ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 151: Talk of Failure, Talk of Success
Toward the end of his life but before he knew he was dying, Ernie said: “I don’t feel like a failure. I’ve done what I wanted to do.”
But at the end, when life was truly leaving him, he said: “Take all these manuscripts into a field and burn them. What’s the point? I’m a failure.”
When he said these words to me, I remained mute and unmoving.
As I type this, it’s over a decade later. So much I know and understand now about Ernie, about me, that I didn’t then. I would be receptive now. I would be responsive. I would affirm his great courage, his resourcefulness, his optimism throughout his life, his compassion, his creativity, his kindness. I would draw him to me and hold him close. In my softest voice I would tell him how lucky I was to be sharing a life with him. How he was the biggest influence on my life. How grateful I was to him that he married me, that he was the good father to our son.
I don’t get a second chance with Ernie. He’s gone.
What I’ve learned: how I relate to myself and to the people in my life is the starting point. Everything else in my life flows from this.
The measure of my success? It resides in the quality of my relationships.