Just One More Song
Conversations with My Wife After Her Death

Overview

Just One More Song is Herb Appleman’s account of coping with loss and grief following the death of his wife, Dee. It’s also the celebration of a marriage that was a love affair for forty-six years.

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Pacific Book Review

A widower finds inroads to solace and creativity by conversing with his deceased wife, in this poignant tribute to a loving relationship of forty-six years. After his wife Dee passed away from cancer, author/playwright Appleman didn’t know how he would face life without her. At first, he couldn’t sleep, but after about a month he remembered a scene from the movie Sleepless in Seattle, and tried to imagine Dee sitting with him. Then the internal, but very significant, conversations began.

In their first “talk” they joked and comforted one another; she tells him, “I’ve only been dead a month. It takes time for the scab to form.” Afterwards he fell asleep and from that point begins to look forward to their conversations, which seem as natural as though Dee were still with him. She encourages him in his career, recalls their love-making, and even encourages his attempts, after a suitable interval, to find a new partner. Combining Dee’s memories and his own, Appleman recalls their courtship, marriage, and the many ways they showed their love for one another, with episodes both romantic and amusing including an anniversary at the Waldorf Astoria where they’d spent a part of their honeymoon. Appleman travels to London, a place the couple had visited often. There he decides to dedicate a plaque to Dee in Berkeley Square where they had often strolled together. Another plaque back home at Westport on a bench by the sea commemorates Dee’s love of water and their many sailing trips. The two often talked about favorite songs, among them Autumn Leaves, which Dee liked to hear her husband sing as fall was approaching. Appleman records their shared analysis of its hauntingly lovely lyrics.

Appleman has written previously and to good effect about dealing with the loss of a spouse, in his documentary And Suddenly You’re Alone, which examines the lives of widows. Writing here about his very personal feelings and the steps that he took, at times haltingly, to deal with loneliness, must have been quite different and especially painful. But relying on his skilled craftsmanship, he offers many moments of uplifting hope, humor and indeed, practicality that all of us need to learn from, such as his decision finally to dispose of Dee’s belongings – selling some, gifting some – until her closets were empty. There is also an account of a conversation that took place before her death, in which Dee insists that Herb needs to manage certain details such as her cremation, the disposal of her ashes, and donations to the organization she worked for and where she was so valued and respected. She died shortly after that talk, a talk that all loving couples should have at some point, no matter what their current circumstances.

Those who read Just One More Song may be Dee’s friends and family, co-workers and others connected to her and Herb, but they might also be people unconnected with this dynamic couple but equally concerned with the issues gently and importantly raised. Appleman’s conversations with Dee were clearly a great boost to him as he processed his grief, and could serve as an inspiration to others.


The US Review of Books: Professional Book Reviews

JUST ONE MORE SONG: Conversations with My Wife After Her Death
by Herbert Appleman
Xlibris

Book review by Sarah Anne Carter

“I knew these conversations were imaginary; still, to me, they were as real as memory, imagination, and love are real.”

After 46 years of marriage, the author finds himself facing life without his wife. After a short battle with ovarian cancer, Dee dies peacefully being carried to their bed by Appleman after a small fall in their bathroom. They did discuss her wishes before she died, but after carrying them out, Appleman can’t seem to find a way to fall asleep at night. Then, he decides to talk to his wife like Tom Hanks’ character does in Sleepless in Seattle. He sleeps wonderfully after talking to her and makes it a nightly habit. The author learns how to mourn by carrying out his wife’s wishes, giving her clothes and jewelry to friends, using her art for thank-you cards, and placing memorials to her in appropriate places. After a year, he even considers whether or not to date.

The book is a combination of a love story told by the author’s nightly conversations with his deceased wife and a candid narrative of a man surviving his first year as a widower. Throughout the book, Appleman tells highlights of their love story that readers can tell are truly heartfelt. By the conversations, the reader can see how much Dee loved her husband in return.

The book’s main audience may have originally been the couple’s family and friends.However, a love story is universal and timeless, and anyone who loves romance will enjoy learning about the Applemans. Recent widows and widowers will also find hope in this book and see how going through the process of grief can actually move a person forward to living a full life, even while missing their other half. In short, it is a very memorable read.



Just One More Song

Just One More Song