Customer Reviews: A Kiss Before You Go: An Illustrated Memoir of Love and Loss
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon November 28, 2012
A Kiss Before You Go is a heartfelt memoir by Danny Gregory. The pages are from sketchbooks he kept after losing his wife to an accident in 2010. He shares with with us what it is like to lose someone you love.

I read the book with a heavy heart. You can feel his emotions through his handwritten words and the beautiful watercolour sketches. There are his personal thoughts, anxiety and turmoils. It's an intimate look at how his life has changed.

The heaviness also comes from having read his earlier book Everyday Matters that's about life after his wife's subway accident. That was published in 2003.

This is a beautiful and moving memoir. It takes tremendous courage to write about loss, especially when you have to relive it.

(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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on January 8, 2013
Last November I purchased an advanced copy of A Kiss Before You Go as a birthday gift to myself. I looked forward to receiving it and on delivery day, breezed through its beautiful pages, then set the book on my nightstand to enjoy before sleep. That night, I chose another book instead, thinking "I'll read Danny's book tomorrow." After several weeks of delay, I realized I had to ask myself, "What's going on?"

It became clear to me that I was afraid to read the book. Over the last few years, I have grieved over the loss of my mother, grandmother, a close friend, and the near loss of my wife. By now I'm aware of what grieving feels like, I know loneliness all too intimately, and I understand what it feels like to sort through belongings of a loved one whose life ended tragically short. Did I need to dig up these emotions by reading Danny's book?

Well, tonight I finally curled up on the sofa and read A Kiss Before You Go all the way through. I couldn't put it down. Danny has written such an honest and tender book that I need not have been afraid to read it. It helped me understand my own feelings of loss, regret and sadness. Ultimately, this warm and heartfelt book lifted my spirits, reminding me that I'm really not so alone in the world. Tragedy cannot be undone, but the haunting feelings that remain can be comforted.

Danny's artwork sparkles with joy and sorrow as vivid watercolors splash, drip, and run with emotion across the page. The entire book is handwritten, blending text with artwork and making the entire book fuse as one. A Kiss Before You Go is a treasure and will help keep Patti's warm heart from fading.
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on December 3, 2012
I have met Danny Gregory three times now. Well, not physically met him, but encountered him through his art and words. He's that kind of writer though; I feel like I've known him as a friend all of my life. The first time we met it was inside of his illustrated memoir, Everyday Matters, where he chronicled his life, in words and drawings, when his wife survived a tragic accident, but was left a paraplegic. He shared his wisdom of how drawing his days saved him.

The second time we met was in his book, Creative License, a fascinating exploration of how we can all bring more creativity to our daily lives, as well as a pretty darn amazing tutorial on how to draw. I still keep this book nearby every day, and dip into it during long soaks in the tub at least once a week. It is a trusted and inspiring friend.

Our third encounter was when I discovered An Illustrated Life, his anthology of the intimate pages from artists' journals. This book holds fathoms of inspiration and knowledge about keeping track of our days through art and words and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking to make daily journaling a lifelong habit, or who appreciates the art that artists make that may never be meant for the public eye.

I've connected to Danny in other ways. I keep up with his Web site and his Facebook page, his photos on Instagram and also on Goodreads. I've witnessed him go through the painful loss of his wife, Patti; raising his son, Jack and seeing him off to college. I've rejoiced as he began to send his rays of light back out into the world after what seemed like a long silence. He shares his life in such an unflinchingly honest way, and is a deep well of comfort and hope in a world that can deal out tragedy when we least expect it. He is one of those souls that makes my life richer, even though we have only ever met on the page, and on the screen.

When I discovered that Danny had a new book coming out, I was over the top excited. When I found out what he had chosen to write about, it placed an ache in my heart and also encouraged it to soar, all at once. His new book, A Kiss Before You Go, is an illustrated memoir of the unbearably painful loss of his wife, the love of his life, and how he faced it, and slowly came back to himself, by drawing what was right in front him and real, and writing down the words that were still coming from a place of darkness and grief. As a woman who has fought through deep losses of her own, I found his words so very, very true.

This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever, ever read. And the drawings...vibrant, melancholy, intense, beautiful, dark & light-filled, and very much alive. (Make sure you remove the cover from the book, otherwise you'll miss something special.)

(One of life's mysteries: how can something like this book, that is so full of goodness, truth and beauty, so full that when you open it and swim in its pages you could travel fathoms and fathoms and miles and miles across every ocean and sky, only cost $11.37? Buy this book. You will treasure it.)
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on December 3, 2012
I've read all of the books Danny has written. I also read his blog and participate in the EDM sketching group. I knew that Danny's wife Patti had died but not how. Most people only remember the "good stuff" about their dead loved one and I'm sure to a degree that is true here but Danny has always been very forthright and honest in how he was feeling about Patti, Jack and himself. I have also know that there are some really great relationships out there and I believe Danny and Patti had one of those rare, truly intimate relationships. A loss of that magnitude is like having part of your body torn away. I also understand turning to art to work out feelings. I thought this was a beautiful compilation of thoughts, emotions and sketches. When the book came, I opened the package, sat down and read through the book. I would definitely recommend this book as well as Everyday Matters. I don't think I will ever forget the message Patti had painted on the new construction across from their apartment. Like Patti, the message still lives although it can't be see.
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on January 2, 2013
A Kiss Before You Go is one of the most honest and immediate books on the grieving process I've read. There is almost an imperative in society to get over it but this journal instead honors the loss and is honest about the painful process of getting one's balance back. There is uplift, but there is a profound respect for the way grief reshapes us and hones our perspective.

The illustrations are stunning. As in his other books, the story is handwritten. Gregory often uses a dip pen and the entries are published as they are written. The written words are art. There is a haunting page where he is writing in white ink on a blue background about the day of Patti's death. The nib of the pen seems to have split halfway through the entry, or is he retracing every word. The letters and words seem to be falling apart, or like they have ghosts. The entry ends with "Nothing seems real."

He paints an interpretation of Hokusai's classic the Great Wave with a hand form reaching out of the water in the undertow. It's a powerful rendering of the way grief comes in waves and "flattens" you.

The drawings of his son and their dogs crackle with love and energy.

But this book doesn't flatten you. The honesty of it is refreshing and the beauty of life is evident on every page.

The book itself is well bound and opens flat so you can enjoy the two page spreads. I always look at books without their jackets because I like to see how they are bound and I'm always hoping for a surprise. This one has a lovely watercolor blue cover and a white ink drawing of kissing figurines. And the back of the paper cover has a collage of pictures of Patti. It underscores how she lived fully and celebrated each day.

Do your eyes and your heart a favor, and read this book.
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on September 19, 2014
Sad, touching, and helpful. I read it, then passed it on to my elderly dad, who recently lost his wife (my stepmom), and is on hospice himself. It has given us a new way to talk about our grief, and I think it has helped us both. It is particularly nice for Dad to have a true story to relate to that is appropriate for an atheist. His caregivers are all Christian, and while they're wonderful, they don't really know how to talk with him about some aspects of his loss without making him uncomfortable. This book lets him feel that he is not alone in his beliefs.

Each 2-page spread basically functions as a stand-alone illustrated story, so Dad's cognitive challenges (he will read articles of several pages, but not a whole book) are definitely not a barrier to his enjoying and absorbing this book.

Plus it's beautiful!

A hospice caregiver saw the book and really likes it. He says he'll be recommending it to clients.
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on January 9, 2013
It's hard to know what to say when you are already a fan of Danny Gregory's work. When his wife lost the use of her legs in a tragic accident, he began to draw and found in this practice his own recovery to his grief from that incident. Through sharing his sketchbooks and personal thoughts and his passion for the drawing of ordinary objects and situations in the book "Creative License", he has inspired and helped so many people to do the same. Sadly, he was dealt another blow with the death of his wife, Patti, in another accident 15 years later. Once again, he chose to chronicle his grief and confusion through his sketchbooks and has shared selections of these in "A Kiss Before You Go". The pages are vibrant and lush, or dark and brooding, but they portray the very real emotions he has gone through since her death. If you are an artist and fan of sketching you will love this. If you have ever lost anyone, you can relate to the strength and progression of his observances and feelings, and may find that Danny's thoughts give voice to that which you are having trouble putting in words. It is a wonderful tribute to a beloved wife, and inspirational to those who must continue with their lives.
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on December 4, 2012
One of the best ways to deal with loss is to read a book about how someone else has dealt with it. Danny Gregory's moving, memorable "A Kiss Before You Go" tells us how he's lived with the loss of his wife Patti. His self-portraits are a testament to grief. We also see Patti and Jack, their son, the dogs, the kitchen clutter, the neighborhood street scene. It's a book that moves you to tears and stays with you, a totally unique document. Patti would have loved it.
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on December 20, 2012
I wrote the following review on my blog Roz Wound Up and would like to share it here.

Most people reading this blog will already be familiar with Danny Gregory's books on journaling and creativity: "Everyday Matters," "Creative License," "An Illustrated Journal."

His latest book "A Kiss Before You Go," is a memoir of the year following the death of his wife Patti.

Before I go on with the review I have to come clean about a couple things--Danny is a friend, and I knew Patti through emails and phone conversations. I always thought there was plenty of time to get to New York and meet Patti in person. Two weeks ago, messages from Patti I'd saved on my phone came up again (they seem to do this every 90 days). I'm not a mopey type of person, the messages don't make me sad. They remind me of how fun it was to talk with Patti.

But when the book arrived in the mail I let it sit around for several days, just staring at me from the desk. I had just attended a couple funerals (for a dear friend and for a cousin). I had talked to Danny about his new book, but I still wasn't sure how he was going to go about accomplishing his goals.

I think to write about the experience of losing a life partner is one of the most courageous things a person can do. It's going to involve some raw emotions, but when done well it will be full of common experience, humor, and heart.

When I did sit down to read "A Kiss" I read it all the way through in one sitting. The book just flows along. In part the eye is led along by Danny's illustrations which are sometimes sentimental (but never maudlin), often humorous, usually self-deprecating, and always visually interesting.

But the book also flows along because the statements it contains are simple, straightforward, and honest--a look into the author's life and thoughts as he picked up the pieces of his life when the old life ended abruptly.

The journal entries contained in this volume are organized by month for the first year without Patti. The account of the accident which took Patti's life and Danny's visit to the hospital are told simply, with his eye for detail and his need to question.

What follows are musings on the loss. Events occur and raise memories. Old habits and patterns of behavior give way to new approaches. Something as potentially mundane as going to the grocery store becomes a way to honor and celebrate the care (and sometimes spoiling) Patti bestowed upon her husband and son.

And there is movement through the grief to the understanding that one can be cracked and broken by the death of a loved one, yet still be fueled by all the love and wisdom that loved one brought into your life.

I guess the best way to describe this book is to say it's a look at the little everyday things and happenings which mean the most to us--which form the fabric of our memory, creating the rich experience we label life.

Because of that I think this book is valuable to read whether or not you have experienced a loss. The book is about valuing experience, the small details of life that make it special and unique. The book is also a testament to someone who made life an adventure for everyone around her.

If you have lost a loved one the specifics of your experience may not match Danny's but the details of his journey dealing with a whole new set of "firsts" and moving on in life while Patti stays forever young, will touch your heart and help you think about the stuff of life and notions of loss in your own life and in our society. Because of, not in spite of, the raw emotions there is hope and comfort in this book.

The book offers a look into the most common of human experiences--loving someone, opening your heart, and accepting the risk and loss. I recommend it as a book to own and to give to the people you love.
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on December 3, 2012
This is the fourth book I own by Danny Gregory. I found his first book, The Creative License, by complete chance in the book store and he helped change my life; it is because of him and that book, that after a six year absence from drawing, that I reconnected with my passion and pursued my dream of being an artist.

In A Kiss Before You Go,, Danny reveals his vulnerability through his genius writing and always-inspiring drawings. It is a reminder how drawing can be such a healing outlet (even if you think you can't draw, you can!). There are gutt-wrenching parts to this book along with really happy moments and sacred times.

It is an inspiring story that shows no matter how great a loss you may experience in life, you must stand back up and put one foot forward, with or without your illustrated journal in hand.....hopefully he'll inspire you to start celebrating your own illustrated life like he has done for me.

Thank you, Danny!
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