Wallace Stegner fellow Evans (Creative Writing/Stanford Univ.) mourns the untimely death of his wife.
The author’s wife, Katie, died horrifically at the age of 30, killed by a bear during a walk in the Carpathian Mountains near Bucharest, Romania, and the author was there to witness her death. Katie had been athletic, bright and beautiful, and she worked in public health, while her husband taught English. She and Evans had met in the Peace Corps in Bangladesh, and during their seven years together, they lived in Chicago, Miami and Bucharest. Evans recalls their brief life as a couple in flashbacks, eschewing chronology. Though he vividly recounts the circumstances of Katie’s exceptional death, this is the author’s story, a memoir of grieving and consolation, of trying to define a young widower’s public face and private essence. “I have three soft-cover notebooks in which I wrote daily accounts of my life during that year,” he writes. “The journal is a matter of will and record. I wanted to survive grief. I feared I would lose, with time, the intensity of my reactions.” Evans takes us with him through the many elements of the tragedy and aftermath: the funeral, the family relations, the therapy, the insurance settlement and the banking arrangements. Often, the heartfelt support of family and friends was insufficient to assuage the survivor’s guilt or the wrenching pain. The emotional narrative is a study in loss, a confession and a search for meaning. The year after Katie died, the writer lived in a room in the back of the house of his sister-in-law and her family in Indiana. “My time in Indiana evolves in stages: grieving widower, live-in uncle, surrogate,” he writes. “I am less often the interloper….Vulnerable and partially present, I live in small incidents of grief that bring us together.”
An urgent, palpably emotional account of coping with extreme grief.