In this debut memoir, a widow recalls her husband’s life and tragic, slow-motion death from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The book opens with the author’s stricken husband, David, slowly suffocating because his ventilator can’t provide him with sufficient oxygen. He’s just one minute away from planned preparations to take him off the respirator and place him in a morphine coma to allow him to die painlessly. Then Starrett suddenly realizes that they both need one more day to bring them final closure. In a fast flashback, the author tells of how she first met her husband in 1983, through a southern Nevada–based Mensa chapter, when they were both in their mid-20s. They eventually married and moved to Montana, then back to Nevada. The author describes their experiences living next to dysfunctional neighbors and local gangs and the various jobs she and David held to pay the rent. They encouraged and supported one another in their educational aspirations, and both doggedly pursued and received advanced degrees. The couple also faced great adversity; she struggled for years with infertility, and David was treated for testicular cancer. Later, their twin girls, born prematurely, required a large amount of dedicated care. In the present, Starrett describes run-ins with unpleasant doctors and nurses and ill-mannered, vitriolic family members, but she balances these passages with tales of her family’s happier moments. Although the story is wrenching, it lacks the rich, descriptive prose which might increase its emotional impact. Instead, the memoir provides a great deal of distracting minutiae, which has the effect of slowing the narrative down. That said, Starrett engagingly begins each chapter with a poignant scene from David’s deathbed and, near the end, seamlessly carries the story of his final days to its conclusion. She also ably captures her husband’s resolute, courageous spirit, and readers will likely be awed by the author’s unflappable fortitude.
A tragic love story unfortunately slowed by superfluous details.