In September of 2000, Maryanne Pope, the 32-year old wife of a Calgary police officer, lost her husband, John. While out on his first night’s duty since they had returned from vacation, he answered a call to what appeared to be a break-in, stepped through a false ceiling, and hit his head after falling nine feet. Also 32, he was brain-dead.
The couple had visited Disney World, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, along with other vacation spots of the Western United States. While they had a good time — one Maryanne would remember, as John lay dying, as “awesome” — the reader is at once aware of tensions between the two.
John, for his part, also had an ambition; he wanted to become an undercover police agent. He had not yet been able to attain this wish, and that may also have been one of the irritants between them.
Yet, in the odd realm of unknowing, but all-knowing coincidence that can precede unexpected parting through death, Maryanne and John were fortunate. They had a final chance to talk about their issues with each other, and to choose to speak the truth. On their return from the States, they had an argument over whether to do as Maryanne’s mother wished and hold Thanksgiving at their house. Maryanne had agreed; John was angry and didn’t want to, since they both had to work that weekend. That argument sparked a chance for them to talk. Just before he went on his final night’s shift (that last farewell, that we never can know is the last farewell), they exchanged truths and agreed to be more honest and open with each other.
Maryanne must have the details of this final conversation emblazoned on her mind and heart when she wrote A Widow’s Awakening. She told John that her great fear was that she would wake in 20 years to find she had never written anything.