Book Reviews

Widowish: A Memoir, by Melissa Gould

WIDOWISH: A MEMOIR by Melissa Gould

Theirs was the quintessential love story. Melissa and her husband, Joel, met in the lobby of Atlantic Records, which was located on Los Angeles famous Sunset Strip. They bounded over their love of music, which in turn fostered a magnificent and outsized love and dedication to and for each other. Melissa’s career flourished as she became an award-winning screenwriter, whose credits include Bill Nye the Science Guy, Beverly Hills 90210, Party of Five and Lizzie McGuire, to name a few.

The couple had been married close to ten years when Joel suddenly began having trouble with his legs. A sports and fitness fan, Joel came home early one night from his weekly basketball game and told Melissa:

“My legs. They’re not working.”

Life became a journey of medical challenges when Joel was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. (MS) But after several work-arounds and accommodations, life continued on in a somewhat manageable fashion for the couple and their daughter, Sophie. That is, until the night Joel got up from their kitchen table and collapsed onto the floor.

“Like the Tin Man in need of oil, he made it to our bedroom. I didn’t follow. I knew he didnt’ want me to.”

Two months after family and friends celebrated Joel’s 50th birthday, Melissa had to rush Joel to the local emergency department, which began his downward spiral.

No matter what health challenges any of us might be currently dealing with, I can promise you one thing — by the time you’ve read through the first few chapters of Widowish  — you will be grateful for what is.

After Joel’s condition changed from “critically ill to gravely ill” and with his prognosis looking less than positive, Melissa went into a complete tail spin as to what to think or what to pray for.

“I didn’t know what I was praying for anymore. Joel’s recovery? To what end? Joel was tired of living with MS. He was worried and living in fear of losing his dignity. I wanted him whole. I wanted him as I had always known him  — vibrant, alive, healthy.”


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Melissa Gould

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Melissa’s recouting of her and Sophie’s journey after Joel’s death is poignant, raw, courageous, and hopeful, as she weaves her story from there to here.

As she deals with her loss, grief, guilt and eventual return to a life of purpose and intent, Melissa examines what a widow looks like — a tragedy that happened to her a mere four days after her 46th birthday — so that readers experiencing the same kinds of situations can understand that tragedy and loss can happen at any age, and that it is possible to come back from it.

At the end of Widowish, Melissa paints a picture of the group of widows that she belongs to, who come together to support and uplift one another.

“No one ‘looks’ widowish.” If we wear black it’s because it’s on trend. You don’t see any gray hair because we color it.  We are in this surreal club because of cancer, because of failing hearts, because of brain tumors, because of tragedy.”

Widowish: A Memoir is a book of hope and solace as well as a testament to the all-encompassing power of love, one that is sustained long after the person is no longer with us.

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