Life

Radio review: Haunting chronicle of heartbreak

Nuala McCann

As Many Leaves Radio 4

Confessional journalism done badly can be crass and mawkish... but if it is done well, it can be heart rending.

With this kind of radio, you feel you can reach across and wipe a tear from a person's cheek.

Sally Herships' husband, Adnan, left in a cruel way. One night they were playing Trivial Pursuit, the next day, she got an email saying he was never coming back.

He cut off all contact. He did not want to be in touch. No, nothing.

Sally is a financial journalist and her audio diary is about the days and months after her husband left and how she coped.

“I didn't realise how physical a process grief was – like being hit by a car,” she says.

There are memories and there are tears – it felt like a death.

In mourning, she charted the harsh moments – coming home late at night was “incredibly sad”, she said.

“I know he is never going to be here again waiting for me...”

There was tension – she went to Adnan's office to try and talk to him.

Stories have a dramatic moment – that's how it works in fiction. But that is not real life. When she saw him, all he said was: “I have nothing to say.”

She deserved an explanation, she said. But he never gave one.

She got her divorce papers on Christmas Eve... “practically drowning in self pity”, she said.

Sally sets down her vulnerability, her defiance and the effort of dealing with mundane practicalities – living in an apartment in New York, she needs a room mate to pay the bills.

There are milestones like putting up a shelf from Ikea without a husband to help.

Then, there is making an online dating profile: “Go forth... do it!” cries her friend.

This is beautifully fashioned radio from Falling Tree Productions – she lets us in on the minutiae of heartbreak and paints haunting pictures.

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