A Book Review
This is partially a book review but also a brief chronicle of what my life has been like since October 9th 2012. For those of my readers who don’t know, my mother passed away on that date and nothing has been quite the same since. Mom was my best friend, confidant and biggest supporter- morale-wise- from my earliest memories. During Christmastime of 2012 somebody asked me how I was doing. I thought about it for a few seconds and said the following:
“Well, I’m doing okay, all considering. Emotionally, I feel like I’m walking around with one shoe off, most of the time.”
Those are words I thought I’d never say but they were quite apt, true and nailed the whole situation right on the head. Your loved ones cannot be replaced by anyone and being without them changes your whole perspective on the world. Even simple navigation is not the same. Not being able to relate your day-to-day experiences to someone you trust, suddenly, is alarming. It puts your very being in a state of flux when your world narrows down to those who remain. It is helpful when those who remain are friendly territory but what happens when they aren’t ?
When I started reading Paris: A Love Story by Kati Marton this past summer I expected to read about the exciting life of a news correspondent. Instead I found the keys to the dilemma of what happens next when your world folds in on you. When you look in the mirror and you see only yourself along with your feelings and emotions you feel acutely alone. Even if you’re a person who does not get lonely, it’s still a lonely place. Carrying on is a challenge.
In place of a dedication, Kati wrote this:
This is a memoir for anyone who has ever fallen in love in Paris or with Paris
Kati was married to Peter Jennings back in September of 1978 so this chronicles her life with this hunky Scotsman who captured the hearts of many American women. Paris was their soul connection. I don’t know how many times I would hear his name in a single day when I first started working in salons as an independent contractor manicurist/nail technician. He was held up as a GQ type who had actually posed for the magazine at some time during his career. Together, he and Kati had two children, a boy and a girl who are now both adults. Jennings story is relatively short, however. Kati and Peter were married for fifteen years but divorced. I remember hearing about his death on the six o’clock news in the late summer of 2005 of lung cancer and was profoundly shocked that he died so young and in such a way. Kati and Peter had been divorced for a number of years before his death but it is obvious that her feelings for him remained, even before but definitely after he passed.
In the 70s Kati was an award-winning NPR and ABC news correspondent and she has authored seven books in all- not a single one is fiction. She married Richard Holbrooke after a span of autonomous years even though she had not planned on marrying again and this story unfolds in many of the same places she enjoyed with Peter. Hence, the dedication. Unfortunately, marriage with Holbrooke was shortened, abruptly, when he died suddenly and without warning late in 2010. What she chronicled in this book is a testament to the human spirit when grief is the only place to turn. Some of her words are: ‘Grief imposes its own rhythms’ and ‘Grief distorts everything, time included.’
Indeed, grief seems to take on a life of its own and there is no skipping it by staying busy or getting on with life. That type of thinking is for those who haven’t any idea what love is about or the nature of love for those who are too young to understand it fully. Billy Holliday sang, “Until you’ve loved a love you had to lose, you don’t know what love is.” No matter the situation, the loss of love by death or separation is heartbreaking and in order to mend you have to go through a series of processes. I won’t say this is a precedent to being in love but when you lose a loved one you become an expert on the subject of love. It’s like describing a harrowing or momentous event- every detail of it is magnified or amplified and in focus. My experience with grief is so new that I find myself saying ‘our’, ‘we’ and ‘us’ quite often when I mean ‘my’, ‘I’ and ‘me’. Love doesn’t vanish or perish because a loved one is gone, it gets stronger and it takes a lot of contemplation to get to that point.
You don’t have to be grieving to get something out of Kati’s book but you may want to recommend it to others around you who are grieving. This book was a comfort to me and helped me in another phase that I never thought I would hurdle. She should’ve written the dedication more simply and it would have been correct: This is a memoir for anyone who has ever fallen in love or loved someone.
To all who love or want to love,