Honest, unsparing, ultimately uplifting account of magazine- writer Hosansky's passage from devastating grief to a fulfilling life alone. ``I was of the generation that went from parents to husband,'' the author says, and so the death of her mate of 39 years, travel- magazine editor Mel Hosansky, is doubly traumatic. Not only does she lose a beloved companion but she's forced into an independence that nothing in her experience has prepared her for. In his last days, wasted by cancer and weary of the struggle, Mel confides to his brother that he would like to ``drift off into nothingness. But I feel that I have to be responsible for Anne.'' The author, overhearing him, is enraged, partly because she fears the truth of his words: Mel's concern for her may well be prolonging his hopeless, agonizing existence. After Mel's death, Hosansky copes with the dread of coming home alone; crazy moments of being blindsided by reminders of her loss; bitter disillusionment as friends and relatives pull away from her; paralyzing indecision about details of Mel's funeral and burial; and a sense of incompleteness now that she's no longer part of a couple. She joins a support group, reaches out to friends, gradually begins to attempt tasks that Mel used to take care of, and, tentatively, even considers romance (in an endearing scene, this 60-ish woman steels herself to buy condoms for a date with a widower from her support group—neither of them, it turns out, is up to using them). Hosansky's greatest victory is when she takes—alone—the trip to Italy that she had meant to take with Mel. Slow deaths from cancer, insensitive doctors, and surviving wives left with lives in ruins have become, sadly, all too familiar in recent nonfiction. But Hosansky's chronicle stands out by virtue of the author's candor about her fears and frailties, as well as of her bravery in growing to meet the challenges of her new life.
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