by Sandy Broyard


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Standby by Sandy Broyard

This is a wife's moving story of her husband's battle with mortal illness-prostate cancer-of his death, of her descent into grief, and of her extraordinary journey back to life. And in this highly charged context it is as well the story of a marriage, from their first meeting on the Lexington Avenue subway through their twenty-nine years together. She was a student at the New School; he (later a book reviewer for The New York Times) was a teacher there.

"The world of loss, of grief, of separation is a world of change," Sandy Broyard writes, "but change that is different from growth," and she shows us that change-so unlike all the others we have experienced.
Through her training as a psychotherapist and her dancer's knowledge of how the mind is expressed in the body (she was formerly a Juilliard dancer, a student of Martha Graham and Mary Wigman), Broyard begins to understand the ways in which grief persists. She saw how Anatole's ill body, once so beautiful, distorted itself, and discovered how loss expressed itself in her own muscles.

She tells how her experience of mourning Anatole was prefigured by the loss, thirty years before when she was twenty, of both her parents and a boyfriend. She describes the aftermath: "A friend gave me a tranquilizer with wine. I passed out and a few hours later woke up, the dark feeling gone. That lesson went straight to my heart and brain. And for the next fifteen years I used that combination, not knowing that sedating myself only served to cement the torment to my bones."

But with the second series of losses in midlife-her brother, a close friend, and then her husband-there were no magic potions to dilute or expungethe grief. Now the great sadness had to be translated into words. Realizing she could be truly alive only if she was alive to her grief, she started to write for herself, capturing the journey of her years as wife, mother of her son and daughter, dancer and writer. And she tells about the suddenness of her husband's cancer, shortly after their move to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the swift progression of his illness; he died fourteen months later.

She tells how she began to reshape her life-moving to Martha's Vineyard, traveling to the house in Cambridge and back- "commuting" between her old world with Anatole and her new world on the island, and settling into a whole new life on her own, open with possibilities.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400042111
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/15/2005
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Sandy Broyard was born in Bronxville, New York, and was educated at Mount Holyoke College and the Juilliard School of Music. She has taught and performed modern dance and is now a therapist on Martha’s Vineyard.

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