James Patterson has written a love story!-a powerfully moving and suspenseful novel about families, loss, new love, and hope.
Katie Wilkinson has found her perfect man at last. He's a writer, a house painter, an original thinker-everything she's imagined she wanted in a partner. But one day, without explanation, he disappears from her life, leaving behind only a diary for her to read.
This diary is a love letter written by a new mother named Suzanne for her baby son, Nicholas. In it she pours out her heart about how she and the boy's father met, about her hopes for marriage and family, and about the unparalleled joy that having a baby has brought into her life. As Katie reads this touching document, it becomes clear that the lover who has just left her is the husband and father in this young family. She reads on, filled with terror and hope, as she struggles to understand what has happened-and whether her new love has a prayer of surviving.
Written with James Patterson's perfect pitch for emotion and suspense, Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas captures beautifully the joys of a new family as it builds to an overwhelmingly moving climax. This is an unforgettable love story, at once heartbreaking and full of hope.
Dear Nicholas, my little prince—
There were years and years when I wondered if I would ever be a mother.
During this time, I had a recurring daydream that it would be so wonderful and wise to make a videotape every year for my children and tell them who I was, what I thought about, how much I loved them, what I worried about, the things that thrilled me, made me laugh or cry, made me think in new ways. And, of course, all my most personal secrets.
I would have treasured such videotapes if my mother and father had recorded them each year, to tell me who they were, what they felt about me and the world.
As it turned out, I don't know who they are, and that's a little sad. No, it's a lot sad.
So, I am going to make a videotape for you every year—but there's something else I want to do for you, sweet boy.
I want to keep a diary, this diary, and I promise to be faithful about writing in it.
As I write this very first entry, you are two weeks old. But I want to start by telling you about some things that happened before you were born. I want to start before the beginning, so to speak.
This is for your eyes only, Nick.
This is what happened to Nicholas, Suzanne, and Matt.
Let me start the story on a warm and fragrant spring evening in Boston.
I was working at Massachusetts General Hospital at the time. I had been a physician for eight years. There were moments that I absolutely loved, cherished: seeing patients get well, and even being with some when it was clear they wouldn't recover. Then there were the bureaucracy and the hopeless inadequacy of our country's current health-care program. There were my own inadequacies as well.
I had just come off a twenty-four-hour rotation and I was tired beyond anything you can imagine. I was out walking my trusted and faithful golden retriever, Gustavus, a.k.a. Gus.
I suppose I should give you a little snapshot of myself back then. I had long blond hair, stood about five foot five, not exactly beautiful but nice enough to look at, a friendly smile most of the time, for most of the human race. Not too caught up in appearances.
It was a late Friday afternoon, and I remember that the weather was so nice, the air was sweet and as clear as crystal. It was the kind of day that I live for.
I can see it all as if it just happened.
Gus had sprinted off to harass and chase a poor, defenseless city duck that had wandered away from the safety of the pond. We were in the Boston Public Garden, by the swan boats. This was our usual walk, especially if Michael, my boyfriend, was working, as he was that night.
Gus had broken from his lead, and I ran after him. He is a gifted retriever, who lives to retrieve anything: balls, Frisbees, paper wrappers, soap bubbles, reflections on the windows of my apartment.
As I ran after Gus, I was suddenly struck by the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. Jesus, what is this?
It was so intense that I fell to my hands and knees.
Then it got worse. Razor-sharp knives were shooting up and down my arm, across my back, and into my jaw. I gasped. I couldn't catch my breath. I couldn't focus on anything in the Public Garden. Everything was a blur. I couldn't actually be sure of what was happening to me, but something told me heart.
What was wrong with me?
I wanted to cry out for help, but even a few words were beyond me. The tree-laden Garden was spinning like a whirligig. Concerned people began crowding around, then hovering over me.
Gus had come skulking back. I heard him barking over my head. Then he was licking my cheek, but I barely felt his tongue.
I was flat on my back, holding my chest. Heart? My God. I am only thirty-five years old. "Get an ambulance," someone cried. "She's in trouble. I think she's dying."
I am not! I wanted to shout. I can't be dying. My breathing was becoming shallower and I was fading to black, to nothingness. Oh, God, I thought. Stay alive, breathe, keep conscious, Suzanne.
That's when I remember reaching out for a stone that was near me in the dirt. Hang on to this stone, I thought, hang on tight. I believed it was the only thing that would keep me attached to the earth at that scary moment. I wanted to call out for Michael, but I knew it wouldn't help.
Suddenly I realized what was happening to me. I must have passed out for several minutes. When I came to, I was being lifted into an ambulance. Tears streamed down my face. My body was soaked with sweat.
The EMT woman kept saying, "You're gonna be fine. You're all right, ma'am." But I knew I wasn't. I looked at her with whatever strength I could muster and whispered, "Don't let me die."
All the while I was holding the small stone tightly in my hand. The last thing I recall is an oxygen mask being slipped over my face, a deathly weakness spreading through my body, and the stone finally dropping from my hand.
So, Nicky, I was only thirty-five when I had the heart attack in Boston. The following day I had a coronary by-pass at Mass. General. It put me out of action, out of circulation for almost two months, and it was during my recuperation that I had time to think, really think, maybe for the first time in my life.
I thoroughly, painfully examined my life in Boston, just how hectic it had become, with rounds, research, overtime, overwork, and double shifts. I thought about how I'd been feeling just before this awful thing happened. I also dealt with my own denial. My grandmother had died of heart failure. My family had a history of heart disease. And still I hadn't been as careful as I should have been.
It was while I was recuperating that a doctor friend told me the story of the five balls. You should never forget this one, Nicky. This is terribly important.
It goes like this.
Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you're keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls— family, health, friends, integrity—are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. And once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginnings of balance in your life.
Nicky, I finally understood.
Copyright © 2001 by James Patterson
Read by Becky Ann Baker
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