Passion and pain bring ‘Love’s Journey Home’

Someone once told me we have just one truly passionate love in our lives. Sometimes it’s our lifelong partner, but not always. In her memoir, "Love’s Journey Home" (Atmosphere Press), Gabi Coatsworth puts that theory to the test and ultimately validates it.

In many ways, I don’t think Coatsworth’s story is unique. A working mother of two living in the United Kingdom gets divorced. Tries to climb the corporate ladder on her own terms where she faces hurdles each step of the way. Always the pragmatist, though, even or especially when it comes to affairs of the heart, Coatsworth admits, “Loving someone could only end in disaster.”

But alas, Prince Charming, a.k.a. Jay Wilson, arrives on the scene. He’s intelligent, handsome and hot. But, wouldn’t you know? He’s married with children and lives an ocean away in the United States.

But wait! They are each other’s truly passionate love. They just have to come together, right? And so they do. Jay and Gabi eventually get married. The almost-fairy tale continues. They live in an upscale Connecticut town and have a comfy home in New Hampshire. They merge their growing children into one family the best way they know how, handling the myriad of challenges teenagers bring to even the most solid relationships.


Not to be outdone by teenagers’ problems, however, Jay has one of his own. And that’s where the fairy tale ends. Jay’s an alcoholic. At times he’s cruel, most often he’s in denial. At times he tries but fails to break the habit. Instead, it’s the marriage that almost breaks.

As many wives do for their husbands, Gabi tries everything humanly possible, including an intervention to curb Jay’s drinking habits, which over time impact the entire family. Not surprisingly, on more than one occasion she finds herself having to justify staying with him.

Their marriage deteriorates to the point where she admits, “I didn’t hate my husband—I simply couldn’t live with him anymore.” While on the precipice of divorce, life intercedes as it often does, reminding her the words “in sickness” are in marriage vows for a reason.

When Jay is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, we see Gabi not as a resentful wife but as the person we hope is inside of us. Courageous, unselfish, loyal, steadfast, resourceful, strong — Gabi’s journey back to loving Jay comes naturally to her. As they face the prospect of his death, his pain is her pain, and their mutual love carries them through. She concedes, “While we weren’t perfect, we were perfect for each other.”


While we settle in during the first half of "Love’s Journey Home," enjoying the romance and cheering on Gabi and Jay as they overcome obstacles in their path, the second half tests the notion of happily ever after.

What sets "Love’s Journey Home" apart is Coatsworth’s ability to honestly rip off the band-aid many couples use to protect themselves from showing family and friends the truth of their marriages. When she describes the dead pig in her kitchen as her “concept of hell,” we know she’ll survive even when Jay is gone.

Coatsworth shows us the capacity for love truly has no bounds if you’re willing to stay together along the journey, leaving us to ask: What would we have done in a similar situation?


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This story was originally published May 16, 2022 1:00 AM.

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