Welcome to ernieandernestina.medium.com. In Book One’s Part One, I write with deep honesty of my forty-year marriage to Ernie, from its innocent beginning to its tragic end. In Part Two — writing of our Afterlife — I come to know Ernie in an entirely different way. I also come to a truer understanding of myself. Many people appear in these chapters, and all have helped me in my journey of Recovery from grief and denial.

My most recently published chapters appear after this Prologue. Click on MORE FROM ERNESTINA or SHOW MORE to access earlier chapters. To backtrack, click left…


Book One, Part Two, Chapter 115: Cruel Joke

People are not so hard to understand.

When a friend of hers asks Jeanette, my bereavement-group buddy, to lunch at Skyline Chili, she agrees but only if they meet at a Skyline Chili much farther east from the one closer to her. Why? “I’d rather drive twice as far, amid traffic twice as heavy, than visit the particular Skyline Chili that was a hangout for Jim and me.”

We dodge or resist or ignore what we think will hurt us. Simple as that. We fight or flee from or numb out what…


Book One, Part Two, Chapter 114: Fame and Recognition

Daniel Lazar, the literary agent at Writers House, turns down Nine Finches and a Parrot, but another top New York agent, Gail Hochman, who runs her own agency and has for a long time, asks to see the complete manuscript.

Before I mail it, I bless the manuscript with Ernie’s silver cross, the one he bought at Sanborns in Mexico City. I talk to Ernie as I pass the silver cross over his work. “Ernie, you called Nine Finches and a Parrot an allegory of our times, and it is, but…


Book One, Part Two, Chapter 113: Dressed in Armor

At Nearly New — my favorite thrift shop — I find a black velvet headband with golden braiding that’s perfect for Bella. I present it to her and she smiles in glee, immediately putting it on.

“How do I look?” she asks.

“Like a bumble bee,” I say.

“Lots of people tell me I look like Bette Midler. No one’s ever said I look like a bumble bee.” She hurries to the mirror in her bathroom. “Oh, I love it,” she calls out. “You know why? Because it looks like my…


Book One, Part Two, Chapter 112: A Mess, a Failure

For months, Bella has been after me to clean my kitchen’s black-and-white vinyl floor.

She targets the floor, but she can just as easily target the stainless-steel sink, black with gunk; or the stove, splashed with cocoa milk; or the white tiled counter, sprinkled with black pepper and sugar and bread crumbs. And that’s just the kitchen.

Ernie would be aghast at the mess I’ve made of these rooms. “I don’t mind dust or dirt, but I hate clutter,” he often said.

This place is dusty, dirty, and cluttered. Once…


Book One, Part Two, Chapter 111: TNT

Joshua decided to buy the ’64 Volvo, so yesterday he and Christy drove to Redding in a rental car to pick it up.

“It’s funny,” he tells me today on the phone. He’s in the Volvo, parked outside his apartment. “I get it on the road, and all of a sudden its dash lights come on. And the speedometer starts working. And the gas mileage improves. It’s like Christine. It’s coming back to life.”

“Wonderful,” I say. “It didn’t break down on the road.”

“Our rental car did. It had a flat. Luckily…


Book One, Part Two, Chapter 110: Bella and Match.com

Bella’s on Match.com, compliments of her three sons, but most of the men responding to her words and photos are deceivers.

One is separated — not divorced, as he implied — and Bella considers separation still an entanglement.

Another presents himself as a globe-trotting bridge-builder. He asks Bella: “Should I sell my bridge design to the Brits or to the Slavs?” In reality, as her internet research reveals, he sells houses in Florida.

Bella finally uncovers the true motives of a third man, an Italian living in New York: phone sex…


Book One, Part Two, Chapter 109: Our Greatest Teacher

I run into Connie in the lobby. She’s dressed in bright white slacks and a white top printed with a splash of vibrant flowers.

“You look as if you’re going to a garden party,” I say.

“In a way I am. It’s Anne’s birthday today, and I’m taking flowers to her.”

Connie and Anne were life partners and best friends. Anne died about six years ago. Connie is taking flowers to Anne’s memorial stone in the cemetery.

Last Christmas Eve I knocked on Connie’s door to give her a box of…


Book One, Part Two, Chapter 108: Jude’s Gratitude

When I attached myself to Ernie, I distanced myself from everyone else, including my family. Today, I spend an hour or so talking on the phone to my younger sister Jude.

Jude’s a runner. When plantar fasciitis stopped her morning workout with her running buddies, she began an aerobics program. To be sure she increased her heart rate sufficiently, she strapped on a heart monitor, but she noticed that her heart rate went up alarmingly even when she was doing something as easy as taking off a cotton top. She told her…


Book One, Part Two, Chapter 107: Confession

I knock on Bella’s door.

It’s a Friday night. Maybe she’s gone out. But she swings open the door. She’s dressed in a black top and a flirty, horizontally striped black-and-white skirt.

“Are you going out?”

“No. Come in. Take a seat.”

Some day, perhaps soon, I’ll talk to her of someone other than Ernie and something other than my marriage, but not tonight. When she grows impatient with me, I’ll know. She’ll either begin to swing her leg or to nuzzle her cat, Tweed, who stays close to her.

“I never told…

Ernestina

My writer husband’s favorite nickname for me was Ernestina, so in this 3-book memoir, he is Ernie. This is his story, our story, and my story. I invite you in.

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