“I wish it were me, I just wish it were me,” she said, and I put my arm around her and pulled her closer, and she rested her head on my shoulder and we stood like that, her tears wet on my shirt listening to the sounds of the city, the sounds of other people’s worlds.
I, too, carried Jack in my heart. This novel is a lump in the throat story about the love between Rob and his wife Anna, the passion that lead up to their relationship and the creation of their beautiful son Jack. Deeply in love, through hope and losses, just when the world seems perfect a devastating diagnosis turns their world to dust.
Friends rally around the couple, every one has advice, knows of similar cases that turned out just fine. But for Rob, the life he felt blessed passes through his fingers, and he is alone photographing all the places he and his son visited, dousing himself with memories from the time when everything was as it should be. His son and wife are no longer with him, though he longs for them to the very marrow of his bones. Slowly, we learn why he unraveled, where the bitterness and resentment towards his beloved Anna was born.
It is a raw look at the blame we feel through tragedy, shame and guilt towards ourselves and our loved ones. Someone has to shoulder the blame of unbearable loss, who better than the one who prevented the miracle. How can a man stomach the person he blames everything on? It is the dangerous lengths we will go to in the name of hope, salvation for our loved one.
The hardest part of the novel is when Rob believes he has found a cure for Jack, and everything that happens after. It evoked so many emotions hope, fear, anger and shock. There is betrayal, and the reader is as lost as both Anna and Rob. As we slowly witness Jack’s decline, everything seems to get worse and worse, and there is a breach in the love Anna and Rob shared. We, just like Rob, think we know who is to blame.
Sometimes, a father collapses and he feels just as much pain as a mother, but its not often written about. This is every parent’s nightmare, it’s painful just reading about another family suffering through their child’s illness, fictional or not. There is a rupture in Anna and Rob’s world, and they are both displaced, they lose each other. Can they ever overcome what they’ve done to each other, be a family again? What about the rest of the world, and all it’s promises? How soon we realize what’s important, who is really true in our lives. But who do you trust when you are desperate, when everything has failed, you find you will do anything, try anything to save a life!
This is a weeper. I felt deeply connected to Rob and understood everything he did, even in the blindness of his hope and the poison of his grief. It is the father, just as much as the mother, who bonds with his son. It is a cruelty that the world seems to believe only a mother can be deeply connected to their child. Time to pick my heart up off the ground.