What if Tomorrow Never Comes?

( 6 )


A Los Angeles attorney with a quiet suburban life and loving family is unforeseeably faced with the unexpected.

The life of Neil Schwartz is broadsided by the hand of fate when he suddenly loses his wife and becomes the caretaker of his young dying daughter.

The story takes us on one man's journey from tragedy to recovery through a narrative embedded with encounters that inspire laughter and tears, infusing ...

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A Los Angeles attorney with a quiet suburban life and loving family is unforeseeably faced with the unexpected.

The life of Neil Schwartz is broadsided by the hand of fate when he suddenly loses his wife and becomes the caretaker of his young dying daughter.

The story takes us on one man's journey from tragedy to recovery through a narrative embedded with encounters that inspire laughter and tears, infusing insight, spirituality, humor and a delicate illustration of broken faith regained.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A memoir of a father, his family and their collective battle with his daughter's cancer. Schwartz is a father, husband and attorney experiencing spiritual galut, a Hebrew word meaning the search to gain understanding of one's existence. His faith was tested when his 26-year-old daughter was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. A former production assistant on the CBS TV show How I Met Your Mother, Amy had found her dream career as a preschool teacher. Schwartz and his wife, Joanne, accompanied Amy to every appointment and test. As Amy's health deteriorated, so did her mother's. While being a caregiver for her daughter in her time of need, Joanne died one night of a heart attack. Schwartz was devastated, as was Amy, but they tried not to lose hope and instead continued with Amy's treatments and medications. Eventually, Amy chose home hospice care, and the nurses told Schwartz her body was transitioning toward death. Even with Amy's passing, Schwartz astoundingly kept his faith and followed the Jewish tradition of shiva, a weeklong mourning period after the dead are buried. The beginning chapters of Schwartz's memoir recount the family's history and their journey through galut, with an essaylike level of detail that's compelling although separate in some ways from the heart of the story. The book then moves to his daughter's battle with cancer, a story both heartbreaking and powerful. Though Schwartz's poetry interspersed throughout the book doesn't add much, a poignant excerpt from Amy's diary about her time as an intern on MTV's New Tom Green Show as the "gum girl"--she collected the audience's gum in a jar, since chewing it was not allowed--showcases the optimistic person Amy was. An absorbing read, the heartrending memoir portrays the family's tragic but compelling story without sentimentality but with Schwartz's ample love for his family and a wish to help others. A touching memoir of dealing with two losses.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781484900352
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Publication date: 10/15/2013
  • Pages: 226
  • Sales rank: 487,277
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil Schwartz was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona. Neil has been a California trial attorney since 1977. He served as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association in addition to the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Neil has also served on the Board of Directors for Abraham Joshua Day School for twelve years. He has been selected by Los Angeles Magazine as one of the "Super Lawyers" of Los Angeles for the years 2008-2013. Above all Neil is a lifelong spiritual seeker.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 14, 2014

    Reviewed by Tania Staley for Penn Book Review What if you fo

    Reviewed by Tania Staley for Penn Book Review

    What if you found out that your daughter had a rare and unidentifiable form of cancer? What if you lost your spouse and daughter in the span of just a few months? For many of us, the answer would be less than bleak. Depression and thoughts of giving up would overtake many of us, but author Neil David Schwartz has bravely chosen to rise above his pain and sorrow in order to share his heartrending story. His book, What if Tomorrow Never Comes, is a brave recollection of the moments leading up to his daughter’s illness and the struggles he and his daughter, Amy, went through in order to live each day to the fullest, even after the death of wife and mother, Joanne Schwartz. 

    Schwartz’s honest and frank memoir is one that touches the readers soul and strives to teach an important lesson to anyone willing to listen. The author has chosen to share his journey in overcoming spiritual galut. Galut is a Hebrew term for exile, but the author explains that spiritual galut is “when a person is out of sync with his or her soul and struggles to make sense out of a seemingly incomprehensible existence (4).” He warns that there are moments in every person’s life that can cause a person to fall prey to spiritual galut. Utilizing experiences and influencing people from his own life, he discusses both those that rise above sorrow and those who succumb. Essentially, Schwartz’s book is a unique blend of advice and recollection. His own story, and those of his family that he shares, provides helpful insight into how to deal with and move through and beyond grief. It is a reminder that we are not alone in our pain and sorrow; others go through it and have learned to enjoy life again. 

    It is Schwartz’s bravery that I most admired while reading his memoir. He does not sugarcoat or simplify the tragedies that he has experienced. This book is raw and powerful, and I found the text one that I simply couldn’t put down. Most books dealing with such a sad and emotional topic I have to read in small doses, but What if Tomorrow Never Comes demands to be read. It was a journey that I had to get through, no matter how painful, and I ended up reading the book in its entirety in one sitting. More than once, I unabashedly noticed tears streaming as I read. But these were not simply tears of sorrow, they were also tears of hope. Though his story is one of sorrow, the book is far from dark and gloomy. Schwartz has a wonderful ability to share times of beauty and happiness, reminding readers that the good and the bad very rarely happen separately and instead weave themselves simultaneously into our lives. I highly recommend What if Tomorrow Never Comes to anyone, but especially to those who may be struggling to come to terms with a tragedy, and I will thankfully commend Neil David Schwartz for sharing his story. 

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  • Posted June 11, 2014

    What if Tomorrow Never Comes? is the tragic and moving story of

    What if Tomorrow Never Comes? is the tragic and moving story of Neil David Schwartz, an attorney in Los Angeles whose daughter passed away from a rare form of cancer in her late twenties. In the middle of this trying time, his wife died in her sleep – literally, it would seem, of a broken heart. To say this is a sad story is putting it mildly. It would be impossible to come away from this book unmoved; both by the strength exhibited by all involved, the sheer frustration that one family could be afflicted by all of this, and as the sadness unfolds.

    Tears will be shed – count on it, a no doubt cathartic experience, because the book also reads like it’s Schwartz’s attempt at catharsis. Being abruptly left by his wife and daughter, the story just about explodes off the page as he tries to detail and make sense of all of these events. The attention to detail is meticulous and impressive. It seems nearly impossible to remember a conversation with a nurse from many years before, but Schwartz gets the daily detail down with amazing precision. What makes the book both difficult and effective is you’re living every moment along with him as if it just happened. Where else could all this information end up but in a book? He seems to have been carrying around mountains of detail about this tragic experience.

    To that end, the book could be enormously helpful for anyone with a family member who is suffering from cancer, or any other debilitating condition. It could also be helpful to someone who has been through a similar tragedy. Though it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier but it can certainly make one feel less alone, as Schwartz chronicles problems with health insurance and callous nurses, while shining a spotlight on the bright moments as well – especially his wife and daughter. His love for them permeates this book.

    It is also a deeply spiritual book, while not necessarily religious. The questions being asked here are less about proselytizing than Job asking, “Why me?” – a question that anybody might ask, regardless of faith. There aren’t any clear answers, but the search for answers is moving and useful in itself. Schwartz is a man on a quest – to understand what happened to him and his family, but also to find answers for the big questions about life and death.

    This is a difficult book to both read and review. How can one possibly criticize a book written from such pain and heartache? The writer is suffering from pain that will be with him all of his life, so why contribute any negativity to it? There are a few small issues – while much of the book is deeply powerful, it seems, in a way, written for family and friends, who may have heard from a distance that there was sickness in the family, but never fully knew what that entailed. Though the family history is interesting backstory, it will mostly be interesting to members of the Schwartz clan. At times the book seems like a family document, and less like a universal one.

    You keep wishing for a different outcome, but marveling at everyone’s strength – especially Amy, his daughter. It is kind of a book-length eulogy to her, not merely concentrating on her death, but her life – and life itself. You’ll come away with a new sense of appreciation for what it is to be alive, and how to show resilience through suffering. What if Tomorrow Never Comes? is a devastating but touching document about life, death and family that will change you by book’s end.

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  • Posted April 29, 2014

    Reviewed by Michael McManus for Readers' Favorite Neil David Sc

    Reviewed by Michael McManus for Readers' Favorite

    Neil David Schwartz begins the story about the untimely deaths of his wife of thirty-two years and their twenty-seven-year-old daughter by reflecting on his own life and the lives of his ancestors. In short, it is very much a memoir that describes what led him to the events that began to unfold on Memorial Day in 2010. In a humorous and touching way he describes how his family migrated from Poland to Los Angeles, by way of Arizona, and gives us a picture of what awaited him when he was born in L.A in the late 1940s. After a brief introduction to his upbringing, he takes us through the early frustrations of meeting and sometime later marrying the girl of his dreams, Joanne, a woman of great beauty who was loved by all who knew her. He and his bride built a family together consisting of a son, Scott, and his daughter, Amy. For thirty years they watched their children grow and become productive members of society.  Amy went into the television industry and later into teaching, a career move that puts her into a job she learns to love, working with children.  Unfortunately, in her mid-twenties, Amy, the girl with the bright smile and beautiful, big, brown eyes is diagnosed with cancer. For the first year of treatment, Joanne is the lead caregiver to her daughter, but the task becomes too great for her. When she dies suddenly, literally from a broken heart, Neil takes on the roles of father, mother, and caregiver.  

    His objective account of her treatment and the heart-rending insights into Amy’s strength and character will inspire you. It will also lead you to ask yourself, “What if tomorrow never comes?” I read the last third of this book with a lump in my throat. I recommend it without reservation. It is a fitting memorial to two women I would have been proud and happy to know.

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  • Posted April 29, 2014

    Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite What If Tomorrow Nev

    Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite

    What If Tomorrow Never Comes is a memoir by Neil David Schwartz, a successful, well-known Los Angeles attorney with a quiet suburban life and a loving family. Married to his wife Joanne for 32 years, his life was turned upside down when Joanne died, a death caused by cardiopulmonary arrest – literally a broken heart due to the stress that she had to endure regarding her daughter’s cancer. He then became the caretaker of his ill 27-year-old daughter Amy, who succumbed to lung cancer three months later. 

    This memoir is very personal, with Schwartz sharing intimate details of his grandparents, his father, and his life with Joanne; their first meeting, their separation and reunion, as well as the birth of their children, Scott and Amy. The dark moments when Amy was diagnosed with cancer was intense, a powerful reminder how shockingly unpredictable life could be. The tiring efforts of seeking the best treatments and doctors, hospitalizations, and even putting up with parasitic-like Nurse Peggy were overwhelming. Readers also get a glimpse into Schwartz’s mind as he tries to make sense of the world, trying to recover from losing both his wife and daughter. We follow his journey of resurgence through his shared insight of spiritualism. 

    All in all, What If Tomorrow Never Comes is a wonderful memoir filled with love, joy, and laughter. Yet it is also a heartbreaking memoir. There are some parts that are quite hard to read without shedding a tear, especially with Schwartz’s honest narrative. That being said, this is a powerful and unforgettable chronicle from a wonderful husband and father.

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  • Posted April 29, 2014

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    Reviewed by Tina Stanciu for Readers' Favorite What if Tomorrow

    Reviewed by Tina Stanciu for Readers' Favorite

    What if Tomorrow Never Comes? by Neil David Schwartz is a highly emotional book which tells the story of how your life can change when faced with not one, but two painful losses. This is the story of Neil Schwartz and his passage from unbelievable tragedy to acceptance and recovery. When his wife suddenly passes away, Neil is faced with having to care for his young dying daughter while dealing with the loss of the woman he loved. This book talks openly about the battle with cancer, the journey of a grieving father, and the stories of the people who have influenced his recovery.  

    Neil Schwartz, with the help of his sincere and emotional writing style, makes What if Tomorrow Never Comes? a powerful read for anyone, and even if you end up reading the book with tears in your eyes you would have learned a valuable lesson about life and the things that we should really cherish and hold dear. The death of his wife, Joanne, and the cruel illness of his young daughter, Amy, cast a light of despair and sorrow on Neil’s personality and contributed to his development as a person. It’s painful to see how sometimes these types of events awaken us, how sometimes our broken heart serves as a key to understanding how life works and what really matters. I imagine it is unspeakably hard to lose your wife and child and most people find it extremely hard, if not impossible, to recover from such a loss.  

    I recommend What if Tomorrow Never Comes? to everyone who has ever lost a loved one, to everyone who lives with the fear that life might suddenly change forever and, most of all, to everyone with the ability to understand such a story and put themselves in the author’s shoes, if only for a second. Don’t see it just as a true story well written; see it as an opportunity to look into someone else’s soul and to start searching yours for the true values in your life.

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  • Posted April 25, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    What If Tomorrow Never Comes is definitely a tearjerker but it's

    What If Tomorrow Never Comes is definitely a tearjerker but it's also funny, 
    insightful, warm and incredibly personal.  Of course, if you're judging the book 
    by its' cover then you would probably overlook this altogether. The author starts out
    revealing his heritage by introducing you to his parents and grandparents history.
    Then you delve into his life with his wife and children.  His son gets short shrift
    in the story because the daughter becomes ill and that becomes the focus of
    all of their lives. But really I think they all get short shrifted as the author
    doesn't go into any great detail of their lives together except for the visits
    to the doctors & hospitals. The death of his wife and daughter are very moving and a 
    testament to the strength of their family that the men make it through very 
    much intact and soldier on living life for their wife, mother, daughter & sister.
    It is a very moving memoir but a great deal of it is superficial or left up to the
    reader to decide exactly what happened. That said I would still highly recommend this book
    because we all deal with illness, stress, death differently as this memoir shows
    how one father dealt with it all as honestly as he could.

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