Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Two Kisses for Maddy"

In July 2008, I came across Matt Logelin's blog late one night while I was up surfing the web and trying to fight off pregnancy-related heartburn. His daughter Madeline had been born a few months earlier on March 24th. She was seven weeks premature, delivered by c-section, and taken directly to the NICU. His wife Liz died 27 hours later on March 25th of a pulmonary embolism as she was preparing to get to go visit Maddy in the NICU for the very first time. She only got to see her daughter once, fleetingly, and never got to hold her.

Reading back through old blog entries and catching up on Matt's journey since Liz's death, I was incredibly moved by the way he wrote about his wife and the amazing love and heart-wrenching grief that emanated from every word he wrote. I was also touched by his love for Maddy and how hard he was focusing on being the best father for her and some of the unexpected challenges he faced as a widowed dad, especially when confronted by strangers asking where Maddy's mom was or questioning why a seemingly single man was out with a baby.

As a pregnant woman about 40-50 days out from my due date, the circumstances of Liz's death scared the crap out of me and compelled me to have a conversation with my husband about what I would want if I died in or after childbirth--what I'd want him to give my daughter for me, what I'd want him to tell her about me, how I hoped he would raise her, and how I hoped he would keep my parents an important part of her life. As you can imagine, this kind of freaked J out, so I had to explain about Matt's blog and Liz's story.

I have faithfully read Matt's blog ever since, always touched by his remembrances and stories about Liz, who sounds like someone I'd have liked to know-just a very cool, fun chick. As a new mom to S, I learned from some of Matt's fatherhood experiences--mistakes he made (forgetting a bottle during a trip to a baseball game), triumphs he had (how to deal with too-large baby pants--snap the onesie over them!). I was excited when Matt got a book deal and moved to India to work on the book and show Madeline all the places he visited with her mom when she was alive, including the Taj Mahal and the spot he proposed to her.

Matt's book, Two Kisses for Maddy, came out on Thursday, April 14th. I picked up my copy yesterday and read it straight through in three hours. As I expected from reading Matt's blog, the book is an amazing love letter to Liz and to Madeline. And though I knew how it was going to go, when Liz goes into distress in the book, I started crying so hard, wishing she would pull through. Although Matt always seemed to lay his soul bare on his blog, in the book he goes deeper into the aftermath of her death and his grief than ever before. He also shares more about his life with Liz before Maddy's birth.

It's a beautiful, compelling love story. I know Matt wishes he never had reason to write the book, and I wish he didn't either, but I can't help but think what an amazing gift the book is to Madeline. Through the book, she'll get to know her mother. She'll also get to know how much her father loved her mother, and loved her, right from the moment she was born. In pictures, Maddy looks so much like her mom and in the last chapter of the book, which is a letter to Maddy, Matt lists the ways she acts just like her mother too.

As I've watched Maddy grow up in pictures on Matt's blog and watched my own little blond-haired, blue-eyed daughter grow up a few months behind her, I've just felt so much for Liz and for Maddy and for Matt. It's so unfair Liz didn't get to stay here with them. It's unfair Maddy has to grow up without her. It's unfair Matt lost the love of his life. But life isn't fair, and Matt has navigated through his grief admirably, thinking of others as well as himself--Liz's family and friends, and other widowers in need--he helped create the Liz Logelin Foundation to help others in his situation, which alone would've been a major testament to his love for his wife. He's also created and experienced moments of happiness for himself and Maddy from the earliest days of her life. And he continues to do so today. I'm sure, somewhere, Liz is amazed and proud.

I highly recommend Two Kisses for Maddy. Just make sure you happen to have some tissues at the ready.

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