There's no happy ending to Making Toast: A Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt. And, it's a book that made me cry so that I had to stop wearing my reading glasses while halfway through. But, it's life, and it's death, and it really says we go on after death, one piece of toast at a time.
Amy Elizabeth Rosenblatt Solomon died on December 8, 2007. She was only 38. She was a physician, but, even more important, she was a wife, a mother of three, and a daughter. Roger and Ginny Rosenblatt, Amy's parents, moved in with her husband, Harris, and the three children as they tried to make life as normal as possible for the children. And, Roger's household duty, that he mastered, was making toast.
Alice McDermott was speaking of a book when she said to Roger, "The greatest tragedy that a couple could face is the loss of a child." And, each day, an angry Roger faced the loss of a wonderful young woman. As much as they mourned her death, they were forced to celebrate her life as well, to help her own children live their lives. The nanny for the children told them, "You are not the first to go through such a thing, and you are better able to handle it than most."
Roger Rosenblatt offers no platitudes for going on. He's angry at God. He knows life goes on. And he acknowledges, "We will never feel right again." At the same time, he and his wife and his son-in-law are showing the three children that they are loved and valued, and life does move on.
Every day, Roger and Ginny Rosenblatt, and Harris Solomon, participate in the lives of the three children, Jessica, Sammy, and James. They take them to school, sporting events, parties, play dates. They get them dressed, take them for special outings, celebrate family occasions. And, they do it all without Amy Rosenblatt Solomon's presence. They just try to allow the children to lead normal lives, despite the pain all of the adults are feeling.
My husband, Jim, died four months ago today. Roger Rosenblatt's story is not a wonderful, or even unique, story. It's just about life. And, it's about acknowledging that sometimes, you just cope with death. You cope with death one step at time, one day at a time. Sometimes, it's just by Making Toast.
Making Toast: A Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt. HarperCollins, ©2010. ISBN 9780061825934 (hardcover), 166p.
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