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A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas
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Nov 01, 2009

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Abigail Thomas had only been married to husband Rich for a few years when he went out to walk the dog he never wanted to own. The dog broke free, and Rich went into the road to save him, and was hit by a car. Traumatic brain injury. The "nicest guy in the world" would never be the same.

Thomas writes this memoir about the very situation which has occupied the worry section of my brain since I got married: what happens when the guy you marry is no longer the guy you married - but you are still married to him? In Abigail and Rich's case, Rich now lives in institutional care and comes home for a once-a-week visit. Rich still loves Abigail, and it is wrenchingly apparent that Abigail still loves Rich - who weirdly retains his own unique personality despite his many many deficits. The memoir is slight and thin, but sufficient to bring Rich to life, and to give at least hints of the moral struggle involved in Abigail's deciding to have a life beyond Rich, while doing her best to give him the best life she can. I was really affected by the parts where Abigail has to lie to Rick to get him to do things; she is clearly a woman to whom even white lies are painful, yet she lies to Rick to ease his loneliness and confusion. It's a reminder of something I have come to believe: that one doesn't achieve full adulthood until one is forced to choose, not between right and wrong, but between two "wrongs." Sad...but interesting.
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