Anne Leonard

For the Love of Mike

Charlie, Karin, Chris, Me, and Mke.
for-the-love-of-mike-medium

On the morning of March 3, 2009, a neurologist called me into a consultation room to discuss my husband Mike’s condition. He started the conversation with an elementary lesson on the various parts and functions of the brain, which put me completely off guard. So I didn’t see it coming when he got around to his devastating point, which was Mike had no brain activity at all. I was prepared for bad news and tough choices, but not for this. “You mean there’s no hope at all?” I stammered. “None barring a miracle,” he said.

I went back to ICU, where machines were keeping Mike alive, and stared out into bright spring sunshine. It was the only time in my life when I had absolutely no desire to go on living. I tried to talk myself forward: I had friends and family who loved me; I had an excellent career; I had financial security, to the point I could go wherever I wanted. And now that I didn’t have Mike, I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. Yes, I even tried that approach, but it didn’t work. With Mike I had everything, without him I had nothing.

The survival instinct to find something good in the worst thing that ever happened to me was the beginning of For the Love of Mike. I always planned to write a book “someday.” Now I had a compelling story dropped in my lap, a fairly unique experience to share. Losing a loved one is never easy, but this wasn’t the first time I stood looking out a hospital window preparing myself for the death of a spouse; my first husband Don also died while still in his early forties.

Nurturing the idea for this book was one of the ways I got through the days that followed. Friends and family, all of whom loved Mike, gathered. Many stories were shared, many tears shed. The funeral home asked for a dozen or so photos of Mike for a slide show. We provided more than 300. One friend after another got up to talk about Mike, remembering his sense of humor, his quirks, his loyalty, his tender-heartedness. After the service, the husband of a coworker said, “I didn’t know this man, but I sure wish I had.”

I began writing down my favorite memories of Mike, most of which revolved around our travels. I am an international editor, and Mike often accompanied me as I extended one business trip or another. Travel tests a relationship, and we endured any number of hellish scenarios knowing we’d laugh about them in the end. When we weren’t on the road, Mike taught me to love Texas, and so I also began to write about our adventures in our own backyard, as we braved sweltering heat, swarming mosquitoes and frightening tropical storms.

However, to fully tell the story of my life with Mike, I had to start at the beginning, which was when I moved to Texas from Colorado in 1988. My company appointed me manager of a Houston department; Mike was one of my new employees. I would not have left Denver if it had not been for the urging of my first husband, and it became clear that Mike’s story overlapped Don’s. I couldn’t tell one without the other.

So For the Love of Mike is a contrast between two marriages, two husbands, and two deaths. It is also a travelogue, as the most indelible memories are often made on the road. But, most of all it is a love story, dedicated to Mike who saved my life, both figuratively and literally. If only I could have done the same for him.

For the Love of Mike is an inspiring gem that sweeps you from emotion to emotion with brutal honesty and heartfelt prose. This story of love and loss and travel is a poignant recollection that stirs the heart.”

–Kristen K. Brown, bestselling and award-winning author of The Best Worst Thing and founder of HappyHourEffect.com

For the Love of Mike is a memoir about losing not one but two husbands to early deaths. While her life has its grim moments, Anne tells her story in a distinctive voice resonating with warmth and humor. You will enjoy reading about her trials and travails and rejoice at her triumphs. By the time you finish the story, you will say to yourself, I would like to have Anne as a friend of my own.”

–Roger Paulding, author of The Pickled Dog Caper

For the Love of Mike is a funny and poignant reflection of life and self in the midst of an indelible friendship and love, and in the wake of sudden loss. Anne’s honest prose, sense of humor, and observant eye reveal the hard realities of her earlier life and the story of how, while one man threatened to suppress her, another became her compliment in travel, in banter, and in life. The story of their brief romance shines as a tribute and love letter, as truthful as a diary and as vibrant as their lives together.”

–Karin Torrey, writer of Mercer Falls

“Anne’s work-in-progress is not the ordinary widow’s story. Her humor makes this memoir immensely enjoyable, yet heart rending and compelling at the same time. Her writing is lively but balanced with rich detail. Anne is a writer who shows great promise, and I look forward to seeing her memoir on the bookshelves.”

–Ann Weisgarber, author of the award-winning The Personal History of Rachel DuPree

“For the Love of Mike is not only a memoir – it is a heart-felt roadmap. But like the best trips in life, it’s not so much about how or when you get to your destination but who’s running shot-gun. The soundtrack to this journey is sometimes joyous and sometimes heart-wrenching — but it’s always compelling.”

–Tom Darin Liskey, writer of Too Freaky for Dixie

Anne’s memoir is a journey that begins in Colorado and ends in Houston with the death of two husbands. It tugs at one’s heart and enhances one’s appreciation of love and life. For the Love of Mike is a bittersweet tale of a deteriorating marriage, alcoholism, a battle for survival, duty, resilience, and a relationship that inspires us to believe in the possibility of a passionate and lasting love. Kudos, Anne.

–Francine Parker, writer of Steal

A clever, funny testimonial to a love cut too short. The indelible people and places come alive on paper. It was like I was there!

–Deane Gremmel, writer of Prints in Time