In October 2004 Thelma Zirkelbach’s husband was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia and began a journey from which he would not return. As he fought cancer, she battled her own demons: fears of loss and loneliness and the absolute certainty she could not survive without him. But she did survive to record their final year together with all its anger, beauty and pain. An interfaith couple, their different ways of dealing with death added more tension to an already dark year; yet they stumbled along together and after his death she trudged along on her own. Early in her widowhood she discovered a Yiddish proverb that translates to, “When one must, one can.” She resolved to make that her mantra and to strive to fulfill the prediction her husband made shortly before he died: “You’ll be all right. You’ll do something good.”
How did you come up with the title for your book? Does it have any special meaning?
I used the title because it described how I felt the year of my husband’s illness. I think that most people in that situation feel the same way.
What was the hardest part of this book to write/research?
The hardest part of the book to write was the scene of my husband’s last visit with our granddaughter. At the end of the visit he took a last look at her and said, “I hope she’ll remember me.” Even now I cry when I reread it.
Does your book have any underlying theme, message, or moral?
I think the underlying message is that no matter how dark the journey, you can get through it because you have to. No matter how great the loss, you can survive.
What would/could a reader or reviewer say about this book that shows they “get” you as an author?
Readers/reviewers would say this is an honest memoir, written from the heart. The author shares her fears and flaws and her husband’s as well. We also see her growth. This book will inspire readers who may be undertaking a similar journey or who will in the future.
Give us an excerpted quote from your favorite review of this book:
“With unflinching honesty, keen intelligence, compassion, courage and a wide-open heart, Zirkelbach recounts the wrenching last months of a happy marriage and shows us the meaning of ’til death do us part.”
Where can people learn more about your writing?