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We are approaching the two-year mark of living in a global pandemic — can you believe it? In the beginning days of lockdown, things were a small inconvenience for me.
I took Zoom yoga classes instead of going into the studio, I ordered curbside takeout instead of dining in, and I bought a month’s-worth of groceries so I could stay inside as long as possible.
Wearing a mask — in the beginning, when we were getting mixed messages about their level of prevention — was a sign of solidarity to front-line workers and at-risk communities.
But as we know, things got so much worse. So many people got sick, and had to recover alone. Many didn’t recover, and there couldn’t even be a proper funeral. People (including me) lost their jobs. Kids had to stay home from school.
It’s sort of wild to think about all that we’ve been through and we’re just sort of… still doing it.
Those beginning days of the pandemic, I was also following along with Amanda Kloots’ story on Instagram. I found her via Gabby Dalkin, of What’s Gaby Cooking.
Amanda — a Broadway star and former Rockette — had taken to Instagram to share her COVID story. Her husband, Tony-nominated Nick Cordero, was in the ICU at Cedar Sanai, on a ventilator.
At first, it seemed like he was just going to be there for a few days, maybe a week. So, Amanda was documenting life with their son, Elvis, so Nick could see everything he missed once he got home.
But, when Nick’s health didn’t improve, she took to Instagram to ask for prayers, invite viewers to sing and dance with her to celebrate health and life, and encourage everyone to mask up and social distance. I started tuning into Amanda’s story daily. I wanted to see how Nick was doing, how she was doing, and I wanted things to turn around for them.
But, after three months in the ICU, Nick passed away. He was young and healthy prior to getting COVID, and his story was a reminder to me that this virus was serious. If a Broadway singer’s lungs couldn’t handle it, neither could mine.
“Live Your Life” is Amanda’s story of how she met and fell in love with Nick, and ultimately, her experience dealing with him being sick during such a tough time in the world.
I knew I wanted to read this book from the time it was announced, but I knew I was going to wait until I was ready. As someone who’s suffered from grief, I have a hard time reading books about loss — but sometimes when I do venture to read them, they can be healing.
So, I actually listened to the audio of this. It’s read by Amanda, and sometimes she did cry, but I didn’t feel like it was too much. She also sang, and there was a clip of Nick’s song, “Live Your Life.”
I really loved this book. It’s my first 5-star read of 2022.
I loved hearing about Amanda and Nick’s careers on Broadway and their dreams. It put everything into context when he got sick.
And, I feel sort of gross saying this, but if you ever wondered what was happening to the body when someone gets COVID, there are lots of medical explanations in the book.
When I put my star rating on GoodReads, I was really sad to see that several other women gave this book a bad review because they said Amanda was privileged and didn’t acknowledge it.
I actually felt that Amanda acknowledged it, and gave a lot of thanks to the people she knew from Broadway who helped her care for her son. One friend stepped up to pay for medical care, and that’s why her husband received a certain level of care — was she supposed to turn that down?
She also started a business that gives 50% of its profits to the nurses at Cedar Sanai — $50,000 went to them in less than a year.
I can’t imagine the pain she went through, and it’s really sad to me that some people choose to judge others in their lowest moments.
I still follow Amanda on Instagram, and I’ve enjoyed seeing how she’s shared her grieving process and how she’s continuing to honor Nick’s legacy as she raises their son.
I’d definitely recommend this book if you’ve lost someone — but only when you’re ready.
For more book recommendations, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Goodreads @thebitterlemon – where I share more of my book picks. Also, check out my printable bookmarks and Book Club Journal Pages in my Etsy Shop.