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Excerpt from In Love by Amy Bloom, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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In Love

A Memoir of Love and Loss

by Amy Bloom

In Love by Amy Bloom X
In Love by Amy Bloom
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2022, 240 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2023, 240 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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Excerpt
In Love

Sunday, January 26, 2020, Zurich, Switzerland

This trip to Zurich is a new, not quite normal version of something Brian and I love: traveling. Road trip, train ride, ferry ride, airplane anywhere. We like all travel and most shopping, and this trip to Zurich has all the accoutrements of our other trips and is also nothing like anything we've ever done. As we usually do, we take a car service to the airport so we can be fancy and also avoid the park-and-schlep, and even before Brian had Alzheimer's, our combined lack of direction adds twenty minutes to all transportation transitions. We have a restaurant meal before our 6 p.m. departure. I buy a stick of lipstick and a small tube of hand cream; Brian buys some candy. We share gum. We share a bottle of water.

On the plane, we enjoy the settling in, the attention of the flight attendants, who already like us because Brian is mindful about his size and doesn't swing his arm into someone else's drink and he expresses appreciation to every single Swissair representative. We seem like people who will not be screaming for more booze or more peanuts at midnight. No one loves business class more than people who always fly coach.

We are smiling from the moment we board. I arrange our business-class pods; we are gushingly polite to the attendants. It's obvious that we like each other and are happy to be traveling together. As soon as we get our beverages (in glasses!), we toast my sister and brother-in-law, who are paying for our business-class trip to Zurich.

Dignitas's office is in Zurich, and that's where we're headed. Dignitas is a Swiss nonprofit organization offering accompanied suicide. For the last twenty-two years, Dignitas has been the only place to go if you are an American citizen who wants to die and if you are not certifiably terminally ill with no more than six months to live. This is the current standard in the United States, even in the nine right-to-die states plus the District of Columbia, about which many older or chronically ill Americans harbor end-of-life fantasies and which I researched, at Brian's direction, until we discovered that the only place in the world for painless, peaceful, and legal suicide is Dignitas, in the suburbs of Zurich.

My sister had cried with me since the second appointment with the neurologist, when it took the doctor less than an hour to give Brian a mental-status exam and inform us that Brian almost certainly had Alzheimer's and had probably had it for several years, judging by his high IQ, his struggles with balance and proprioception, and his poor performance on the exam. It took Brian less than a week to decide that the "long goodbye" of Alzheimer's was not for him and less than a week for me to find Dignitas, at the end of several long Google paths. From summer to winter, my sister, Ellen, who loves me and loved Brian, did her best not to make suggestions, not to offer "if onlys," not to say that maybe Brian's Alzheimer's wouldn't be too bad or would progress very slowly, not to cry when I wasn't crying, and not to pour out her own grief at the loss of one of her favorite people and our compatible foursome. (When they met for the first time, fourteen years ago, Brian went into Ellen's kitchen with his winning ways and said, I really love your sister. My sister didn't turn around. She said, Hurt her and I will kill you.) Ellen called me early one morning in December, when we were pretty sure that we'd cleared the hurdles for Dignitas, and said, Just tell me what you need. I said, reluctantly, Twenty thousand, and my big sister said, Here's a check for thirty. We ended up spending every penny of it, between a couple of last big fishing trips for Brian, his not working, my not working, our eating out all the time, sometimes lunch and dinner, at the nicest restaurants in New Haven. We spent it on what was to be our last joint birthday celebration, and on four nights in the five-star hotel in Zurich and the car services and the tours of Zurich and my friend flying to and from Zurich to keep me company on the flight home, on whatever makes bad months bearable, plus the cost of Dignitas itself (around ten thousand dollars all in).

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Excerpted from In Love by Amy Bloom. Copyright © 2022 by Amy Bloom. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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