Eight weeks ago, as the fingers of dawn poked through the cold eastern skies of Chicago, my darling wife Jerrle left this Earth from metastatic breast cancer. She took one final snorting breath, released it, and that was that. To a mountain, eight weeks is a mere blink in eternity. But I’m not Rushmore, so it still hurts like hell. On top of that, a month ago, I experienced the unique joy of emergency gall bladder surgery.
But I’m still here, and here I intend to stay.
So I’m writing this to thank you for your unceasing support and friendship through two life-changing experiences. Physically, I’ve recovered. The surgery went great. I can eat whatever I want except deep-fried, grease-drenched food, and I can exercise and lift as much weight as my body can handle. Which is coming in handy for the vast changes I’m making to Castle Gericke, from new furniture to complete redecoration of most rooms, all of which I designed with one goal: Making it easy to manage my joint solo. An odd word, “my,” and one I never thought would apply to me. Then again, neither did anyone who survived the death of a loved one, whether from crime, accident, disease, or old age. We are members of The Club Nobody Wants to Join, because the dues are unaffordable.
Emotionally, my days alternate between somewhat-sunny blues and ambers to lightning-jag purples and blacks. I’m never ecstatic, which I miss greatly because I loved being ecstatic at a new discovery, the perfect turn of a phrase, or the color-drench of a sunset. Then again, I’m never so forlorn I want to stick a gun in my mouth. Everyone who’s been through the loss of a longtime lifemate assures me the grief piano plays many black keys . . . but just enough whites to keep your sanity.
I have found this to be true. My life is getting better, little by little, like a bookworm inching its way through Moby Dick. But that’s all right. I have all the time in the world. I have my writing, a home I’ve loved for decades, and enough income to live without having to ask, “Do you want fries with that?” I have friends and family who love me and I love in return, two sisters I would die for, terrific editors and agents, a publishing community that supports me and I hope to get back to supporting like I did when I joined it in 2006 with the debut of BLOWN AWAY, memories of 40 years with a funny, smart, and noble woman who died with more grace than I thought possible given her terror at being trapped in a body betraying her so violently, and the good fortune of being able, two months after the worst event of my 59 years on Earth, to write this piece without worry you’ll think it’s stupid.
So, thank you for being there for Jerrle and me. I shall try to return the favor if and when you ever need it.
With admiration and affection,
Your Humble Correspondent
P.S. And lest this get too maudlin, allow me the pleasure of introducing the very best use of “humble” in American television history: