What if Tomorrow Never Comes?

Non-Fiction - Grief/Hardship
226 Pages
Reviewed on 04/22/2014
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Author Biography

Neil Schwartz was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He has been a California trial attorney since 1977. Neil served as trustee of the Los Angeles County Law Library and as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association in addition to the Los Angeles County Superior Court. He also served on the Board of Directors for Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School for twelve years. Neil has been selected by Los Angeles Magazine as one of the “Super Lawyers” of Los Angeles for the years 2008-2013. He is also a lifelong spiritual seeker and avid baseball fan.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Tina Stanciu for Readers' Favorite

What if Tomorrow Never Comes? by Neil David Schwartz is a highly emotional book which tells the story of how your life can change when faced with not one, but two painful losses. This is the story of Neil Schwartz and his passage from unbelievable tragedy to acceptance and recovery. When his wife suddenly passes away, Neil is faced with having to care for his young dying daughter while dealing with the loss of the woman he loved. This book talks openly about the battle with cancer, the journey of a grieving father, and the stories of the people who have influenced his recovery.

Neil Schwartz, with the help of his sincere and emotional writing style, makes What if Tomorrow Never Comes? a powerful read for anyone, and even if you end up reading the book with tears in your eyes you would have learned a valuable lesson about life and the things that we should really cherish and hold dear. The death of his wife, Joanne, and the cruel illness of his young daughter, Amy, cast a light of despair and sorrow on Neil’s personality and contributed to his development as a person. It’s painful to see how sometimes these types of events awaken us, how sometimes our broken heart serves as a key to understanding how life works and what really matters. I imagine it is unspeakably hard to lose your wife and child and most people find it extremely hard, if not impossible, to recover from such a loss.

I recommend What if Tomorrow Never Comes? to everyone who has ever lost a loved one, to everyone who lives with the fear that life might suddenly change forever and, most of all, to everyone with the ability to understand such a story and put themselves in the author’s shoes, if only for a second. Don’t see it just as a true story well written; see it as an opportunity to look into someone else’s soul and to start searching yours for the true values in your life.

Michael McManus

Neil David Schwartz begins the story about the untimely deaths of his wife of thirty-two years and their twenty-seven-year-old daughter by reflecting on his own life and the lives of his ancestors. In short, it is very much a memoir that describes what led him to the events that began to unfold on Memorial Day in 2010. In a humorous and touching way he describes how his family migrated from Poland to Los Angeles, by way of Arizona, and gives us a picture of what awaited him when he was born in L.A in the late 1940s. After a brief introduction to his upbringing, he takes us through the early frustrations of meeting and sometime later marrying the girl of his dreams, Joanne, a woman of great beauty who was loved by all who knew her. He and his bride built a family together consisting of a son, Scott, and his daughter, Amy. For thirty years they watched their children grow and become productive members of society. Amy went into the television industry and later into teaching, a career move that puts her into a job she learns to love, working with children. Unfortunately, in her mid-twenties, Amy, the girl with the bright smile and beautiful, big, brown eyes is diagnosed with cancer. For the first year of treatment, Joanne is the lead caregiver to her daughter, but the task becomes too great for her. When she dies suddenly, literally from a broken heart, Neil takes on the roles of father, mother, and caregiver.

His objective account of her treatment and the heart-rending insights into Amy’s strength and character will inspire you. It will also lead you to ask yourself, “What if tomorrow never comes?” I read the last third of this book with a lump in my throat. I recommend it without reservation. It is a fitting memorial to two women I would have been proud and happy to know.

Lit Amri

What If Tomorrow Never Comes is a memoir by Neil David Schwartz, a successful, well-known Los Angeles attorney with a quiet suburban life and a loving family. Married to his wife Joanne for 32 years, his life was turned upside down when Joanne died, a death caused by cardiopulmonary arrest – literally a broken heart due to the stress that she had to endure regarding her daughter’s cancer. He then became the caretaker of his ill 27-year-old daughter Amy, who succumbed to lung cancer three months later.

This memoir is very personal, with Schwartz sharing intimate details of his grandparents, his father, and his life with Joanne; their first meeting, their separation and reunion, as well as the birth of their children, Scott and Amy. The dark moments when Amy was diagnosed with cancer was intense, a powerful reminder how shockingly unpredictable life could be. The tiring efforts of seeking the best treatments and doctors, hospitalizations, and even putting up with parasitic-like Nurse Peggy were overwhelming. Readers also get a glimpse into Schwartz’s mind as he tries to make sense of the world, trying to recover from losing both his wife and daughter. We follow his journey of resurgence through his shared insight of spiritualism.

All in all, What If Tomorrow Never Comes is a wonderful memoir filled with love, joy, and laughter. Yet it is also a heartbreaking memoir. There are some parts that are quite hard to read without shedding a tear, especially with Schwartz’s honest narrative. That being said, this is a powerful and unforgettable chronicle from a wonderful husband and father.