A memoir of a father, his family and their collective battle with his daughter’s cancer.
Schwartz is a father, husband and attorney experiencing spiritual galut, a Hebrew word meaning the search to gain understanding of one’s existence. His faith was tested when his 26-year-old daughter was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. A former production assistant on the CBS TV show How I Met Your Mother, Amy had found her dream career as a preschool teacher. Schwartz and his wife, Joanne, accompanied Amy to every appointment and test. As Amy’s health deteriorated, so did her mother’s. While being a caregiver for her daughter in her time of need, Joanne died one night of a heart attack. Schwartz was devastated, as was Amy, but they tried not to lose hope and instead continued with Amy’s treatments and medications. Eventually, Amy chose home hospice care, and the nurses told Schwartz her body was transitioning toward death. Even with Amy’s passing, Schwartz astoundingly kept his faith and followed the Jewish tradition of shiva, a weeklong mourning period after the dead are buried. The beginning chapters of Schwartz’s memoir recount the family’s history and their journey through galut, with an essaylike level of detail that’s compelling although separate in some ways from the heart of the story. The book then moves to his daughter’s battle with cancer, a story both heartbreaking and powerful. Though Schwartz’s poetry interspersed throughout the book doesn’t add much, a poignant excerpt from Amy’s diary about her time as an intern on MTV’s New Tom Green Show as the “gum girl”—she collected the audience’s gum in a jar, since chewing it was not allowed—showcases the optimistic person Amy was. An absorbing read, the heartrending memoir portrays the family’s tragic but compelling story without sentimentality but with Schwartz’s ample love for his family and a wish to help others.
A touching memoir of dealing with two losses.