Funny, heartbreaking & honest memoir

A Three Dog Life - Abigail Thomas

Opening Line: “This is the one thing that stays the same: my husband got hurt. Everything else changes.”

Stephen King is quoted (on the cover) of this book as saying “The best memoir I have ever read.” Well I wouldn’t go that far but this was pretty good; honest, moving, funny heartbreaking and literary –the author is a writing teacher, so yeah. Oh and then there are the three dogs and her observations on them, (which are brilliant) and the main reason I decided to read this.

Abigail Thomas lives with her husband Richard in a cosy house with pretty furniture. She has children and grandchildren, and her telephone rings often. She likes to knit and is useless at gardening. Richard takes care of that. Richard also takes the dog for its evening walk. One night the dog comes home and Richard doesn’t. The doorman phones from the lobby, your dog is in the elevator, you better come and get him. Where is my husband? Richard has been hit by a car, his skull shattered; his brain severely damaged, their dreams of old age on the front porch with the comfort of each other taken from them in an instant.

Abigail’s memoir is about the following 5 years after the accident as she slowly puts her life back together, collects a couple more dogs and learns to deal with the twists and turns it has thrown at her. Richard is now in a nursing facility, he won’t be getting any better, he lives in the eternal present with no future, no past no 5 minutes ago, subject to rages, terrors and hallucinations this is the only constant in Abigail’s life as she moves forward.

“Richard and I don’t have the normal ups and downs of marriage. I don’t get impatient. He doesn’t have to figure out what to do with his retirement. I don’t watch him go through holidays with the sorrow of missing his absent children. Last week we were walking down the hall to his room, it was November, we had spent the afternoon together. “If I wasn’t with you and we weren’t getting food, the dark would envelope my soul.” he said cheerfully. He never knows I’m leaving until I go.”

This memoir is both sad and laugh-out-loud funny which is an incredible combination to achieve. I also found myself constantly highlighting meaningful quotes or reading parts out loud to whomever would listen which often included my dogs :) Cheers