On Tuesday, Aug. 28, the Greensboro Public Library held a book reading in honor of the late Nina Riggs, an American author and poet, who passed away last year from breast cancer.
The event was co-sponsored by Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro. The late Nina Riggs’ widower, John Duberstein, shared his thoughts and shed some light on “The Bright Hour,” the memoir Riggs wrote regarding her life-changing experience when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
According to Duberstein, the memoir is not only about his wife’s struggles with accepting that she was ill with terminal cancer, but struggles with how that would impact her family.
The room quickly filled up with adults of all ages who were eager to hear the work of Riggs, and Duberstein’s perspective as well. The room had a rather friendly and easy atmosphere as Duberstein was comfortable and open with discussing his late wife. He gave some insight into a spouse’s outlook on the life-changing events.
In an interview, Duberstein explained the thought behind his wife’s decision to write a memoir. He explained that the memoir hadn’t originally started as a project, but rather on a website where people facing medical conditions could communicate called CaringBridge, but it quickly outgrew and morphed into the memoir.
When asked about the life-changing journey not only for her, but the impact that Riggs’ diagnosis left on her family, Duberstein stated that although she accepted that she was terminal, her biggest struggle was being a mom and passing young. “As a mom, being young and dying was really just you know- it was beyond her ability to put in a good place,” said Duberstein.
Duberstein simply said that it was the one thing she could never resolve, and she continued to wrestle with it for the remainder of her life.
He further added that when it came to publishing the memoir, the only hesitations she had were when it came to the privacy of her family.
Like any good husband, he expressed that he was very supportive of her writing. Duberstein concluded that he didn’t mind the public knowing what was going on in their lives during that hard time.
In addition, Duberstein spoke about how he was chosen to promote her memoir. Before her passing, he explained that he and Riggs discussed it together. They agreed that he would be the one to spread the message and bring more awareness to her story.
Duberstein continued to discuss the positive aspect of promoting her memoir, stating that he enjoyed playing his role and that passing on her message makes him feel close to her. Although he feels that he can’t speak for Nina directly, and sometimes worries if he is a good representative for her.
“It’s sort of a love-hate… there’s a part of it that’s like I can’t speak for Nina, I will never be able to speak for Nina directly. And [the book] is like her magnum opus,” says Duberstein on the subject of being a messenger for Nina’s story.
If you have a love for reading and are interested in a life changing, inspiring story, check out Nina Riggs’s memoir, “The Bright Hour.”