Marly Cornell tells the story of her daughter Cody a person of joyful spirit and infectious humor who travels falls in love more than once commits to a life partner advocates for others and achieves a life of independence—in spite of plentiful and confining physical disabilities. Whether dealing with school relationships sex work Internet romance multiple surgeries bias barriers or fear Cody’s charming combination of innocence wisdom and sense of fun have a profound effect on everyone she encounters.
Through this story of love laughter faith and miracles Marly illuminates the deeper truth allowing us a glimpse at something Cody knew all about the complete inability of circumstance to deflect greatness of spirit a reminder that each day of life is best engaged with a sense of achievement and celebration.
Marly Cornell is an artist writer and editor with a BFA from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia and an MA from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. She has maintained a painting and writing studio spoken publicly on art and social justice issues (hundreds of engagements nationally and internationally as well as radio and TV interviews) contributed magazine articles on a freelance basis edited newsletters and author manuscripts and created art throughout her daughter Cody’s life. However this work remained secondary as she worked in the corporate non-profit sector in healthcare behavioral services mental health law and physician recruitment. For thirty years this afforded her the opportunity to be in close proximity to many of the systems and people that had life-and-death influences on her daughter and their family.
Cornell left the corporate environment soon after her daughter’s death in 2004 and now works full time as a freelance writer and editor with occasional art commissions. She cowrote Walks on the Beach With Angie with Don Warner (North Star Press 2008) on the topic of the loss of a child. The book won two Midwest Book Awards and was a finalist for two Indie Excellence Awards and a Ben Franklin Award. She has served on several non-profit boards and for four years was the chair of the Midwest Book Awards program. She maintains affiliations with several writing editing and social justice and advocacy organizations.
The author is interested in providing support and encouragement for and shedding light upon the hundreds of thousands of children adults and families living with disabilities and/or chronic medical conditions who often confront challenging and difficult real-life situations with great courage humor and spirit.
“The most moving chronicle of life in our special world that I have read to date. An uplifting must-read.”--Paul Olson CEO Freedom in Wheelchairs
“Marly Cornell tells Cody's story in an engaging way that will not only touch you but will introduce you to a person who has much to teach us about the values we claim to embrace but often ignore.”--Gary L. Francione Author of Animals as Persons Rain Without Thunder Professor Rutgers University School of Law
“Reading this book while going through life-threatening health challenges I learned more about going forward knowing I’m living a productive life—and that I deserve to ask and expect more from healthcare.”--Julia Washenberger Disability Linkage Line Options Counselor Metropolitan Center for Independent Living
“The Able Life of Cody Jane serves as a reminder that life is simply too short to be defined by others’ misperceptions of our abilities.”--Cindy Brownstein CEO Spina Bifida Association Washington DC
"In this inspirational book Marly Cornell tells the story of her exceptional daughter Cody. Although she was born with spina bifida Cody Jane Ahlburg’s life was not defined by her birth defect. Rather what was most noteworthy about Cody was the fact that she was able to teach many life lessons to others. Through the examples of her independence and innate set of values that are chronicled in this book the reader will put to rest any preconceived notions about limitations. The message is instead about going forward and focusing on abilities not disabilities. The author also shares strategies about survival and having success in life that would be pertinent to anyone dealing with difficult circumstances."--Diane Bligh Christopher and Dana Reeves Foundation