An author of self-help books discovers that the easy solutions he gives others are of little help in resolving Big Life Issues.
Eric Newborn—yes, the name is symbolic—writes books on “Everyday Miracles” and gives cheery pep talks at Celebrate Life conferences, dispensing nostrums such as, “We really do get what we’re thinking about” and “Every one of you has the potential to heal. You are all miracle workers.” But he finds it difficult to take his own advice when his beloved wife dies. He winds up living a reclusive life on Martha’s Vineyard, his days filled with memories both of his wife and of his childhood—filled with magic, wonder and fear—in Queens, and he walks his dog, Ralph. One day, a woman named Sam has a car accident near Eric’s home, and he does what he can to aid her, all the while hiding his identity. And then Eric himself has an accident, and Sam in turn nurses him. She finds out who he is—Sam’s a big fan, and neither one truly believes in what seem to be random and capricious life events. (In fact, Eric’s last book is There Are No Accidents.) Eric allows himself to engage in a series of deep memories about life with his wife, their inability to conceive and the couple’s eventually becoming foster parents. He also allows himself to imagine alternative endings to their life together, the “might-have-beens” that could have structured their future.
Eric’s poignant loss reminds us all of the fragility of relationships and of the hard truths we find difficult to face.