The “Then” chapters unfold their story as a couple. Paul meets Sylvia at work, when she brings in her injured pug. She is a mad-pixie type with vivid red hair, and he is enchanted by her unconventional spirit. There are hints of a deeper neurosis, but he can live with them, and motherhood calms her down. Only after her death does he learn that Sylvia has been keeping a very unlikeable secret. “It turns out,” as she tells him from beyond the grave, “dying hasn’t made me a saint after all.”
Prepare for heartbreak as Ley explores the need for love, forgiveness and remembrance. When Sylvia receives a devestating diagnosis, she isn't prepared to leave her two young children and husband with nothing to hold on to. Instead, she writes a handbook that guides and provides hope for them. The quality of writing and the book's message of hope makes this difficult journey worthwhile.