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

This morning, I notice a tinge of blush in my piss. It’s on the tissue.

Surely this isn’t menstrual blood. My runny bloodies, I called them, drew to a close six years ago. I piss again. There it is again. Damn.

Why couldn’t this have happened two or three years ago? If it had, maybe it would have sensitized me to Ernie’s fear and worry when he pissed rusty chips and flakes and pulpy tissue and blood.

Is anxiety over Charles Street finally showing up in me? Is that what’s causing this?

When Ernie and I were together, I was rarely sick. I didn’t know what sick was. What it felt like. Now I’m beginning to. It makes me want my mother. It makes me think of dying. It scares me. It makes me feel helpless. It makes me want someone to help me. It makes me want someone to hold me. It makes me needy.

No wonder Ernie thought and felt what he did. In the last decade of his life, he faced coronary-artery blockage, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, gall-bladder removal, and a recurrence of bladder cancer. Dying must have been on his mind all the time.

“You have remarkable powers of recovery, Ernie,” I once said to him.

“You think I’m Superman, Ernestina. I’m not.”

No, he wasn’t. No one is.



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My writer husband’s favorite nickname for me was Ernestina, so in this 3-book memoir, he is Ernie. This is his story, our story, and my story. I invite you in.