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Two Kisses for Maddy: A widow reviews Matt Logelin's memoir

Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love, the new memoir by our friend (and Widowed Village member), Matt Logelin, stands out among the passel of recent books by widowed people about their experiences. With a combination of grace and profanity, Logelin shares his life and love leading up to the death of his beautiful wife, just a day after delivering their daughter, Maddy, and his path upwards as a father and as a man since then.

Readers of Logelin's blog are familiar with his "story" (uh, we used to call it a "life?") but will be happy to find the book not only original, but as heartfelt and black-humorous as his other writings. It's meaty without being gloomy at all.

Logelin says he's no writer, and the first piece he wrote with any emotional content at all was about Liz, just after her death. But Two Kisses for Maddy is both candid and well crafted. In addition to sharing with us his taste in music (which he admits runs to the moribund), the author knows which details to include to illustrate the paradoxes and wonders of his experience as a young widower and Dad. He's an easy-going, frank person, and readers will enjoy getting to know him in these pages.

While I expect most reviewers will spend their emotional energy on Matt's "story," Widowed Village members won't see the novelty in a young widowed parent trying to get by -- but there is plenty for this tough audience to enjoy in Matt's honest memoir.

For me, the most vivid images in the book are those of communities that built around him and those he discovered. His family and Liz's, a lifetime's worth of close friends, an army of well-loved acquaintances, get together with blog readers and complete strangers (which he calls "strangers friends") in coffee shops and record stores, surround him with love and support in a way most grieving parents would envy. You sense that the world around him has accepted
and adjusted to the new life he and Maddy have. And he shares how meeting widowed friends in blogs helped him feel less alone at the darkest times.

Logelin's "story" (uh oh, that word again!) aroused tremendous interest in the civilian world, and he and Maddy were
showered with gifts, including many from blog readers. This unexpected generosity moved Logelin to start a foundation in Liz's honor, which is the only one of its kind in the country. To date, the Liz Logelin Foundation has made more than 72 no-strings-attached financial gifts to young widowed parents -- an amazing accomplishment that surely helps make our cause more visible to America and demonstrates its value to these young families.

Logelin is inspired, every day, even every terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (and he shares vivid images of those days), by his daughter's needs. Numb after witnessing death, Logelin is awake enough to be terrified that he is now solely responsible for her future: "Fucking up," he says, "was not an option." Loss gives Logelin not only a bigger job than most parents, but also the fierce determination to not manifest the "bumbling Dad" archetype. He's doting and competent, appreciative, intent, and his musical taste is being passed on in spite of (or perhaps thanks to?) DJ Lance and Brobee.

On a shelf with dozens of navel-gazing tomes about grief, Logelin's is that rare memoir that illustrates and illuminates a young but deep life. Two Kisses for Maddy is smart, sweet, and full of heart. I recommend
it for widowed people and civilians alike.

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