A former book editor and memoirist’s account of the remarkable 35-year friendship that sustained her through the trials and tribulations of adult life.
Thomas (Thinking About Memoir, 2008, etc.) met her best friend, Chuck, when both were working for a New York publisher. They never saw each other outside of the office, where they were “in each other’s pockets” and sometimes mistaken for a couple at work parties. Eventually, Thomas moved on to another job and remarried while Chuck started a family of his own—yet they were never out of touch. Then Chuck had an affair with Thomas’ oldest daughter, Catherine, who had found her way into the publishing world after college. The event rocked Thomas’ world, as well as her friendship with Chuck, because it was “something done behind [her] back.” Not long after that, Thomas’ husband suffered from traumatic brain injuries that would transform him into a bedridden invalid for the rest of his life. Thomas attempted to sever contact with Chuck, but in the end, he would become a steadying presence in her now upended life. With her best friend—and several good dogs by her side—Thomas went on to witness the births of grandchildren, the death of her husband, Catherine’s cancer diagnosis, the signs of her own aging, and Chuck’s struggle with cirrhosis and hepatitis C. These events challenged Thomas to celebrate or rediscover the beauty of life through reflection or her paint-on-glass artwork, just as it challenged her to push beyond the alcoholism that “alleviate[d] the pain or allowed [her] to feel it.” More aware than ever of the fragility of existence, Thomas eventually learned that the one thing that had allowed her to survive was love, which, in its roominess, “allow[ed] for betrayal and loss and dread,” feelings that inevitably come with being alive.
A moving and eloquent memoir.