When his wife dies, a man learns to live with the vacuum of space she’s left behind.
The death of Santlofer’s wife happened unexpectedly; one day she was healthy and in need of a knee operation, the next day, she was gone, leaving a hole in Santlofer’s life and numerous questions as to what really caused her death. In the brief first part, the author immediately plunges the reader into the moments before Joy’s death, expertly capturing the panic and dismay he felt as he watched the paramedics work on her and the horribly long hours at the hospital as he waited for answers. In Part 2, “After,” Santlofer explores the relationship he had with Joy, offering tender slices and snippets of their 40-plus years together, moments of togetherness that he remembers with fondness and times when they argued that he wishes he could revisit and redo. His words carry with them the solemnity of death, love, and longing and a tinge of anger as he wrestles with the facts and struggles to determine what went wrong on that fateful day. Santlofer offers a man’s perspective on emotional topics, of feeling inadequate on multiple levels, of wanting to have been a better husband and his desire to be a better father to their only daughter. He shares his coping methods through the months of mourning, the ways he filled the emptiness brought on by Joy’s absence. In “Widower,” Part 3, Santlofer considers what it means to be a single man again, the social expectations placed on him by well-meaning friends, and his push to see his wife’s unfinished writing reach publication. Also included are beautiful line drawings the author did that helped fill the hours as he slowly moved from one day to one month to one year and more past the death of Joy.
An expressive and poetic tribute to a wife and a marriage that died without warning.