This elegy celebrates the last years of a happy marriage filled with travel, art, food, and ultimately illness and death. It is at once a travelogue, a record of the finest meals and museums Europe has to offer, a chronicle of family relationships during medical crises, and the story of how, after his wife's death in 1998, the author emerged from grief to enjoy life and travel once again.
Richard Collin and Rima Reck-self described "oddball academics"-shared a rich life. Books, ideas, gastronomy, and trips to the great European and American cultural centers suffused their twenty-eight year marriage. But the last six years were also marked by the overlapping illnesses of the author's parents and the uneven but eventually fatal decline of his wife's health. Collin records with wit and sympathy how he navigated medical bureaucracy and emotional calamity-and how the pleasures of travel provided some relief from grim hospital days.
The author and his wife had four trips planned at the time of her death. Against well-intended advice, Collin made the trips alone. In the process, he was able to grieve for Rima-both for the brilliant, beautiful woman she was through most of their marriage and for the series of gradually deteriorating versions of the original. He learned how to lead a new life as a man capable of enjoying things his wife loved (art and good food) while rediscovering passions of things she did not (opera and long walks).
This is a book about the pain of illness and death, but it is also about the joy of remembering those we have loved-and our surprising capacity to thrive after intense loss.