ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: The Writer, His Wife, and their Afterlife

2 min readApr 26, 2021

Book One, Part Two, Chapter 28: Reaching Out

I awaken at eight, so Ernie’s watch tells me. Way too early to get up, so I duck under the covers again.

Three hours later, a soft voice on the answering machine re-awakens me. It’s Judy, the leader of my grief-support group, returning my call from yesterday. Scurrying into the dreaded bedroom, I pick up the phone. My voice is low, full of sleep.

“Did I awaken you?” Judy asks. “I’m sorry.”

“I was awake at eight, but it’s hard for me to get up, even when I have something to do.”

“We missed you at last night’s meeting,” she says.

“I’m feeling so depressed I’m afraid I’ll bring down the others. May I talk to you?”

“We don’t do individual counseling sessions here, but I’ll be happy to meet with you, to talk.”


“I’m free this afternoon. How about two?”

“I’ll be there.”


Gilda’s Clubhouse is a block beyond the cemetery where Ernie’s name is cut into a stone wall overlooking a silvery lake. As I pass the cemetery’s entrance, I look through its huge iron gates to a long tree-lined drive. Beyond the curving drive is the lake. I haven’t visited the lake, its ducks and swans and geese, since Ernie’s memorial service. I haven’t seen Ernie’s name on stone. I don’t want to.

I go through Gilda’s red door. The woman at the front desk greets me with a smile. Everyone here smiles.

She leads me to a room furnished to look like a living room — sofa with pillows, coffee table atop a colorful rug, built-in shelves with photos and books.

I sit on the sofa, waiting for Judy to claim me.

I need help.




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.