The Life Intendedby Kristin Harmel
Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You in this richly told novel from the author of The Sweetness of Forgetting about the struggle to overcome the past when our memories refuse to be forgotten.
After her husband’s sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she&/i>/i>/i>
Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You in this richly told novel from the author of The Sweetness of Forgetting about the struggle to overcome the past when our memories refuse to be forgotten.
After her husband’s sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she’s planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn’t she more excited?
At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she’s really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband’s hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.
—New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin
“Kristin Harmel...[is] one of my favorite authors!”
–Melissa Senate, bestselling author of The Love Goddess’ Cooking School
Twelve years after losing her husband Patrick in a drunk-driving accident, Kate Waithman is ready to move on and get remarried. Or is she? She still feels stuck in the past and the feeling worsens as she begins to have realistic dreams of the life she would be living if her husband hadn't died. At first Kate is obsessed with the dreams, which scares both herself and her friends and family. Eventually she admits the visions are just her imagination even though the connections to reality are hard to ignore. These connections lead her to believe the reveries are messages from Patrick. Trying to decipher her dreams as she searches for a better life, Kate learns sign language, helps kids in the foster-care system, and explores adoption. These radical changes compel her to stop looking back and start moving forward. Harmel (The Sweetness of Forgetting) hooks the reader from the start with this evocative novel and creates a believable world and despite some predictability, offers enough unexpected events to build to a satisfying conclusion. VERDICT Recommended, especially for fans of Cecelia Ahern's PS, I Love You.—Amy Stenftenagel, Washington Cty. Lib., Woodbury, MN
Harmel (The Sweetness of Forgetting, 2013, etc.) takes on relationships, family and loss.Twelve years ago, Kate Waithman's husband, Patrick, died suddenly in a car accident. Now 40, Kate has never truly recovered, but she has managed to make a decent life for herself. She's an established music therapist for children, she has the emotional support of a best friend and a close sister, and she's even poised to move on romantically, accepting a proposal from her good-on-paper boyfriend, Dan. But the night of their engagement, Kate has a dream about Patrick so vivid and uncanny that it's clear—at least to her—that she's experiencing the life she would have led had Patrick lived. Subsequent dreams introduce her to a daughter, a lovely, deaf piano prodigy named Hannah. Suspecting that Hannah may exist in real life, Kate compulsively begins to search for clues, signing up for a class in American Sign Language, volunteering with deaf foster children and throwing her existing life into turmoil. Dan is less than understanding, though she tells him little. Her other loved ones question her choices as well as her sanity, and Kate is torn. Have the dreams awakened her long-dormant gut instincts, her desire for a more robust happiness? Or is she simply too eager to exchange the normalcy of the present for the glow of the past? After a loss like hers, how much should be thrown away and how much kept in the rebuilding? Tensions around these questions add to the mystery of the dreams themselves to make for an absorbing read. Though elements of the plot are predictable and the prose is unadorned, this book is well-paced and warmhearted.
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Read an Excerpt
The Life Intended
It was 11:04 when Patrick walked through the door that final night almost a dozen years ago.
I remember the numbers glowing red and angry on the digital clock by our bed, the sound of his key turning in the lock. I remember his sheepish expression, the way his five o’clock shadow had bloomed into an almost-beard, the way his shirt looked rumpled as he stood in the doorway. I remember the way he said my name, Kate, like it was an apology and a greeting all in one.
I’d been listening to Sister Hazel’s Fortress, my favorite album at the time, as I waited for him to come home. “Champagne High,” the fourth track on the CD, was playing, and just before he walked in, I was mouthing the lyrics, thinking to myself how “the million hours that we were” was such a poetic way to describe a life together.
Patrick and I were just four months into our marriage, and I couldn’t imagine a day when we’d no longer be with each other. I was twenty-eight then, Patrick twenty-nine, and the years seemed to stretch before us into an endless horizon. I remember reflecting that a million hours—just over a hundred years—didn’t sound like enough time.
But as it turned out, our hours together were almost up. The number that defined us in the end was only fifteen thousand and nine.
That was the number of hours that had passed since we’d met at a New Year’s Eve party on the last night of 2000, the number of hours we’d spent knowing we’d found our soul mates, the number of hours we’d spent thinking we had it all. But fifteen thousand and nine isn’t even close to a million.
“Honey, I am so, so sorry.” Patrick was all apologies as he fumbled his way into the bedroom, where I sat on top of our comforter, knees pulled up to my chest, checking my watch pointedly. The relief that he was home safely was being quickly supplanted by annoyance for making me worry.
“You didn’t call.” I knew I sounded petulant, but I didn’t care. We had made each other a promise the year before, after my uncle had been killed in a hunting accident, that we’d always make an effort to let each other know when we were going to be late. My aunt had been blissfully unaware of her husband’s death for nearly twenty hours, which had horrified Patrick and me.
“I just got caught up in something,” Patrick said, averting his gaze. His thick black hair was mussed and his green eyes were full of concern when he finally looked back at me.
I glanced at the phone on our bedside table, the phone that had been silent all night. “You were stuck at the office?” I asked. It wouldn’t have been the first time. Patrick was a risk management consultant for a firm in Midtown. He was young, hungry, one of those people who would always pitch in if there was extra work to be done. I loved that about him.
“No, Katielee,” he said, using the affectionate nickname he’d been calling me since the night we met, when he’d mistaken my maiden name, Kate Beale, as I shouted it above the din of the crowd. “My beautiful Katielee,” he murmured as he crossed the room and sat down beside me on the bed. The back of his right hand grazed my left thigh, and I slowly unfolded my legs, melting into him. He inched toward me and wrapped his arm around my shoulders. He smelled like cologne and smoke. “I was with Candice,” he said into my hair. “She had something important she needed to tell me.”
I pulled away from him and scrambled out of bed. “Candice? You were with Candice? Until eleven?”
Candice Belazar was the girl he’d dated just before me, a bartender at a smoky dive in Midtown. It had been a short-term fling and they’d broken up two months before we met, but she’d been a thorn in my side as long as I’d known him. “It was just a physical thing,” he’d tried to explain the first time he told me about her. “I was in a rut, and she was there. I got out of it as soon as I realized how wrong we were for each other.” But that hadn’t been much comfort.
We’d run into Candice once at a restaurant in Little Italy, and having a face to put with the name only made things worse. She was several inches taller than me, with huge, obviously fake breasts, stringy bleached blond hair, and hollow eyes. She had smirked as she looked me up and down, and I’d heard her stage-whisper to her friend that Patrick apparently couldn’t handle a real woman anymore.
“Kate, honey, nothing happened,” Patrick said quickly, reaching for me. “I would never do anything to hurt you.”
“Then why didn’t you call?”
“I’m so sorry.” He raked his fingers through his hair. “There’s no excuse. But I would never, ever cheat on you. Ever. You know that.” His voice caught at the end of his sentence, but his eyes were as guileless as ever. I felt my shoulders relax a little as some of my indignation rolled away.
“Whatever,” I huffed, because I couldn’t think of a better response. I knew he was telling the truth, but the thought of waiting at home while he sat in a bar with his ex-girlfriend still stung. I wasn’t going to tell him it was okay, because it wasn’t.
“I’m totally wrong here,” he said, spreading his palms in a mea culpa. “But it was a heavy conversation, and I didn’t feel like I could walk away to make a phone call.”
“Yes, heaven forbid you offend Candice,” I muttered.
“Kate . . .” Patrick’s voice trailed off.
“I’m going to bed.” I knew I was supposed to soften, to tell him it was all right. But I couldn’t bring myself to.
“Don’t you want to talk about this?” he asked.
Patrick sighed. “Kate, I’ll explain everything tomorrow.”
I rolled my eyes, stormed into the bathroom, and slammed the door behind me. I blinked at my reflection in the mirror, wondering how, nearly two years after they’d broken up, Candice still managed to hold some kind of power over my husband.
But as I climbed into bed ten minutes later, I could feel myself thawing a little. After all, Patrick had told me right away where he’d been. I knew he was being honest. And besides, he’d chosen me, and deep down, I knew that he would choose me every day for the rest of our lives. As I pulled the sheets over me, my anger receded in slow, steady waves.
I was already half asleep when Patrick came to bed. I turned away from him, facing the wall, and after a moment, I felt his arms encircle me. He moved closer, pressing into my back, entwining his legs with mine.
I thought for a moment about pulling away, but it was Patrick, my Patrick. He would tell me in the morning what had happened, and I would understand. So after a pause, I relaxed into his warmth.
“You know I’d never hurt you, Katielee,” he whispered. “Ever. In a million years. Nothing happened.”
I closed my eyes and breathed in. “I know.”
Patrick kissed the hollow beneath my left ear, sending a shiver up my spine. “I knew before I met you—” he murmured, just as I began to drift off to sleep.
I smiled. “—that I was meant to be yours,” I replied. It was the way we always said I love you, our own special language.
I knew I’d feel that way for the rest of our lives.
Sunlight streamed into the bedroom along with the scents of coffee and bacon when I awoke the next morning. I blinked and rolled over to look at the clock. It was 6:47, and Patrick was already up, making me breakfast. I knew it was his version of an apology, but in truth, he was already forgiven.
“Morning,” I said, covering a yawn as I walked into the kitchen a few minutes later. Patrick turned around holding a spatula, and I began to laugh. He was wearing a yellow KISS THE CHEF apron over his I LOVE NY boxers and white T-shirt. His feet were bare, his hair sleep tousled.
“Le chef eez at your service,” he said in an exaggerated French accent, which made me laugh again. “Sit, sit,” he said, gesturing toward our tiny kitchen table with his spatula. “Breakfast is served, madame.”
He set two plates of scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and toast with strawberry jam on the table with a flourish. A moment later, he returned with two steaming cups of coffee, already lightened with cream and sugar, and sat down beside me.
“You didn’t have to cook, honey,” I said with a smile.
“Mais oui.” He kissed me on the cheek. “Nothing but the best for my girl.”
I took a bite of my eggs and looked up to see him watching me, his gaze intense. “What?” I asked, my mouth still full.
“There’s no excuse for me not calling last night,” he said, his words tumbling out. “I feel terrible. I didn’t mean to make you worry.”
I take a sip of my coffee, then I draw a deep breath. “It’s okay,” I said.
Relief spread across his features like a sunrise. “You forgive me?”
“I know I overreacted.”
“No, you didn’t,” he said quickly. He took a bite of his bacon, and I watch his strong jaw work as he chewed. “Look, there’s something I’d really like to talk to you about,” he said. He blinked a few times, and his expression made me suddenly uneasy. He seemed almost nervous. “Can I take you to dinner tonight? The restaurant at the Sherry-Netherland, maybe? I know you love that place.”
I smiled. “Sounds great.”
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Patrick asked a moment later, as I crunched on a piece of bacon.
I looked up. “What?”
He pulled his apron taut and turned to face me. “It says Kiss the Chef.” He smiled at me, and when I met his eye, he winked. “And it’s only polite to follow apron instructions.”
I laughed. “Is that right?”
“It’s one of the laws of kitchenocracies around the world.”
“Of course. Sovereign kitchen nations. Like this one.”
“I see,” I said quite solemnly. “Well, I don’t want to violate any laws, sir.”
“It’s probably in your best interest to just follow along, then.” He smiled at me, stood, and held out his arms.
I laughed and got up. He bent his head, I stood on tiptoe, and our lips met.
“Good enough?” I whispered after a moment as he wrapped his arms around me, folding me in.
“Not even close,” he murmured back. Then he was kissing me again, parting my lips gently with his tongue.
We made love that morning, quickly, urgently, drinking each other in. Then I cleaned up our breakfast dishes while he showered and dressed for work.
“Looking good!” I marveled with a whistle as he reemerged into the kitchen with freshly washed hair, charcoal pants, a crisp blue shirt, and a striped gray tie.
“I didn’t think the apron and boxers would cut it at the big meeting I have this morning,” he said, “although—and I don’t want to brag here—I do have some seriously sexy legs.”
I laughed and stood on tiptoe to kiss him good-bye. “Good luck with the clients.”
“Who needs luck?” he asked with a crooked, dimpled smile. “I have the greatest wife in the world. Life is good.”
“Life is good,” I agreed. I kissed him again, and this time, it was Patrick who pulled away too soon.
When I opened my eyes, he was holding up a silver dollar from his grandfather’s old collection. “Listen, would you hang on to this for me until tonight?” he asked.
I took it with a nod. “What’s this one for?” Patrick had a tradition of tossing a silver dollar somewhere nearby whenever something good happened to him. You have to pass the good luck on, he always used to say. That way, someone else gets to make a wish. We’d thrown a silver dollar into Central Park the day I’d gotten into graduate school, another into the fountain outside City Hall when Patrick got a big promotion last year, and a third into the ocean near his parents’ house on Long Island after we got married in the spring. “Must be something big,” I added.
“It is,” he promised. “You’ll see. I’ll tell you at dinner. We can throw it into the Pulitzer Fountain after we eat. And Katielee?”
He stood in the doorway and stared at me for a long moment. “I knew before I met you—” he finally said, his voice soft.
My heart fluttered. “—that I was meant to be yours.”
The door closed behind him at 7:48 a.m.
I never saw him again.
I was out for my morning run when it happened. While I was jogging north along the Hudson River greenway, marveling at how bright and clear the sky looked after a few days of rain, a thirty-seven-year-old woman named Gennifer Barwin, a tourist from Alabama, was finishing off the bottle of vodka she’d started drinking at three in the morning after a fight with her boyfriend. While I was mentally replaying a lecture I’d heard the day before in the music therapy graduate program I’m just started at NYU, she was strapping her seventeen-month-old daughter Lianna into a car seat in her 1997 Toyota Corolla. While I was thinking how lucky I was that Patrick had encouraged me to quit my banking job to pursue the career I’d always wanted, she was pulling out of the parking lot of Hoboken’s Starlite Motel.
You have to do what your heart tells you to do. Patrick’s words of encouragement rang in my ears as my feet pounded the pavement. Life’s too short not to follow your dreams, Kate. As I looked up at the sky that morning, reflecting on how wonderfully supportive my husband was, Gennifer Barwin was swerving through the Lincoln Tunnel, headed for Manhattan. As I turned south to head home, she was taking the exit for West Fortieth Street, sideswiping a sign after she got off the highway.
And as I smiled to myself, wondering what piece of good luck had made Patrick hand me a silver dollar that morning, Gennifer Barwin was driving at 47 mph directly into the back passenger-side door of the taxi my husband was riding in.
Thirty minutes later, I rounded the corner to our fifth-floor apartment, still breathing hard from my run, and found two uniformed police officers standing outside my front door.
“Mrs. Waithman?” asked the younger one. I’m not sure whether it was his eyes full of sympathy, his somber expression, or the way he said my name, but in an instant, I knew something was terribly wrong.
“What happened?” I asked, my knees buckling beneath me. The young officer caught me before I could hit the ground.
“Ma’am, we’re very sorry, but your husband was involved in a serious car accident this morning,” he said, his voice flat. “He was in a cab, ma’am. Near Times Square.”
“No, that can’t be right,” I protested, looking back and forth between the officers. Their faces were suddenly blurry. “He’s at work. He takes the subway to work.” But he had that meeting, I realized immediately, the one with some of his most important clients. He would have taken a taxi from his office to theirs. “Oh God.”
“You’re sure it’s him?” I choked out.
“Yes, ma’am, I’m afraid so.”
“But he’s okay, right?” I asked into the strangely heavy silence. “Of course he’s okay?”
“Mrs. Waithman—” the younger one began uncertainly.
“Where is he?” I cut him off, glancing at the older officer, who reminded me of my dad, someone who would surely make everything okay. “Which hospital? Can you take me? I have to help him.”
From the thin slice of stillness that lingered between them, the way neither of them made a move, I knew before they said the words.
“Ma’am.” The older one finally spoke, his eyes watery. “I’m afraid your husband was pronounced dead at the scene.”
“No. Absolutely not.” My reply was instant, for the very concept was impossible. No more than two hours earlier, Patrick and I had made love. He’d held me in his arms. He’d kissed me good-bye, just like any other day. He’d been warm and alive and mine. “That can’t be right,” I mumbled. “Of course it can’t. There’s been some kind of mistake.”
“Ma’am, I’m afraid it’s true,” the younger officer said, reaching out again and catching my other elbow so that I was suspended between the two men. I hadn’t even noticed that I was falling. “Is there someone we can call for you?” he asked gently.
“Patrick,” I answered irrationally. “Patrick’s my emergency contact.” It had never occurred to me that he could be the emergency. I let them help me inside the apartment, where they placed me gently on the couch. I handed them my cell phone, and somehow, they must have managed to find my sister Susan’s number, because my daze was interrupted some thirty minutes later by her flying through my front door, her hair a mess.
“I got here as soon as I could,” she said, but all I could do was nod. It wasn’t until I noticed the tears streaked across her face that I realized I hadn’t cried yet. “Mom and Dad are out of town, but Gina’s on her way.”
“Oh,” I managed.
“Kate,” she said softly, sitting down beside me on the couch. “Are you okay? What can I do?”
I just stared at her blankly. It was like she was speaking a different language. I knew that I’d have to call Patrick’s parents, reach his friends, arrange a funeral, and do all those things you’re supposed to do when someone dies. But the thing is, I wasn’t ready to admit he was gone yet. As long as I sat there on the couch, the couch where we’d spent hundreds of hours together, believing in our future, I could convince myself that the world hadn’t ended.
My best friend, Gina, who’d lost her husband a year earlier in the September eleventh attacks, arrived some time later, and the two of them stayed with me, rubbing my back in silence, until long after the time Patrick should have come home from work. I watched the door for hours, hoping beyond hope that he’d walk through it, that it would all be a crazy mistake.
But it wasn’t. And as the clock turned to midnight and September nineteenth became the first day of my life that Patrick wasn’t on this earth with me, I finally began to cry.
Meet the Author
Kristin Harmel is the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and The Life Intended, along with several other novels. Her work has been featured in People, Woman’s Day, Men’s Health, Runner’s World, and Ladies’ Home Journal, among many other media outlets. She lives in Orlando, Florida.
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Kate’s world quickly gets turned upside down when her husband’s life is taken by a drunk driver. Now, over ten years later, Kate has started a new life with her fiancé, Dan. Although he’s a great guy, there’s something missing. And, the dreams she’s having, involving her late husband Patrick and their non-existent, deaf daughter, has her wondering if Patrick is trying to tell her something from beyond the grave. The recurring dreams have effected Kate so much that she enrolls in a sign language class in the hope of communicating better with her “dream daughter”. As the classes progress, so does her friendship with the teacher. And, when he learns that she is a music therapist, he wonders if her profession, along with her new-found signing ability, can be used to help some of the hard of hearing foster children that he works with open up and better express their feelings. The more Kate works with them, the more she begins to think that her dreams were meant to lead her to this life. A life where she can make a difference for others and a life where everyone just wants to find happiness. As a book blogger, I’m fortunate to be asked to read and review books. But there are certain books that have such a huge impact on me. Books that I know I’ll be thinking about well after I’ve finished reading the last page. This book is definitely one of them. Not only does it hit close to home with me knowing what it’s like to lose a family member, but I also was a foster parent who only took in special needs children. As I read this book, I swear it could’ve been based on my life. The author writes with such passion and detail that you forget that you’re reading a book and not watching the scenes unfold before you. The characters feel so real, their emotions so raw and the story was pure gold. It’s books like this one that reminds me why I fell in love with reading in the first place. I couldn’t think of a better book to close out 2014 and ring in 2015 with than The Life Intended.
When I started this book, I was sure I read it before. There's another book that starts put very similar. Keep going.....It gets better. Much better!
This was one of the best books I have ever read. I recommend it highly.
I love the messages in this novel. Highly recommended!
Have tissues ready! The story begins when Kate is upset her husband didn't answer any of her calls and comes home late. He tells her he couldn't get home sooner as he was helping someone. Kate becomes angry and won't talk about it b/c she knows he was out with his former girlfriend. They agree to talk about it the next morning. However, running late that morning he promises to tell her some exciting news that night when they return home after work. Problem was, he never came home. About an hour or so after leaving for work the police came to tell her he was killed in a traffic accident by a DUI driver. Fast forward 11-12 years - Kate still longs for Patrick and has kept in close contact with his mother. Kate is now engaged to another man and he tries to get Kate discontinue contact with her former mother-in-law. She begins having explicit dreams about Patrick and a daughter she never knew they had. The dreams become more real each time and relate information about their live she never knew. Kate becomes very confused and everyone tells her she is imagining things as the dreams are not real. Kate believes in the dreams so much she decides to take Sign Language as the "daughter" she has is deaf. Her future husband makes fun of her, her sister, best friend, and mother think she needs to get her life together as the dreams are not. This is a powerful story and I cried most of the way through it as I can identify with Kate as my husband died unexpectedly and I know the emotional toll it takes on the surviving spouse. I usually figure out the ending to a story long before it indeed ends. I did guess one part but there was still a surprise. I can't say this is THE best story I've ever read, but it is right up there.
Such an enjoyable read. Never any dead spots. A real feel good story.
Enjoyed the book. A easy read.
Loved this story and the premise behind it! If you liked Sliding Doors. . . you will love this book! Kristin Harmel is a great writer!
I enjoyed this book from start to finish. It left me smiling. This was a good read.
Very early on in this book I made a Goodreads update that said "Pretty sure I have this all figured out all ready." I didn't have it all figured out, there were a few twists and turns in the road that I didn't have figured out at all. I did, however, have the ultimate outcome figured out. The end result that I had called in my mind was in fact the end result that came to be. I think that if I would not have had a certain conversation revealed and that little bit of information had not given me the answer to the ultimate outcome of this book, I would have given this a 5 heart. For me, the sense of wondering and figuring out where this story was going to end would have been a driving factor for keeping me hooked. I felt like someone told me the ending before it even got started and that took a bit of the wind out of my sail. Even with a little less wind, I enjoyed the story Kristin Harmel has created. This is a very spiritual book, about a woman who lives the life she was intended to have through her dreams. The journey that Kate goes on will get you thinking about what you would do if you were in her place. How would you deal with something that potentially defines you as crazy? How do you move forward with life when you so desperately want to cling to the life that could have been? The amount of growth and discovery that Kate finds not only about herself but those around her is life changing. A story that will have you looking at your own life and how to hang on to the moments that make you happy. How living a life that gives a feeling of purpose and joy is the most rewarding. How sometimes the hardest choices we make lead to the greatest rewards.
The Life Intended is a story about healing, finding happiness and taking control of your destiny. This is an emotional uplifting story and I enjoyed everything about this book! Kate Waithman’s life is shattered when her husband Patrick is killed in a car accident. Just as they were building a life together Patrick was taken away from her. All their hopes and dreams were lost. Twelve years later Kate has finally taken a chance on love again and becomes engaged. Instead of being overjoyed Kate is haunted with dreams of Patrick and the life they should have had. The dreams are so real and appear to be a message that Kate is having trouble understanding. But with more dreams she realizes in her real world there has been a part of herself that has been missing since Patrick’s death. The Life Intended takes you on Kate’s journey of healing and reclaiming her life. The Life Intended is a departure from the romance novels I normally read and I am so happy I took a chance on this book. I can’t imagine having to deal with the tragic loss of your spouse but I think Kate’s character was well developed and believable. During her mourning she lost her will to live, so it is understandable that she allowed herself to just go with the flow of what her family and friends thought was best for her. And that included her relationship with her new fiancé, Dan. But the dreams allowed her to see things that she was afraid to admit to. The dreams were beautiful and heartbreaking of Patrick and the life they could have had. Author Kristin Harmel created an emotional story that was magical. I wouldn’t call this a paranormal story but there is some unexplainable force (or power) that is guiding Kate through this story. But it is Kate that finds the courage in herself to finally make the choices to guide her toward happiness. This is the first book I’ve read from this author and I was impressed with her writing and creativity. I look forward to reading more from this author. I recommend this to readers that enjoy tearjearker and uplifting stories.
I really don't even know what to say about this book! Aestas Book Blog recommended it, so of course I had to read it! It was everything she said it was and more... It was so much more than just a story...it was loss, love, hope, happiness... The twists and turns keep you riveted to the book, you just have to keep reading because there is no way you can stop until you are finished. I don't know if I have cried as much during a book as I did during this one. The pure emotion of the story is so gripping and you become so invested in the story and the characters you are basically living each word with them. If I had to say one thing about this book, it is heart-wrenchingly beautiful! If you are going to read it, make sure you have the time to read it in ONE sitting and have lots of Kleenex handy. It is an emotional experience in so many different ways. Whatever you do, make sure you go into it blind...it is so worth it! There are so many life lessons in this book, I can't even begin to list them...just know that there is so much beyond just a story of a wife losing a husband! "I knew you before I met you...that I was meant to be yours!" "Family is the most important thing in the world, no matter what." "Sometimes the greatest things in life come from the greatest challenges." "Regret will grow in spaces you don't even know are there."