A few pages into Laird Norton Wealth Management’s employee book club pick for June, Roger Rosenblatt’s “Making Toast,” I realized this book was about an acute life transition. Written like entries in a journal, Rosenblatt gives a very personal account of his family’s experience when his 38-year-old daughter, Amy, died of an undetected heart issue. In response to Amy’s sudden death, the author and his wife dropped the life they had planned to live in retirement, packed up, and moved in with their son-in-law to help care for their three grandchildren. The book captures the mourning period of the six survivors as they navigate their new family arrangement. Although sorrowful at times, Rosenblatt shares the subtle and beautiful details of community support, family togetherness and his grandchildren’s development in the context of the loss of their mother. Toward the end of the book, Rosenblatt quotes and comments on a letter from Auschwitz:
“If there have been, at various times, trifling misunderstandings in our life, now I see how one was unable to value the passing time.’ As far as I can tell, this is how to live – to value the passing time.”
Rosenblatt writes about one of Amy’s last voicemail messages. When reading the print version of her final words, our book club couldn’t help wondering if she would have left a different message had she known that she was going to die shortly. After little debate, we collectively agreed that her light-hearted message about holiday shopping for her nephews might have been exactly what she would have wanted as her parting words, a perfect example of just enjoying the passing time.
We talk a lot in our business and on this blog about planning for the future – life insurance, estate documents, legacy planning, retirement savings – and the principal reason driving these arrangements for the future is to afford ourselves freedom to enjoy the present. “Making Toast” is a poignant reminder of just how important this is. We enjoyed this book and hope you consider reading it.