Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Widow's Book Corner - What Remains

As promised, I will start reviewing books that I have read recently. Mostly of them will be about grief but I am sure some yoga books will show up from time to time. And, if I find a fiction book that I like, I won't keep that to myself and will pass it along ;) I can promise no talk of the Fifty Shades of Gray. Yes I did read it but that's about all that needs to be said.

After Matt's death, I quickly went out searching for grief books, in particular books focused on younger widows. There aren't that many out there but  amongst the few, there are some excellent reads. I have always been a person that fell back on books and used them to prepare myself for any of life's situations. I also love to read fiction books, I read a lot in the past year just to take me away from it all. I pretty much enjoy all books. I usually have one fiction and one self-help/informational book going at any given time. And my recent Kindle purchase has only added fuel to the fire. Before Matt and I bought a house I got a book to prepare myself called Buying a House  and before we adopted Lila, I picked up a copy of The Only Dog Training Book You'll Ever Need. Matt would always laugh at my "preparation" books but was happy when I came to our closing ready to have an informed conversation and won Lila from two other adoption applicants after I told the Adoption Director about my positive training techniques. I always turn to books and this period of my life has been no different. There are a lot of grief books to sort through out there so hopefully this provides a quick reference for anyone looking for a book in their time of need.

What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship and Love  by CaroleRadziwill

I LOVE the Real Housewives TV series on Bravo. I started with the original cast of Orange County and have followed them all since. It's my guilty pleasure and typically what I relax to in the evenings with a glass of wine. Matt couldn't stand the show and would leave the room entirely and just didn't understand how a bunch of woman bickering was enjoyable. But whatever, it is my football. Me and my girlfriends have spent many of hours having a laugh over this crazy cast of characters too. It's just plain old fashioned fun.  

I was looking forward to a new season of the Real Housewives of New York City a couple of months ago. Bravo had rehauled the cast year for some new spice with three new housewives. Much to my surprise, there is now widow on the cast, Carole Radziwill. I thought she was a  great addition; an easy going down to earth gal and couldn't wait to see how her character unfolded.  And how wonderful to see that a young beautiful widow went on to live her life and enjoy it! During her intro, I learned that Carol wrote a book, I couldn't want to pick up a copy.

To give you a quick synopis; Carole was married to Anthony Radziwill in August 1994 after meeting him on the set of ABC where they both focused on news documentaries. Anothony was the nephew of Jackie O'Nasis Kennedy and cousin of John Kennedy Jr. He was also a Polish prince making Carole a princess. Carole was also best friends with Carolyn Bessette. She was caring for Anthony who was near the end of his long battle with cancer in Martha's Vineyard, waiting for John and Carolyn to arrive when their plane fell into the Atlantic Ocean. Anthony passed away about 3 weeks later in August 1999 at the age of 40.

I eagerly delved into her book and it didn't let me down. The most relateble piece of the book was Carol's care giving role in her husband's life. Most of the blogs/books of young widows that I find, the husband's death was typically a sudden event. There are a lot of the same issues but it can be very different at the same time. I related to Carol and sometimes had to stop reading the book just to take it all in. To realize that I am not a total nut job and someone else had the same exact feelings! Or to stop the tears from rolling down my cheek on the El as I relived some of these feelings.

One of the other similarities that I associated with, was that Carol's husband was diagnosed with cancer prior to their engagement which was the case with Matt and myself. Carol shares of her relationship, "But cancer showed up like an unplanned pregnancy and completely defined who we were together." 

How correct Carole is. Matt was diagnosed with brain cancer about 9 months after we started dating when I woke up in the middle of the night to him having a seizure. We went on to be together for 75 more months of living with this beast. Now I can see it ruled our lives, even if we wouldn't admit it. I am so angry about that, it's simply not fair. We didn't have the time we deserved to be young, carefree, and in love. I also look at those 9 months and think, damn those were good. Those 9 months, 270 days of carefree living were amazing, they carried us through.

A friend once asked me, didn't you consider what the impact was of marrying a man with cancer? Nope, never even crossed my mind. I loved Matt and wanted to marry him. Nothing was holding me back.

Another thing I identified with Carole was not realizing it was the end until it really really was. I mean I knew it but then you can't really ever know it or prepare yourself. Then it just sneaks up on you, your life is completely unrecognizable and you don't have the chance to brace yourself for what is about to happen. I am sure some looked at me and thought, how could you not know? My answer, you simply can't live there. Especially when you are 29 years old. You can't fathom it. You can't know it until it's there and you always have to hold onto the hope.  

I really enjoyed reading this book despite reliving some very intense moments of the past year. It was nice to relate to someone who was a caregiver at such a young age. The one thing I would have wished to hear about... Carole's journey afterwards. How she healed and recovered from it. She shares some bits and pieces  on the show but I would like to know more, how she lived through to come out to the other side and be happy. She also mentions her husband frequently on the show, which is even more promising, going on to be happy and still hold the love and memory in your heart. During the show, Carole shares she working on another book, this time a fiction novel called The Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating. She is also in talks to make this show a sitcom with the director/producer of Sex in the City. Looking forward to reading/watching more from Carolre.

I emailed Carole a couple of weeks ago. I haven't heard back, don't really sit around wondering if I will. I just had to let her know what her being on the show has meant to me. And of course to offer to star in the sitcom or at least provide some stories of my journey. And to yell at her for stealing my Real Housesives of Chicago widow angle.

Overall Recommendation: I would recommend this book to anyone  especially those who have been a caregiver to a spouse. Or to those that are a friend to someone who has had to care for their spouse with a terminal illness. 
Happy Reading,


1 comment:

  1. Hi Melissa, I finally figured out how to follow the blog and post a comment. I really like reading your entries - it gives insight to what you are thinking without having to ask too many questions. I fondly remember visiting you when you first dating Matt :)

    I plan to download the book on my iPAD.