing to break the surface. 

To live.

Forty-seven days later when I first saw my husband's face leaning close to me, I knew where, and who, I was. But other things took much longer to know. Learning to restitch life--and love--when everything's changed, and finding who we are afterward, can be the longest journey of all.

I'm Lindsey O'Connor, and this is the story of my long awakening.

Click here to download an EXCERPT.


A snapshot of "Caroline Therapy"... baby and mom in ICU.


“...honest, lyrical, and riveting”
— Publishers Weekly

 “The Long Awakening is beautifully, creatively, written, and O'Connor's tale is stunningly complex, as she narrates her own inner consciousness (or lack of it, as the case may be)…This is an intimate story, lyrical, honest, scary at times. There is illness, danger, medicine, science, doubt, faith, friendship, anguish and hope... a glimpse into the hard lives some endure, and the brave and good way they emerge towards wholeness... What excellent writing by such a good, good writer, who gently frames her own struggles by other, equally moving stories.  As John Biewen (of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University) writes, The Long Awakening "glimmers with a keen understanding of what matters."  Yes! 
Hearts and Minds Books

"...But the tale in The Long Awakening is not just of O’Connor’s own recovery: it is enmeshed with the story of her daughter, Caroline. When O’Connor wakes without a bond to her daughter, her first response is guilt. Her grief on being discharged from the hospital is not merely that she comes home “old,” as she calls it: shuffling behind a walker, tied to her portage oxygen, nauseated and exhausted. It’s that she cannot take care of her baby, and even more, that she’s not in love with that baby. She hasn’t just lost time and memory: she’s lost her love for her child...Learning how to handle a fork again is one thing: learning how to fall in love with a child is entirely different...The Long Awakening reminded me of what I was fortunate enough not to lose: time, love, my child…my life."
—Eloisa James, New York Times–bestselling author, in Barnes & Noble Review

"A must read for all hospital employees! As a Respiratory Therapist who witnesses people going through similar circumstances, this book is a must read! The insight into hers as well as her families side of the bed is educational for those who walk around it daily." —Carol Hardisty, respiratory therapist.

"Literary Art, Storytelling Genius. Reading O'Connor's memoir felt akin to allowing myself a slow, deliberate, breathtaking look at a piece of art. With each page, I saw new angles, new points of tension and heartache. But, as I stepped back to take in the entire view, the predominant thread was one of hope. The beauty of family. The reality of the Divine. The breath of human connection. And the worthiness of a single life, lifted up. I will not be the same." —Michele Cushatt, author of Undone.

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A searingly honest, gorgeously told story of one woman’s awakening from a two-month coma after her baby’s birth and her long road back to love and purpose and the rediscovery of who she is. Lyrical and unforgettable.
— Eric Metaxas, New York Times bestselling author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy; and Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery
“A lyrical, stunning tale of one woman’s return to life. A laughing, weeping story of a family finding their way back home.”
— Claire Diaz-Ortiz, author; social innovation at Twitter, Inc.
O’Connor takes us into the groundlessness of intense trauma and reentry, and candidly (sometimes brutally so) shows what it is to resist, receive, and be . . . grace.
— Laura Munson, author of the New York Times and international bestseller This Is Not the Story You Think It Is
Be careful picking up The Long Awakening because you may be unable to put it down. With clear-eyed intelligence and heart, Lindsey O’Connor succeeds in taking her readers along on her journey through coma, awakening, and an arduous recovery aided by her family and, above all, her loving husband. This is a moving, intimate story, arrestingly written, that glimmers with a keen understanding of what matters.
— John Biewen, audio program director at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, and editor of Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound
Brilliant and renewing. A spectacular work of reflection, remembering, reconciling, and recovering. Substantial and wonderful. Memoir writing at its finest.
— Patricia Raybon, author of My First White Friend, and I Told the Mountain to Move
“For Lindsey O’Connor, surviving a 47-day coma was only prologue to a miraculous story of science, doubt, faith, and love. Hers is an astonishing narrative, courageously told.
— David Schulman, former senior producer BBC Americana and creator of public radio's Musicians in Their Own Words
Good things often happen when a great story meets a talented storyteller. But Lindsey O’Connor’s grasp of literary journalism gives this personal narrative much more substance than the typical memoir. Strong reporting places her experience in larger contexts that add depth and understanding. Her writer’s eye yields revealing detail and mind-expanding metaphor. Her sense of structure produces a magnetic narrative arc that follows the transformation of both body and mind. And her relentless effort to find meaning in her experience teases insight out of her personal experience while it builds toward the grander themes that help us all live better lives. The result is a complete package, a true story in the deepest sense of the word.
— Jack Hart, author of Storycraft; writing coach; former managing editor of The Oregonian; editor of two Pulitzer Prize-winning stories