Bittersweet reflections on romance and its tragic end.
Jordan’s work is less a memoir than a tribute to her late husband, Marvin. “I realized,” she writes, “I was the ‘witness’ for these forty years of his life and all that he did for so many others.” The author’s own background and her move to LA are brief details compared to the time and care she takes to describe meeting her dream man. It was love at first sight when they found each other at a party and then, on their first date, went “fishing” in the oversized aquarium in his living room. Despite her caution around his bold proclamations of intending to marry her, they married nine months later. As she moves back and forth in time among the major events of their relationship—their first date, the first time she met his mother, their last Passover together as an extended family, the ominous news from doctors—she fills them in with reminiscences of tender moments idolizing Marvin, her “creative, amalgamated conundrum.” Eventually, prostate cancer and his heart condition weakened him to such a state that the sweet, playful moments were replaced by visits from hospice nurses and children come home for a final visit. After Marvin’s death, Jordan’s subsequent grief mounted in intensity as her relationships with him and even God were called into question. Particularly powerful is the revelation of one of Marvin’s oldest secrets and Jordan’s subsequent confrontation with his ashes—a moment that might be too melodramatic for a fictional story. But Jordan is a clear, smart writer only relating her emotions as they really happened. She’s too focused on romance and sentimentality to make a profound investigation of grief à la Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), but even when her prose so swoons for Marvin, her conviction in catharsis keeps the book from turning maudlin.
A firsthand account of losing a soul mate that will appeal most to readers dealing with loss or looking for sometimes-tragic realism in a romance.