Matt is a Minnesota native, who lives in California, and in March 2008, 27 hours after his daughter Madeline was born, and following a tough pregnancy, his wife of three years, and partner of 12 years, died of a Pulmonary Embolism. She never got to hold the daughter she so highly anticipated, leaving Matt and Maddy alone to take on the world together.
This book chronicles Matt and Liz’s life together pre-Maddy, Liz's tough pregnancy, Madeline's birth, along with Liz's death the next day, but mainly tells the story of a father and daughter taking on life sans mother, a concept that Matt explains was foreign to so many people, and the questions that ensued because of it.
Last week, I was lucky enough to meet Matt and also hear him read from this book at a reading and signing in Minneapolis. I thought this book was amazing at my first, but hearing a chapter read by the author himself made it even better.
If you read one book this year, even if you’re a person who hates to read, you must read this book. Two Kisses for Maddy is a quick, wonderful read, and I would have finished it in one day, if I hadn’t had to put it down at certain points so that I wouldn’t be completely emotionally exhausted. Matt is real and raw as he writes about his fear, his anger, and his love for Liz and Maddy.
The way Matt wrote this book was engaging, and best of all conversational. As a reader, I felt as if Matt was across the room from me, narrating the past three years of his life to me.
He spares no feeling; his writing is littered with curse words, just as if he were in fact, describing these events while sitting across the room from you. It was with these words I could so vividly feel the emptiness, sorrow and fear that encased his universe after Liz died, along with the hope he had for he and his daughter’s life together.
When I began the chapter that starts the day after Maddy's birth, I was in denial that Liz was really going to die when the chapter concluded; of course I knew it was coming. It's like when you're watching a terrible scene in a movie and think this time it might end differently, but of course it never does. Matt still heard his wife say, "I feel light headed," and felt her body crumble, doctors still rushed in to help her, but their efforts were no match for the pulmonary embolism that took her life. The chapter closed, and Liz was dead, and every crushed emotion Matt described, brought my chin to my chest in sobs.
I cried for Matt having to witness his wife’s life slip away, I cried for Liz for all that she will miss, and I cried for Maddy who will never know her mother, and is so innocent.
Matt describes throughout the book how he could feel so many couples at his wife’s memorial services giving him the “I’m so glad that isn’t us look,” and I have to admit, I cried with relief as I read, that it wasn’t Ben and I.
Last week when I met Matt, it was because I was over an hour early to the book signing, and he walked into the book store to introduce himself. I have to admit, I reacted like I had just seen Justin Timberlake (but with more talent, sorry JT, but it’s true!) when I first saw Matt. I contained my squeals but ran up to him and exclaimed how excited I was to meet him, how much I loved his book, and how I was there super early to make sure I got a spot and how the bookstore owners thought I was crazy.
The next thing I knew, my friends Cindy and Darcie, plus a new friend Nancy (all who Matt already knew) and I were across the street having a drink with him while shooting the shit before his reading; Matt is just honestly that nice of a guy.
And if you think Matt is great, Maddy is even more lovely. Your typical adorable three year-old, she was more than happy to "sign" my book and accept some (ie the whole bag of) Peanut Butter M&M's.
I’ll say it again, if you read ONE book this year, read this one. You’ll value Matt’s honesty, and Maddy’s innocence, but most importantly, you’ll close this book truly valuing those you hold close in your own life.