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

Book One, Part Two, Chapter 129: Night and Day and Suckers

It’s five-fifteen in the morning. Not unusual for me to be up, considering I went to bed at two yesterday afternoon and slept until almost midnight. Lately, these have been my hours.

I always talk to Ernie before I go to sleep. What do I talk about?

Lately, it’s been my latest theories on why we grew distant from each other. And I realize, through this writing, that our problems surfaced way back. Really, from the beginning.

That I didn’t know there was a problem? That was part of my self-delusion. Or rationalization. Or lack of self-knowledge. Or lack of emotional connection. Whatever you want to call it. All true.

Ernie knew there was a problem. What he didn’t know was why I was the way I was. He thought I didn’t love him. He didn’t know I was incapable of truly loving myself or anyone else.

So, I discuss with Ernie these kinds of things. My theory about our ego states, too. How we were both intimidated child and dominating parent with each other, see-sawing back and forth. Sometimes we were the angry child with each other. Sometimes we were nurturing parents, I guess, or curious children. Rarely, though, were we mature, secure adults at the same time. Very rarely was I a mature, secure adult at any time. Only now have I become aware of all this.

Eventually I fall asleep, only to awaken once again to the horrible reality that Ernie’s dead. This is the hardest part of my day — my awakening. It takes me hours before I finally roll up my pallet and walk slowly to the kitchen to put on water for oatmeal and green tea.

The tea is bracing. I understand now why Ernie liked it. I feel a strength coming from it as I drink it. I eat a half-serving of the oatmeal with raisins; the rest I will eat before the day is done.

How will the day be done?

I’ll go to the grocery or the library or the bank or the dollar store or the cafe, but each time I pass through an entrance, I am once again acutely aware that I am alone. Sometimes I went to these places by myself when Ernie was alive, but I never felt alone. He was always somewhere, waiting for me.

I write, and as I write, I suck on suckers — my latest food fad. When I was young, I sucked my thumb. My mother painted my thumb blue, so I finally stopped sucking my thumb, but I’m sure I suck on suckers for the same reason I sucked my thumb.

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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.