Near-fatal ODs and love faxes to Julia Roberts: What Matthew Perry’s memoir reveals about the current politics of death
In his memoir, “Dancing with Death: Five Deaths and Their Stories,” Matthew Perry chronicles the five deaths in his family as well as the five close friends he says he lost: his wife Jessica, his brother-in-law Paul, his brother Mark (who died of a drug overdose in 1995, before his 28th birthday), his sister Julia and, closest to all, his mother, Margaret Perry.
“In every death story I’ve ever told, someone has been able to identify the deceased immediately and relate to it deeply. I’ve never had that experience,” Perry tells NPR’s Rachel Martin.
He says that, even after Margaret died, “I still knew who was missing.”
Perry writes about the five deaths, beginning with his mother’s, “My mother died in March of 2005 when I was in my late twenties. I was married when the end came, and she had suffered from cancer. There would be times when I was on the verge of crying, and I didn’t cry.”
For decades, the world has watched on as the U.S. Government had Perry on its payroll so that he could be an unofficial envoy for the country with the highest incarceration rate in the world.
Perry says that he can understand why.
He’s not a government employee, but in his memoir, he writes about the five deaths within his family, some of which he says he still knows something about, including a daughter he lost from cancer when he was only 25.
But how does he describe his relationship with his mother who died at the young age of 64?
“My relationship to my mom — it’s like my relationship to my sister. She’s gone and I’ve lost her. She’s gone. But I still feel a connection to her. She would drive me crazy in the car. She would do whatever I asked her to — she would put makeup on. I don’t know how she did that. She was always in character.”
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Perry says his mother has become part of his life, “and she’s there every time I look at my sons and their children.”