Three years after his wife died and he was left to care for a day-old preemie baby alone, Matt Logelin is helping other bereaved parents, raising his toddler and promoting a new book.
Matt Logelin and Liz Goodman fell in love when they were still in high school in Minnetonka. They moved to Los Angeles and married, and their baby, Madeline, was born prematurely in March 2008 -- just 3 pounds 18 ounces, "one tiny screaming bundle of joy," Logelin said.
Joy turned to devastation a day later when a blood clot in Liz's leg loosened and shot toward her lungs; she collapsed and died of pulmonary embolism. Day-old Maddy, still in the intensive care unit, was motherless, and Logelin was destroyed.
He had been blogging about Maddy's birth for friends and family back home, and after Liz's death he continued to blog, partly for his own sanity. That blog led, eventually, to a book. In his new memoir, "Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love" (Grand Central, $24.99), Logelin walks readers through that harrowing year. (He slept on the couch for months, unable to enter the bedroom he had shared with Liz.) It was Maddy, he said, who pulled him through.
Since his wife's death, he has started a foundation to help newly bereaved parents; in two years, the Liz Logelin Foundation has given away $65,000 in small grants. Matt Logelin does not draw a salary, but donates his time.
He will be in town later this month and next for a book signing. We caught up with him by phone at his home in Los Angeles.
Q How's Maddy doing?
A She's doing really, really well. She's just the happiest little kid you ever met, up until nap time. It's just incredible to see a child that was born that early and having had to deal with so much stuff, what a courteous individual she is. And what a nice little baby I've raised into being a toddler.
Q By the end of the book, it had been one year since Liz's death. You'd grown, you'd mourned, you'd healed in many ways, learned to be a dad, started a foundation -- it was an incredible year. How has your life changed since then?
A I quit my job [with Yahoo] in December 2009 to go write the book. Maddy was 17-18 months old. We moved to India for two months and lived there with a nanny so that I could write, and we traveled. We went up to Nepal, and Singapore, and we were all over northern India. We were retracing the steps I had taken with her mother. We spent much of her second year doing that.
Q How did you come to write the book? And I need to note that the very first sentence reads, "I am not a writer."
A I got approached to write a book a month after Liz died. A month. I said there's no way. First of all, I'm not a writer. Second of all, I'm incapable -- I'm just not ready for something like that. The woman said, "Keep in touch; let's talk when you're ready." That was a kind of encouragement for me, to think of myself as something more than just some guy with a blog.
I had to find the right publisher to allow me to write the way that I do, to use the words that I do, to be as raw as I can. Some people criticize the swearing in the book, but I think it's well placed, it's trying to convey an emotion. And it's the way I talk.
Q How long did it take you to write it?
A I wrote the first third in roughly seven days. That part for me was the part that I went to bed with every single night. The thoughts that I had, the memories I had of Liz in the hospital room. I couldn't shake it. And so to get that first part of the book out really helped me heal a lot, which sounds a little trite, but it's true.
Q How about the rest of it?
A For the rest of it, it was probably close to nine months. There was a lot of editorial work. I give my editor tons of credit. She did a lot of great things, not only cutting things out, but drawing a lot out of me. She knew when I was holding feelings back, and she would push me and push me and push me to give greater details about things.
Q You have a new woman in your life. How does she cope with Liz being such an enormous part of your life?
A Her name is Brooke, and she's actually from Minnesota. She's really great. It's a real struggle for someone to be in this situation, I think. She never met Liz, they never knew each other, I didn't meet Brooke until a couple of years after Liz died, and that was because she was volunteering for the foundation.
But she's been instrumental in sharing the memories of Liz, and talking about things in the house that belonged to Liz. There are times when Maddy will say, "I don't have a mommy." And Brooke will take her over to a photo of Liz and say, "You do have a mommy, and you have a Brookie." It's a very tough position to be in. All of this is about Liz, the woman in my life who died, and the one who is still living is kind of pushed to the wayside by a lot of people.
Q How do you keep Liz's memory alive for Maddy?
A That's one of the hardest questions for me. The first couple of months I was telling her stuff, but I really was trying to keep Liz's memory alive in my own head. I had to hold onto those memories for Madeline.
We also spend a lot of time with Liz's parents, who still live in Minnesota. They're the other set of people who remember Liz better than I do. That, and the book, and the blog, are my way of saying, "Here's what I remember about your mom."
Laurie Hertzel • 612-673-7302