In Hans Selye’s original groundbreaking work, “The Stress of Life,” there is a list that compares the degree of stress typical in various situations. At the very top of that list is the death of a spouse. The author of “Je T’aime” (“I love you” in French) was well-versed in the field of loss and recovery, but all her training and experience could not have prepared her for the moment when her beloved husband of 30 years died in her arms. She writes: “Grief—I had studied it, attended grief seminars, and had become very familiar with the stages one must go through to find solace and peace. In my profession, I had often helped terminally ill patients die a more peaceful death while helping families through their grief. I thought I knew my stuff. Then Johnny died….” Though highly educated and experienced in helping others find their way through and beyond grief, the author became a reluctant student at the University of Pain where she experienced the intersection of the temporal and eternal for much, much longer than she had expected or anyone had predicted. “I often hear friends talking almost casually about their deceased spouse,” she writes, “and I find myself asking myself: ‘How long will it take you?’ with the certainty that that day will never come. How can it? My best friend and soulmate has passed on. It takes all the energy I can muster to continue living. Joy has become a welcomed companion at brief intervals, but I am still at the stage where the pain gets unbearable at times and tears flow at the most unexpected places. This is what I am living, and again, I wouldn’t change a thing.” This book is an uncommon testament to an uncommon love. Brace yourself. You have never read another book like it in intensity and truth. Though some less schooled in the stark realities of grief may find this level-headed woman’s description of what actually happened after Johnny’s death worthy of critique, she took that risk in letting us all inside, for this, indeed, was a book that refused not to be written. “I am fully aware that most of what I have lived with Johnny following his death cannot be explained with the rational mind. Nevertheless, I know with certainty that I could not, of my own will, have created these experiences. This I have lived. This is how my healing came, and I am grateful for all of it.” This “diary” of sorts will find its place among the most treasured of the books in your library. And you will, from time to time, be tempted to loan it to others who are trying to find their own way through the more or less uncharted wilderness of heartbreak to a joy that can heal their pain and mend their heart. But then, as you start to reach for your own copy you will realize that what your own friend needs is to have her own copy so she can absorb its truths and discuss them with you.