Hannah's List

Hannah's List

3.9 407
by Debbie Macomber

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On the anniversary of his beloved wife's death, Dr. Michael Everett receives a letter Hannah had written him.

In it she reminds him of her love and makes one final request. An impossible request. I want you to marry again. She tells him he shouldn't spend the years he has left grieving—and she's chosen three women she asks him to


On the anniversary of his beloved wife's death, Dr. Michael Everett receives a letter Hannah had written him.

In it she reminds him of her love and makes one final request. An impossible request. I want you to marry again. She tells him he shouldn't spend the years he has left grieving—and she's chosen three women she asks him to consider.

First on Hannah's list is her cousin, Winter Adams, a chef who owns a café on Seattle's Blossom Street. The second is Leanne Lancaster, Hannah's oncology nurse. Michael knows them both. But the third name is one he's not familiar with—Macy Roth.

During the months that follow, he spends time with these three women, learning more about each of them…and about himself. Learning what Hannah already knew. He's a man who needs the completeness only love can offer. And Hannah's list leads him to the woman who can help him find it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Macomber (Summer on Blossom Street) delves into a Seattle widower's pursuit of love in her hopeful latest. Hannah Everett dies at 36 of ovarian cancer, leaving behind a letter for her pediatrician husband, Michael Everett, to be opened on the first-year anniversary of her death. In it, she suggests he consider one of three women as his next wife: her cousin, chef Winter Adams; Leanne Lancaster, Hannah's divorced oncology nurse; and Macy Roth, a ditzy, animal-loving artist. As Macomber reveals each woman and how they react to Michael's sometimes halfhearted pursuit, the strongest personality is Macy, so it shouldn't be surprising where things head. Macomber's tale of getting on with life is charming enough, though Hannah's cancer battle is glossed over, and the conceit of Michael considering marriage so soon is a little unrealistic. (May)

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A Blossom Street Novel , #7
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I am not a sentimental guy. I've been known to forget Mother's Day and, once, when Hannah and I were dating, I even let Valentine's go unnoticed. Fortunately she didn't take my lapse too seriously or see it as any reflection of my feelings. As for anniversaries and birthdays, I'm a lost cause. In fact, I'd probably overlook Christmas if it wasn't for all the hoopla. It's not that I'm self-absorbed… Well, maybe I am, but aren't we all to a certain extent?

To me, paying a lot of attention to people because it's their birthday or some made-up holiday is ridiculous. When you love someone, you need to show that love each and every day. Why wait for a certain time of year to bring your wife flowers? Action really does speak louder than words, especially if it's a loving deed, something you do for no particular reason. Except that you want to. Because you care.

Hannah taught me that. Hannah. A year ago today, May eighth, I lost her, my beautiful thirty-six-year-old wife. Even now, a whole year after her death, I can't think of her without my gut twisting into knots.

A year. Three hundred and sixty-five lonely days and empty nights.

A few days after her death, I stood over Hannah's casket and watched as it was lowered into the ground. I threw the first shovelful of dirt into her grave. I'll never forget that sound. The hollow sound of earth hitting the coffin's gleaming surface.

Not an hour passes that I don't remember Hannah. Actually, that's an improvement. In those first few months, I couldn't keep her out of my head for more than a minute. Everything I saw or heard reminded me of Hannah.

To simply say I loved her would diminish the depth of my feelings. In every way she completed me. Without her, my world is bleak and colorless and a thousand other adjectives that don't begin to describe the emptiness I've felt since she's been gone.

I talk to her constantly. I suppose I shouldn't tell people that. We've had this ongoing one-sided conversation from the moment she smiled up at me one last time and surrendered her spirit to God.

So, here I am a year later, pretending to enjoy the Seattle Mariners' baseball game when all I can think about is my wife. My one-year-dead wife.

Ritchie, Hannah's brother and my best friend, invited me to share box seats for this game. I'm not fooled. I'm well aware that my brother-in-law didn't include me out of some mistaken belief that I'm an inveterate baseball fan. He knows exactly what anniversary this is.

I might not be sentimental, but this is one day I can't forget.

As a physician, a pediatrician, I'm familiar with death. I've witnessed it far too often and it's never easy, especially with children. Even when the end is peaceful and serene as it was with Hannah, I feel I've been cheated, that I've lost.

As a teenager I was involved in sports. I played football in the fall, basketball in winter and baseball in the spring, and worked as a lifeguard during the summers. The competitive spirit is a natural part of who I am. I don't like to lose, and death, my adversary, doesn't play fair. Death took Hannah from me, from all of us, too early. She was the most vibrant, joyful, loving woman I have ever known. I've been floundering ever since.

Although I've fought death, my enemy, from the day I became a doctor—it's why I became a doctor—I learned to understand it in a different, more complex way. I learned death can be a friend even while it's the enemy. As she lay dying, Hannah, who loved me so completely and knew me so well, showed me that ultimate truth.

A year's time has given me the perspective to realize I did my wife a disservice. My biggest regret is that I refused to accept the fact that she was dying. As a result I held on to her far longer than I should have. I refused to relinquish her when she was ready to leave me. Selfishly, I couldn't bear to let her go.

Even when she'd drifted into unconsciousness I sat by her bedside night and day, unable to believe that there wouldn't be a miracle. It's stupid; as a medical professional I certainly know better. Yet I clung to her. Now I realize that my stubbornness, my unwillingness to release her to God, held back her spirit. Tied her to earth. To me.

When I recognized the futility of it all, when I saw what I was doing to Hannah's parents and to Ritchie, I knew I had to let her go. I left Hannah's room and got hold of myself. I hadn't slept in days, hadn't eaten. Nor had I shaved, which means I probably looked even more pathetic than I felt. I went back to our home, showered, forced down a bowl of soup and slept for three uninterrupted hours. When I returned, the immediate family had gathered around her bedside. Hannah's heart rate had slowed and it was only a matter of minutes. Then, just before she died, she opened her eyes, looked directly at me and smiled. I held her hand and raised it to my lips as she closed her eyes and was…gone.

That last smile will stay with me forever. Every night as I press my head against the pillow, the final image in my mind is Hannah's farewell smile.

"Hey, Michael. A beer?" Ritchie asked. He doesn't call me Mike; no one does. Even as a kid, I was never a Mike.

"Sure." My concentration wasn't on the game or on much of anything, really. Without glancing at the scoreboard I couldn't have told you who was ahead. I went through the motions, jumped to my feet whenever Ritchie did. I shouted and made noise along with the rest of the crowd, but I didn't care about the game. I hadn't cared about anything for a long time—except my work. That had become my salvation.

"How about dinner after the game?" Ritchie asked as he handed me a cold beer a few minutes later.

I hesitated. All that awaited me was an empty house and my memories of Hannah.

"Sure." I didn't have much of an appetite, though. I rarely did these days.

"Great." He took a long swig of beer and turned back to the field.

I hadn't done my brother-in-law any favors by agreeing to attend this game. These weren't cheap seats, either. Ritchie had paid big bucks for box seats behind home plate, and I'd basically ignored the entire game.

I should've made an excuse and let him take someone else. But I didn't want to be alone. Not today. Every other day of the year I was perfectly content with my own company. But not today.

The game must have been over because, almost before I was aware of it, people were leaving.

"Great game," I said, making the effort.

"We lost," Ritchie muttered.

I hadn't been paying enough attention to notice.

Ritchie slapped me on the back and headed out of the stadium. That was his way of telling me he understood.

Half an hour later we sat in a friendly sports bar not far from Safeco Field. I stared at the menu, wishing I could conjure up an appetite. Over the past year I'd lost nearly twenty pounds. Food was a necessity, and that was the only reason I bothered. I usually ate on the run, without interest or forethought. I needed something in my belly so I grabbed a protein bar or a vegetable drink. It served the purpose, although I derived no pleasure from it.

Hannah had been exceptionally talented in the kitchen, just like her cousin Winter Adams, who owned the French Cafe on Blossom Street. She loved experimenting with recipes and took pride in preparing meals. Hannah's dinner parties were legendary among our friends. As a hostess, she was a natural—charming and gracious.

"What are you thinking about?" Ritchie asked.

His question startled me until I saw that he was gazing at the menu. "Grilled salmon," I replied.

"I'm leaning toward the T-bone," he said.

I've always associated steaks with celebration, and this wasn't a day I'd consider celebrating. Long before I was willing to accept that Hannah had lost her battle with cancer, she'd told me that when she was gone, she didn't want me to grieve. She said her wake should be as much fun as her parties. At the time I didn't want to hear her talk about death. By then she'd resigned herself to the outcome; I hadn't found the courage to do so.

The waitress took our order, brought us each a beer and left. I held the amber bottle between my fingers and frowned at the table. I wished I was better company for Ritchie.

"It's been a year," my brother-in-law murmured. I nodded, acknowledging the comment, but not elaborating on it. "I miss her."

Again I nodded. As painful as it was to talk about Hannah, I had the burning desire to do exactly that. I wanted—no, needed—to hold on to her, if not physically, then emotionally.

"Hard to believe it's been twelve months." I heard the pain in my own voice but didn't try to hide it.

"You doing okay?" Ritchie asked.

I shrugged rather than tell the truth—I wasn't okay. I was damn mad. Still. How dared this happen to a woman as wonderful as Hannah. How dared it happen to me!

Hannah and I were married as soon as I graduated from medical school. We decided that my internship and residency would be too demanding to allow us to start a family right away. Hannah worked for a regional department-store chain as a buyer and loved her job. When I'd get home too exhausted to think, she'd entertain me with stories of the people she'd met. People whose names I soon forgot but whose foibles lived on. The smallest incident became a full-fledged anecdote, complete with wickedly funny observations. She had a way of making the most mundane details fascinating. If I close my eyes I can still hear her laugh. I can smile just recalling the early years of our marriage and the struggles we endured, the things we enjoyed. Memories sustained me that first year without Hannah.

The day I finished my residency and specialized training and was able to join a Seattle practice was the day Hannah threw away her birth control pills. We talked endlessly about our family. I love children and so did Hannah. She wanted three kids; I would've been satisfied with two. Hannah felt an odd number would be best, so I said yes to three.

But Hannah didn't get pregnant. We'd assumed it would be so easy. She worried constantly, and I was convinced the stress she felt was the real problem. After eighteen months she wanted to see a fertility specialist and I agreed. That was when we learned that getting Hannah pregnant was the very least of our concerns. Within a week of our first visit to the specialist, Hannah was diagnosed with stage-four ovarian cancer. By the time the discovery was made, it was too late to save her.

I couldn't help feeling I should have known, should have suspected that something wasn't right. As a medical professional, I blamed myself for the fact that Hannah went undiagnosed as long as she did. If I'd paid closer attention, I told myself, I might have picked up on the clues. I'd been busy, preoccupied with work. I had other things on my mind.

Friends have argued with me, friends like Patrick O'Malley, who's another pediatrician and one of my partners. They frequently reminded me—as did Hannah herself—that ovarian cancer is notoriously lacking in symptoms until it's too late. I knew all that. What I realized was that I needed to feel guilty, to punish myself; I think I felt better if I could blame myself for not noticing.

"Remember the night Steph and I had you and Hannah over for dinner?" Ritchie asked, breaking into my thoughts. "The last night?"

I nodded. It'd been a Friday evening, the final time we'd gone out as a couple. We'd received news that afternoon that had rocked our world. The latest test results had come in—and they showed that the chemo had done little to slow the progression of the disease.

Devastated, I'd wanted to cancel dinner, but Hannah insisted we go. She'd put on a bright smile and walked into her brother and sister-in-law's home as though nothing was wrong. I was an emotional mess and barely made it through the evening. Not Hannah. If I hadn't known, I would never have guessed.

"Yeah, I remember."

"She asked me to do something for her that night," Ritchie went on to say.

"Hannah did?" Unable to hide my surprise, I looked up from my beer.

Now Ritchie glanced away. "While you were playing a video game with Max, Hannah spoke with me privately."

I moved to the edge of my seat. The noise from the television blaring above the bar seemed to fade into the background. Every muscle in my body tensed, almost as if I knew what Ritchie was about to tell me.

"She said the doctors had delivered bad news."

I focused on an empty bar stool on the other side of the room. "I wanted to cancel dinner. Hannah wouldn't let me."

"She had a good reason for wanting to come that night," Ritchie explained. "She told me there wasn't any hope left and she'd accepted that she was going to die."

I wasn't in the mood to hear this. Ritchie exhaled loudly. "She wasn't afraid of dying, you know."

"Why should she be? Heaven was made for people like Hannah."

Ritchie nodded, agreeing with me. "She'd made her peace with God long before that night. She never had a fatalistic attitude. She wanted to live. More than anything, she wanted to live."

At one time I'd doubted that. "I begged her to let me take her to Europe because I'd read about an experimental treatment there. She wouldn't go."

"It was too late," Ritchie said simply. His hand tightened around the beer bottle. "She knew it even if we didn't."

That was Hannah—not only was she wise, but forever practical. While she was willing to accept the inevitable, I clung to every shred of hope. I spent hours studying medical journals, calling specialists, doing online research. But my crazed efforts to cure her didn't make any difference. In the end Hannah had been right; she'd reached the point of no return. She died less than two months later.

Even now I was shocked by how quickly she slipped away. It was the only time in our marriage that I became truly angry with her. I wanted Hannah to fight the cancer. I shouted and paced and slammed my fist against the wall. Gently she took my bleeding knuckles between her own hands and kissed away the pain. What she didn't seem to understand was that no amount of tenderness would ease the ache of her leaving me.

Meet the Author

Debbie Macomber, with more than 100 million copies of her books sold worldwide, is one of today's most popular authors. The #1 New York Times bestselling author is best known for her ability to create compelling characters and bring their stories to life in her books. Debbie is a regular resident on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times (70 times and counting), USA TODAY (currently 67 times) and Publishers Weekly (47 times). Visit her at www.DebbieMacomber.com.

Brief Biography

Port Orchard, Washington
Date of Birth:
October 22, 1948
Place of Birth:
Yakima, Washington
Graduated from high school in 1966; attended community college

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Hannah's List 3.9 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 407 reviews.
Jan123hello More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading the ARC this morning of Debbie Macombers' "Hannah's List" and enjoyed every moment reading this book. Most of this book is written in the first person of Dr. Michael Everett. I found reading a man's point of view throughout the story very refreshing. His late wife Hannah leaves him a "list" of 3 women she wants him to meet, one is Winter Adams ( a character from one of the Blossom Street books), the second is Leanne Lancaster (who was Hannah's oncology nurse), and the third woman is Macy Roth, a gal he never met, but only saw at a distance at his wife's funeral. I absolutely love Debbie Macombers' books. She is such a talented writer, and I wish her books in the Blossom Street series came out more than once a year! Thank you Debbie Macomber for this wonderful book, I could not put it down!
Justpeachy1 More than 1 year ago
My Synopsis: Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber It has been one year since Dr. Michael Everett's wife Hannah, died from cancer. He is still mourning her death when he is given a letter that Hannah left for him to be delivered a year after her death. The letter speaks of her love for her husband and that hope that he can move on with his life and find love again. Not only does Hannah want him to move on, but she has left a list of three women that she believes would make him happy and complete his life. Knowing that Michael would have trouble moving on, Hannah believed this letter would spur him on and let him know that she wanted him to have a wife and a family. Michael is stunned that Hannah could have loved him so much that she left this list before she died. But, can he move on? Is he ready to leave his love for Hannah behind? Which one of these women can help him find love again? A cousin of his wife's, a nurse who helped her through her last days or the whimsical and beautiful model? My Thoughts: Debbie Macomber is one of my favorite authors for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons is because her contemporary romances are rooted in events that are happening to real people in our day and time. Though I love historical romance, sometimes it's nice to read a book about characters that we can identify with and situations that could actually happen in our own lives. Very few people in this day and age have not been touched by cancer in some way. This novel is more about the struggle for those left behind, to go on with their lives and how difficult that can be sometimes. Michael's character is very poignant and touching. His love for Hannah was real and deep and him moving on seems almost like a sacrilege. But, he begins to realize that he still has a lot of love in his heart to give. He feels that he has a duty to Hannah to at least talk to the three women on the list but, as he begins to find out more about them he is confused as to why she chose each one. The women in the story have struggles of their own. In the end Michael finds the woman who he believes that ultimately he should spend the rest of his life with and he knows that Hannah would approve. This is a story that may sound a little sad, but it's not. It's about moving on and learning to love again after tragedy. I liked it a lot and I know you will too.
Renee90 More than 1 year ago
Hannah's List ranks up there with the best of the best by Debbie Macomber. I really enjoyed reading this book! It was such a unique love story ~ the plot was intriguing and held me captive till the end. In true Debbie Macomber fashion, her characters were very realistic and I cried and laughed with each of them throughout the whole story. All I can say is.... Read this book ~ you will really, really enjoy it! Many thanks to Kim M. from Nancy Berland Public Relations, Inc for allowing me the wonderful opportunity of review this book!
hannahprescott More than 1 year ago
Thirty-six year old Hannah Everett dies from ovarian cancer after a long, painful battle. She leaves behind a letter to her beloved pediatrician husband, Michael, that he is to open one year after her death. (P.S. I LOVE YOU) Thus begins his struggle, on the road to realize that life needs to go on after loss and that you can find happiness again. A lovely heartwarming story! I loved it...(and P.S. I LOVE YOU TOO!!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book will pull at your heart strings the moment you read the first page. It's refreshing to read a love story through the eyes of a loving, devoted husband. You will instantly fall in love with Dr. Michael Everett and will be cheering him on and shedding a few tears during his road to recovery. You will surely not want to put this book down!
taxdeva More than 1 year ago
Currently still reading but loving every page
mrdarcy3 More than 1 year ago
Hannah died last year, but she left her husband a letter to be opened on the anniversary of her death. He opens it to find an expression of love and something he never thought he'd find - a list of three women Hannah wants him to date. She wants him to move on and knows that this past year, he's been going through the motions, but not really living. She knows him well. He's extremely reluctant to follow her advice. The first woman on the list is her cousin who owns a cafe on Blossom Street. He wanders into the cafe on morning for coffee. She isn't there, but he leaves a message at the counter. The next woman is a nurse who made Hannah's last days comfortable. Michael speaks with her at a hospital children's picnic. She's recently divorced herself and understand what he's going through. They agree to dinner later in the week. The third woman he calls cold, asking her to come into to paint a mural on the wall at his office. When she arrives late, he remembers her from the funeral. Everything about this woman annoys him and he can't understand how she made Hannah's List. He hires her and now must deal with seeing her in his office until she completes her project. Will one of these women help him come out of his shell and bring him back to life? I adore the Blossom Street series. They're adorable and heartwarming. I can't decide which one I like best. This one was amazing as well. I was a little shocked to see this book written in majority from a male perspective, but it works.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Seattle thirty-six year old Hannah Everett dies from ovarian cancer after a long battle. She leaves behind a letter to her beloved pediatrician husband, Michael that he is to open one year after her death. On the first anniversary of Hannah's death, Michael reads her note to him. She pleads with him to get on with his life as he has grieved long enough. She wants him to actively seek a new wife. Hannah suggests he consider three candidates for his second spouse: her cousin Chef Winter Adams; her oncologist nurse Leanne Lancaster or eccentric artist Macy Roth. Michael goes out with each of the women but each quickly recognizes that his heart is buried with his late spouse. Although some readers will question how fast Michael acts on his beloved deceased wife's final request, fans will enjoy this strong look at grieving as the lead protagonist tries to move on as his spouse requested with the three women she suggested. Michael is fully developed so that the audience understands his concerns and fears while Hannah is only seen through his eyes and the letter. The tree candidates are developed to different degrees, which makes it easy to know the ending relatively early on. Michael hooks the readers throughout as he struggles with choosing from Hannah's List because he is unsure if he can. Harriet Klausner
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I'm loving it so far :) keep goin'... *gentle shove*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a complete letdown.  The story was not believable by any stretch of the imagination.  Too bad it's part of the Blossom Street series.  It could stand alone.  If a fan of the series chose to skip this one, I don't believe you would miss anything.  I wish I had skipped it.
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Wake up!!
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ddwodruff More than 1 year ago
I have read most of the Blossom Street books. I like them all. They inspired my to learn how to knit. I love that too!
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Boneyard More than 1 year ago
This is a simple, but sweet love story. I enjoyed the contrast between the women and I especially liked that the writer left things to the imagination. I now feel that I want to read other books by Macomber.