ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching

Book Two, Chapter 94: Of Life, Love, and Death

At the close of today’s session with Jene, I ask him a question: “You’re a marriage counselor. What are the issues that pop up time and again with the couples you talk to?”

“I usually like for them to discover these issues for themselves, but the big one is trust. Then finances, parenting, each partner’s extended family, and sex.”

“Trust,” I repeat.

After we shake hands, I head out the door thinking about trust, recalling what Ernie said to me late in our marriage: “You’ve broken trust, and either you go or I go.” Above all else, Ernie valued loyalty. To break his trust, he must have felt betrayed in a deep and essential way.

I feel so unloved now, and I only want to love Ernie and to be loved by Ernie. Jene would call this all-or-nothing thinking. He would want me to think: There’s more than one person in this world we can love, who will love us.

This is true, and this is also true: no one else will love me the way Ernie did. No one else will watch me as he did. No one else will give me the nicknames he did. No one else has his way of thinking and feeling and acting.

I know I will never see Ernie again. I have to conjure him. He’s my friendly ghost, my man in the moon. I’m reminded of him often, yet to be reminded of him and not to be with him is pure torture. I pass the photo of Ernie and Joshua, the passport photo taken in our early days, and it hurts to look at it. I see Ernie’s seriousness. I feel his sense of responsibility.

Now, I live with Death every day. He’s neither my friend nor my enemy. He’s just here. He’s not as strong as Life, yet he outlasts Life. He is ageless.

I’m not. He is. And one day he will come for me.

If I’m lucky, I’ll welcome him.

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Ernestina

My writer husband’s favorite nickname for me was Ernestina, so in this 2-book memoir, he is Ernie. This is his story, our story, and my story. I invite you in.