As we bid good riddance to 2009, Inside Edition Chief Correspondent Jim Moret has written a book that is at once his memoir and his heartfelt confession: The Last Day of My Life. Like so many Americans, Moret found himself mired in the problems brought on by the real estate and banking crash of the past year and a half. On the brink of losing everything, Moret – who had spent most of his life as the golden child, the guy to whom everything came easily – found himself obsessing about committing suicide.
Moret spent 1992-2001 as a Los Angeles-based anchor at CNN, hosting Showbiz Today and, in later years, The World Today with Wolf Blitzer and Joey Chen. Over the course of 25 years, Moret has covered such major stories as O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial and Scott Peterson’s double-murder trial. When he left CNN in 2001, he was earning nearly $750,000 annually.
The news business isn’t known for its job security, and in 2001, Moret was given a choice: move to Atlanta or leave the network. At the time, he and his wife, Keri, were having problems and considering separation. If Moret left L.A., he knew he would have a hard time repairing the rift with his wife. On the advice of Tom Johnson, then CNN’s president, Moret chose to leave CNN and stay in Los Angeles. That decision kept his family intact but wreaked havoc on his finances. With virtually no income, Moret quickly fell deeply in debt trying to keep up with his mortgage and private-school education in Los Angeles for his three children.
To cover his costs, Moret ended up taking out a sub-prime loan that saved him in the short-term but eventually made matters far worse. By April 2008, Moret was having a hard time seeing a way out: “Making matters even worse, selling the house was no longer a viable option,” he writes. “Because of the market’s precipitous fall, our home was now worth less than the amount we owed on it. As a result, I not only faced losing my home, but also defaulting on our mortgage and wiping out my good credit for years to come.
“The timing of this impending crisis only heightened my sense of despair and hopelessness. My financial meltdown did not hit when I was out of work, but rather several years after my career was already back on track. I had reestablished my career and it was even on an upward swing.”
It was then that Moret grew depressed and started wondering if he was better off dead.
“It was similar to the famous scene in the Frank Capra classic It’s a Wonderful Life, where Jimmy Stewart is about to jump off a bridge an angel-in-training asks him if he would like to see what the world would be like if he had never lived. Like Stewart’s character, intense financial stress and pressures had literally blinded me to the simplest and most important joys in my own life.
“But my question to myself didn’t center on what if I had never lived, but rather what if I had one day left to live. How would I react? What would I choose to cherish and appreciate? What was really important after all? I am a reporter. Why not take on the story of my life to search out the answers?”
From those questions, grew Moret’s book. “Initially, I wrote this for myself,” he said in an interview. “I decided to retrench and look at what was really important in life beyond money. I don’t look at writing this book as being brave at all, but just as being real. I wouldn’t have gotten any value out of this as a writer and you wouldn’t get any value as a reader if I wasn’t totally honest.”
Moret tells the stories of his life via a series of concepts: gratitude, friendship, love, sacrifice, commitment and so forth. “Even though these are my stories, hopefully people will pick out one or two chapters they can relate to,” he says.
Today, Moret’s marriage is healthy, his family is fine and his career is thriving but he’s hardly out of the woods with regard to his finances. But now he never spends one second considering suicide: “While I’m still clinging to the lifeboat financially, I have redefined what my purpose is. [Writing this] was very therapeutic. That’s how I got through. I came out the other side stronger, more confident and with a greater sense of purpose.
“The point of this book is to uplift and inspire. I’m hopeful that when you close the last page you go, ‘wow, I can really relate to this.’”
The Last Day of My Life comes out tomorrow, Jan. 5, and is published by Phoenix Books.