ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: The Writer, His Wife, and their Afterlife
Book One, Part Two, Chapter 55: Lunch with Jeanette
Jeanette and I meet for lunch at the cafe. She’s practiced Buddhism for the past twenty years and is just back from a silent retreat in upstate New York.
That’s right: no talking. It’s meditation. It’s a retreat into oneself, a communing with oneself.
Jeanette orders a portobello sandwich with chips. I have the broccoli-cheese soup. We talk so much, we’re slow to finish our food.
“The retreat helped me see my life not as a set of problems but as a series of moments,” she says. “I try not to call anything a problem. It’s what comes up, and what I respond to. I’m hoping to learn better ways to respond.”
Her sister-in-law called shortly after she returned home, asking to visit the next day. “Ordinarily, this would’ve sent me into High Flutter. I’d be scurrying about, arranging and re-arranging. This time I didn’t go into fluster mode. She said a few things that ordinarily would have upset me, but I changed my response. Changing my response made her change hers. We got unstuck.”
Jeanette is small. Her Jim was big. He protected her.
“My life sucks,” she says. “Jim’s never coming back. Never. He’s gone. That life is gone. I hope to become clear-headed. To make good decisions. If I don’t, I have to bear the consequences. It’s all on my shoulders now.”
Assuming responsibility. Making decisions. Thinking about consequences. For better or for worse, Ernie did all that for me, didn’t he?
I have a lot to learn. I can learn from Jeanette.