I'll Be in the Car
Annette Januzzi Wick
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Buy *I'll Be in the Car - One Woman's Story of Love, Loss and Reclaiming Life* by Annette Januzzi Wick online

I'll Be in the Car - One Woman's Story of Love, Loss and Reclaiming Life
Annette Januzzi Wick
Three Arch Press
Paperback
408 pages
May 2006
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars
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Iíll Be in the Car by Annette Januzzi Wick covers a significant period of her life, from meeting and marrying Devin Wick and having their son Davis to witnessing the disintegration of their dreams when Devin falls sick with leukemia. Wickís book details her responses to these developments.

The title for this book stems from an oft-repeated phrase of Devinís. ďIíll be in the car,Ē he calls out while Annette makes ready for a special outing. Although aware that Devin spends this waiting time productively, the fact that he has the confidence to leave without her upsets Annette very much.

She is first introduced to Devin as a new recruit for their sales team at a Christmas party held by her employer, Cap Gemini America (Cap) in December 1990. He is good-looking, single and dances strangely. Although Annette is in a relationship with another man, she realizes that she is not close to him. Meanwhile, her attraction for Devin deepens through associations both informal and at work. On her twenty-sixth birthday, Devin declares his interest in her. Annette ends her relationship with the other man and starts going steady with Devin.

In the summer of 1991, Annette visits the Pacific Northwest with Devin. They meet Devinís brother and his wife in Oregon. As they visit scenic spots consisting of waterfalls and mountains in and around Portland and the city of Seattle and experience the cool climate, food and way of life on the Pacific coast, Annette takes an instant liking to this area. A visit with Devinís family over Thanksgiving, when they rent a cottage along the Oregon coast, turns this liking to a yearning to live here someday.

Annette, a graduate in Computer Science from the University of Akron, Ohio, joins Cap as a consultant in 1991 and later moves up to take the position of a recruiter. It is while in this position that she gets to work closely with Devin, whose passion with managing change propels his career upwards. He is promoted as branch manager of the Cincinnati office in 1992 when the existing manager transfers to Chicago. Annette, who is engaged to Devin at this time, feels her career prospects being thwarted as a result of Devinís position and hands in her resignation. After leaving Cap, Annette is self-employed for a short while, starting a drive-thru coffee bar.

Annetteís account of her engagement and wedding to Devin is poignant in the light of events that follow. She is Catholic while Devin is ďover 30, non-Catholic and divorced,Ē a male category she had vowed never to date. They overcome these issues and hold fast to their faith in God and in each other when they get married in September 1996.

A significant fact in Annetteís and Devinís wedded life is the frequency with which they move their household. These moves from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Oceanside, Oregon, to Portland, Oregon, and finally back to Cincinnati is the backdrop against which Annetteís narrative flows. Devin proposes moving to Oregon to give in to Wickís dream of living near the Pacific Ocean while making a good investment. He arranges to manage the Western sales offices of Cap by working from home in Oceanside, Oregon.

Yet Devin is not one to stay put. So when a good job offer comes up to work for AT&T at their division in Jacksonville, Florida, Devin accepts, upsetting Annette. Traveling between Florida and Oregon on a weekly basis exhausts Devin. He proposes another move, this time to Florida. Annette is adamant that they stay on in Oregon, although she compromises by moving to Portland to make his airport commute easier. Devin finally starts exploring jobs closer to home to spend more time with his wife and Davis, their infant son. It is around this time that Devin undergoes medical tests to determine the cause of his deteriorating health, which started with a bad cough in January 1997.

In September, Davis celebrates his first birthday while Annette and Devin celebrate their second anniversary. On Halloween day, Devin learns that he has Acute Lymphatic Leukemia, a form of cancer that affects the bone marrow. After this devastating news sinks in, Devin, in his characteristic fashion, accepts and takes control of his illness, makes lists of questions, and discusses treatment options with his doctor while adjusting their financial plans. As Annette takes on the role of principal caregiver, Devinís parents take on the care of Davis. Family and friends rally round with support, advice and prayers. As Devin responds positively to the procedure that is adopted and the cancer shows signs of remission, their hopes run high for a full recovery.

Yet somewhere along this path, events take a turn for the worse and Devin learns that the cancer is back. His medical team comes up with another plan to arrest the cancer. Despite initially positive signs of recovery, this procedure, too, does not succeed. In the same vein that he lives, Devin now prepares for his death, making lists once again, saying his farewells, stating his last wishes, and ensuring financial security for Annette and Davis.

Iíll Be in the Car provides an insiderís view of the responsibility and frustration felt by a caregiver of a terminally ill patient. Annettís writing brings out the frustrations she feels at having to become Devinís caregiver more than his wife. As she fusses with different medications and equipment and takes him to and from the hospital, she realizes the need to hug and love him more. She resents having to share Devin with others. She worries about having to give up Davisís care to their parents. She longs for some space for herself. As she adapts her life to accommodate Devinís health needs and helplessness, she longs for his release. Though exhausted, Wickís fighting spirit endures.

In the midst of Devinís illness, Annette starts writing to her mother. Through these letters, Annette provides updates on Devinís progress, asks questions and vents her feelings. These writings, as well as the impassioned essay she wrote on becoming a bone-marrow donor, lead to her enrolling in a writing group later. With this groupís support, she documents Devinís sickness. A kind editor advises Wick that it is her story she has to tell, not Devinís. He advises her on the importance of covering the ďSo what?Ē angle, making her examine how her life was impacted by Devin. It is this fact that contributes to the depth of emotions contained in Wickís story. She understands that writing is the only enduring gift she has to possess.

Could this story have had a different ending? To family and friends of Annette and Devin, the biggest question is why Devin should be stricken with cancer. According to Annette, ďThe pull of the ocean and the allure of success had acted against each other, as we had tried to hold firm to our vows.Ē Did physical exhaustion contribute to a weakening of Devinís immune system and the leukemia that resulted? Or was this part of Godís plan for them? Wick is certain of one fact only, that she met Devin to help him to die.

Iíll Be in the Car calls in to question an issue often faced by those facing sickness and tragedy. Devinís faith in God remains steady. Annette considers herself blessed in having to care for Devin, in having Davis and having the support of family and friends. When it becomes obvious that Devinís days are numbered, he asks her whether it is lack of faith in God that makes him prepare for the end. She tells him that it is called letting go. At another time, in a rare moment of despair by Devin, she reminds him that his illness has helped bring the family closer and allowed the goodness of people to come out.

Devin lives to celebrate his fortieth birthday in July 2000. After his passing, Annette struggles to come to terms with his death. She realizes that he never really said goodbye to her as he did to Davis, his parents and others because she did not let him. She regrets the fact that both she and Devin displayed only their strengths to each other and not their weaknesses. In the months that follow, Annette involves herself with caring for Davis, spending time with friends and dating in an effort to normalize her life. The final pages of Iíll Be in the Car document her comeback as she accepts Devinís death and realizes there is enough loving left in her to move on and take control of her life again. This book is recommended as a resource for others coping with grief.

Iíll Be in the Car is a frank account of how terminal illness of a loved one affects family and friends. It demonstrates the frustrations, despair and emotions felt by a family caregiver, as well as the state of exhaustion they feel as more and more is demanded of them. It is also a message for those in bereavement that healing can start only with acceptance, and that it is a process that takes time.



Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Kantha Wijeratne, 2006

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