"A Diary for Jordan": Reliving the Pain and Joy of My Deepest Love on Screen

When people hear that a big movie studio, acclaimed director and top actors made a movie about the story of my life, they inevitably ask...


When people hear that a big movie studio, acclaimed director and top actors made a movie about the story of my life, they inevitably ask what I was wearing on the red carpet, who portrayed me. and if I am now recognized at airports.

I understand that I’m living what must seem like a glamorous life, and most of the time, I really am.

I recently had a photoshoot with Denzel Washington. And who wouldn’t want a team of stylists, makeup artists and hairdressers to be driven to Hollywood? But it’s not all champagne and Chanel.

For context, there is actually nothing “Hollywood” about me. I don’t look like a starlet and never had any interest in being. I’m not trying to slip a script for Denzel to consider for his next film. And I don’t care about fame.

So how did my life become a national show in “A newspaper for Jordan“?

I wrote a memoir about the love I shared with the most honorable man I have ever known. His name was Charles Monroe King, and he was devoted to me like no other man has ever been. He called me his queen and treated me like one.

What made our love worthy of a movie was that my gentle warrior was also the first sergeant. King, a highly decorated army chief who in 2005 began writing what has become a 200-page diary for our unborn son, Jordan, while deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He taught our son how to choose a bride, explained the power of prayer, and lovingly wrote about how proud he was to be his father. Charles was killed in action on October 14, 2006, with only one month remaining on his tour of duty.

I was a reporter for the New York Times then and wanted Americans to understand what it was like to open the front door to find military officials standing there to inform you that your soldier had just made the ultimate sacrifice. . The article leads to my book “A Journal for Jordan”, and finally to a film of the same title directed by Denzel and starring Michael B. Jordan and Charles and Chanté Adams like me.

So, yes, I have answers to the obvious questions about turning my life into a movie. Ask me behind the scenes and it’s harder to find the words to describe it. I try to understand everything and appreciate it. But as the movie takes place across the country, I don’t sleep well and I get overworked at times.

I’m a producer on our film but also a single mother with a rewarding but demanding job as the editor of Simon & Schuster’s flagship label. Juggling all the competing demands of my time, as well as promoting films, can be a challenge.

While I’m often so exhausted that my exercise bike has turned into an expensive clothes rack, some nights I struggle to sleep to ward off nightmares. After Denzel sat down with me for a private screening of our movie, I dreamed that I was fighting alongside Charles and watched helplessly being shot down in a hail of gunfire.

Even the excitement of planning the premiere caused pain. Because Charles and I were engaged but not yet married, shopping with my girlfriends for a dress and making the theater seating plan was like planning the wedding we never had.

I am also worried about the impact of the film on my son. Jordan is now 15 years old and is proud that the credits of the film read: “Based on the writing of Charles Monroe King and the book by Dana Canedy.” Sometimes, however, I wonder how he really treats the experience.

For now, he just wants to avoid romantic scenes and cover his eyes and ears during those moments of screening. I laughed, grateful for the lightness of the emotional roller coaster I’ve been riding for months.

Helping develop the script brought flashbacks to the glorious two week vacation when Charles came home to meet our baby boy. But I also remember the time I sobbed when Jordan covered his eyes at the age of 18 months and said, “Hi, daddy. And I remember he walked around the living room like a boy instead of his father.

“Someday,” I told him. “They will adapt someday.”

The early spring day last year, when we filmed a memorial scene at Arlington National Cemetery, was one of the most difficult of my life. Preparations were underway for filming on this holy ground when Denzel shouted at me, “D, let’s go for a walk.”

I got into his car, unsure of where his driver was taking us, until I saw a gravestone with my Charles’s name on it. It was a prop for the stage; Charles is actually buried in a cemetery in his hometown of Cleveland. His mother lived there and said after his death that she needed him nearby.

That day in Arlington, I couldn’t breathe for a second as we approached where we were going to be filming. I collapsed on the ground and hugged the fake gravestone in my arms, tears streaming down my face.

Denzel held my hand and said quietly that he wanted to give me some alone time before the cast and crew arrived. I sat down talking to my Charles, telling him we were on a mission with our movie. I said that we hope to remind people of the power of undying love, of the patriotism that unites us, and hopefully the resilience that is possible after unspeakable loss. Then I laughed and told him that women across the country would soon have a crush on him.

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to share our film with the world. And while some parts are painful to watch, others are funny and uplifting. In the end, it reminded me that even the most difficult times in life can come with blessings.

On the night of the premiere, Jordan helped me out of the car and onto the red carpet wearing a pair of perfectly fitted black dress shoes. I recognized them from the bedroom shelf where they had always sat next to Charles’s Bible. Our son had grown up in his father’s skin.

Dana Canedy is a former New York Times reporter and head of the Pulitzer Prize organization who is now senior vice president and publisher of Simon & Schuster.

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Newsrust - US Top News: "A Diary for Jordan": Reliving the Pain and Joy of My Deepest Love on Screen
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