THANKSGIVING: An AIDS Journal by Elizabeth Cox
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THANKSGIVING: An AIDS Journal

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An impassioned and gripping account of what it's like to be the young, loving wife of a man dying of AIDS. In these seamless pages from her journal, the niece of Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox fights the horror, shock, repugnance, and sense of betrayal she feels when she must suddenly face the truth about her husband's puzzling and recurrent ailments. Both of them are young musicians with promising careers, deeply in love, and with a child they adore. They have been happy together for many years when, in London on a job trip for him, the first blow strikes and he is hospitalized for an unexplained fever and malaise. From there, Cox traces the appalling course of the disease over a period of 14 months, the frustrating search for medical and spiritual help, the costs, the implacable strain of caring for both a dying man and a young child, and the social ostracism. Their lives in and out of hospitals, through remissions and false hopes, the effort to lead a normal life for their own sakes and that of the bewildered child, are all sketched vividly. The author confesses her outrage at the situation, her sense of fragility and neediness, her reactions to the unwanted knowledge of her husband's youthful homosexual affairs, her panic and grief--all of it played against her unwavering love for him. Although she is fortunate to have the support of a well-bred family and a few friends in whom she can confide, none of it is enough to vanquish her sense of isolation and loneliness in coping with a fatal illness that carries so much social opprobrium--as if, she says, the dying man were ""wearing a scarlet letter on his chest."" The most solid help she finds is from the gay community, help that she describes with gratitude. Without sensationalism, she sketches the helplessness of the medical profession, the frantic search for any kind of hope from all kinds of healers, drugs, and therapies; and she is harshly honest in relating the changes in herself and her husband--from terror, self-pity, and outrage to the dignity and courage that make it possible for them both to decide to cut off all medical efforts and end his life. A fine, involving human document, written with grace--and deserving of a wide audience.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Harper & Row