Jim Forker’s journey to a dream come true overtaken by tragic loss left him searching for answers, and that search brought forward a book that he hopes will in some way help other middle-aged men who have found their perfect life and have had it taken away.
The first-time author has written “The End of the Rainbow” (2021, Archangel Publishing, New York), and the book’s 232 pages in are part his contribution as a widower to what is otherwise a vast amount of literature on coping with loss.
“I was looking for stuff online about to try to find something I could relate to, and there wasn’t much from the perspective of a 43, 44-year-old widowed father. It was mostly a woman’s perspective or a man who had been married for a long time. Part of it was not finding what I needed, and maybe this could help me and others down the road,” explained Forker, a Marion resident and father of three children.
The story, about his connection with former Tabor Academy Health Center Nurse Jen Forker and her subsequent bout with leukemia, took on the form of writing a few months after her October 22, 2018 passing that was mourned by the entire Tabor community.
“But I never anticipated getting it to this point. I mostly did it because I couldn’t sleep, and then it just happened,” said Jim. “It basically started with me just writing stuff down with the goal of not forgetting certain things so me and the kids would have it. I stumbled upon a couple of journals that Jen had written…. One of the journals I didn’t know existed. That got the juices flowing.”
Jim had no prior writing experience, but he and Jen had been together 16 years. “I guess when you know a subject pretty well,” he explained.
In the book, Jim discusses his life as an only child from New Jersey, living on his activities and sports until meeting Jen, then a married woman with whom he found himself smitten. Determined to forget about an unavailable woman, he received word that Jen had separated from her husband. They would merge families and enjoy a blissful life together until Jen was diagnosed with leukemia.
What felt like a perfect world was soon transformed into a challenge of single parenting Ben, Charlotte, and Nora, and learning how to care of Jen through her fight.
After Jen’s passing, Jim poured his energy into fundraising for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and last year Charlotte, a Tabor Academy student, took up the fight by joining the Students of the Year campaign. Charlotte set a fundraising goal of $20,000 and exceeded it, raising over $25,000.
While 2020’s societal conscience was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic and racial and political tension, unrelated crisis was a lonely place for those affected. But at the same time, the shutdown of activities translated into fewer logistical distractions in Jim’s effort to write about his experience.
Until the pandemic hit Massachusetts, Jim “would write a lot for a week or two and then leave it.” During the pandemic, he completed the book.
“For the good or the bad, COVID afforded me the opportunity to spend more time with my kids and gave me time to refocus on the story … because I was home, quarantining and doing what people were doing,” he said. “It allowed me to focus on the story and see it come to fruition because this has been going on two years.”
His children were pivotal in helping him complete the project. “I wouldn’t have gone through with it if I didn’t have their support,” he said.
In an age of self-published books, Archangel Publishing in New York was among other interested publishing companies and has taken on Jim’s story. “I reached out to a few places that do work with memoirs. There were a number of people interested because … there wasn’t a lot from a male perspective,” he noted.
“The End of the Rainbow” is due out June 3 and will be available via Amazon Kindle and in hardcopy.
By Mick Colageo