Saturday, June 4, 2011
Oh, where to start.
It's not a surprise that I would buy and appreciate this book, as I have been a follower of Matt's blog for quite some time now. In fact, I blogged about him way back when.
It's likely that many of you know the basis of his story. After a complicated pregnancy, his wife, Liz, gave birth to their daughter, Madeline. Although she was premature, she was healthy, and their ordeal appeared to be over. But then, just 27 hours after Madeline's birth, Liz suddenly died of a pulmonary embolism. She never even held the daughter that her body had worked so hard for. Obviously devastated, Matt was left to pick up the pieces and care for newborn Madeline as a single dad. A tragic tale, to say the least... and this is real life.
In Two Kisses for Maddy, Matt tells his story--beginning with how he met Liz, and a brief account of their relationship, marriage, and pregnancy. After the unthinkable happens, the remainder of the book focuses on the aftermath, and how Maddy is the life preserver that keeps Matt's head above water. In short, you're reading how they survived their first year without Liz.
The book itself is a nice departure from Matt's fragmented style of writing on his blog. Although most of the story was not new to me, it was nice to be able to read it in a beginning-to-end format. For me, the best part about reading it was feeling like I got to know a little more about Liz. Through all of Matt's blog posts, there have been bits and pieces describing who Liz was, but never before have all of those pieces come together like they did in this book. I got a kick out of learning that she regularly cursed like a sailor (I've been known to drop a few f-bombs in everyday life). It was nice to read more details about Matt and Liz's beginning--how they met at a gas station, and how they spent most of their dating years doing the long-distance thing.
Of course, being able to imagine who Liz was as a person also makes losing her that much more difficult on the reader. It's easier to imagine the devastation of that loss for Matt, Maddy, and all of their family. Just because I knew the story didn't make her death any easier to read about, although I kept it together fairly well... until the chapter about her funeral, that is. Holy moly.
Now that I have a baby girl of my own, I feel like the story affects me in an entirely different way. It's not to say that I couldn't sympathize before, and it's not that I couldn't feel sad for Matt, and for Maddy. But now that I have Nora, I found myself thinking even more about the things that Liz never got to do or see.
This story, like many others, makes you realize how fragile life is. It's cliche, but the lesson is to not take life for granted. I never even imagined that I could go into the hospital to have my baby and not come back out. Neither did Liz. Are we supposed to live in fear of the worst possible things happening to us? I don't think so. But should we be tremendously grateful and be sure to appreciate it when we're blessed with good outcomes? Yes, we should probably try.
A happy book? No. But many of the good ones never are. In the end, it's exactly what the book claims to be--"A memoir of loss and love."