In Love:  A Memoir of Love and Loss by Amy Bloom 2022

This is an important and wonderful book that should be read by just about everyone of a certain age.

Bloom was a successful, best-selling, award-nominated author living the dream outside New Haven, CT with her husband of 15 years, the Yale football star, architect,  and much loved Brian Ameche.  (For those of you into sports trivia, you will recall his father, Alan Ameche who won the Heisman Trophy at Wisconsin in 1954 and played for the Baltimore Colts for six years.)  They had been married to others in their small CT town when they fell in love, divorced, married, and were living happily when Amy began to notice that Brian was becoming forgetful, distracted, and occasionally confused.  The fear of dementia became a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease after a visit to a neurologist and an MRI.  Brian, at age 65, was very clear and firm in his determination to die on his own terms and while still capable of making decisions and taking charge.   While other wives might have spent time trying to convince their husband that ‘research may find a cure’, ‘there will be some good days ahead’, ‘please stay as long as possible’, Bloom eschewed those false hopes and respecting Brian’s wishes,  launched a determined effort to accommodate Brian’s very clear and firm wish to die on his own terms.

Dealing with the very specific and limiting conditions of the Right to Die laws in 10 US states where one has to prove that they have a fatal illness that will kill them within 6 months , it became clear that these were not realistic alternatives, so help was sought from a Swiss entity, Dignitas that provides ‘accompanied suicide’ under, again, very specific and limited conditions.

Bloom’s tale of how she and Brian navigated this treacherous path between the time of his definitive diagnosis and his death in Zurich makes for a moving, sad, and ultimately humane and human story.  She writes with skill, brutal honesty, and a sense of humor and the absurd.  Through the device of moving back and forth from their time in Zurich to the events of the prior years as Brian’s condition deteriorated, she keeps the reader engaged and leaning forward to hear more.  I was disappointed that  she had little good to say about nearly all of the medical providers.

Sad but finally life-affirming, this is an important and well-crafted book that should be read along with Gawande’s ‘Being Mortal’ by all of us moving towards or already deeply embedded in our “Golden Years”.  As my 100 year old  mother used to tell me, “Whoever called these the golden years, should be shot.”