Collins’s debut memoir chronicles his wife’s losing battle with breast cancer and his subsequent struggle to raise their two-year-old daughter alone.
Three months after their wedding, Louise Collins became pregnant with a much-wanted child. Seven months into the pregnancy she found a lump in her breast: a series of biopsies was performed, a malignancy confirmed. The physicians induced labor at eight months so Louise could begin six months of chemotherapy. When daughter Robin was six months old, the young couple found out that the cancer had metastasized to Louise’s lungs, necessitating a stem cell transplant. Despite these medical heroics, she died. David was thrown into a tailspin, never really getting the chance to grieve since he was instantly submerged in the grinding routine of raising a very young child alone. “I find myself managing [Robin] more than actually raising her,” he confesses at one point. “I am a man, after all.” While the story is quite moving, the writing is wildly uneven. The author’s description of slow footsteps on the stairs as his father comes to deliver the news of Louise’s death is heartfelt in its simplicity. Other scenes could have benefited from heavier editing. When he learns that the cancer has returned, Collins yells, “You motherscratchers why? Why why why why why you motherscratchers why!?” While Louise and Robin are depicted (perhaps inevitably) in a saintly fashion, Collins is less compassionate toward himself. He describes stumbling through his job, all the while relishing the peace and quiet of the office compared to the chaos of home. By the end, the author has accepted his position as a survivor with tremendous responsibilities and is ready to rejoin the living.
Artistically rather bumpy, but Collins’s earnestness will touch most readers all the same.