A memoir of love, loss and survival

Niva and Kaz
Niva and Kaz


The History of Us is Niva Dorell’s memoir about being a caregiver, newlywed and widow all in her 40th year, and her subsequent struggle to heal from this devastating loss.

When Niva’s boyfriend of two years, Kenneth (“Kaz”) Smith, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, life abruptly shifted from the path she thought they had been on to a reality that most couples don’t experience until later in life (if at all). Having grown up with a sick mother (and losing her at 22), it also felt strangely inevitable. In the incredibly stressful, light-speed fast 13 months of Kaz’s illness, the couple experienced the lowest of lows and the highest of highs, learning the true meaning of love and courage in the process. Kaz died at age 43, eleven days after their wedding, leaving Niva a newlywed and a widow at age 40.

The History of Us is a rare and honest account of young love, unexpected illness, the challenges of caregiving, and the journey to forgive, heal and rebuild after heart-breaking loss. It bears witness to one of the most intense aspects of being alive and to the transformative power of love. It is sure to move anyone who has ever been in, or lost, love.

Read this essay for more on Niva and Kaz’s story: Saying I Do, And Saying Farewell