ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: The Writer, His Wife, and their Afterlife
Book One, Part Two, Chapter 138: Ernie Talk
When Ernie said “I feel tremulous,” as he often did in the last years of his life — when the cancerous tumor was growing in his bladder and we didn’t know it — I just looked at him, then turned away.
If he really was scared, trembly inside, that threatened me. I needed him to always know what to do. To always be able to do it. When he spoke of any emotion that even hinted at fear, I tended to shut my eyes and walk away.
I remember what he said to me in the last year of our life together. “Just when I think I can trust you, you do something like this.” To him, I was turning traitor — forsaking him and placing my faith in Joshua. And he was right. This is what I was doing.
I remember other things he said to me in the last year of our life together.
“After I’m gone, you’ll mourn me for three weeks, then forget me.”
“After I’m gone, you’ll throw out all my papers.”
“After I’m gone, maybe you’ll finally appreciate me.”
And in the hospital, with Joshua and me across the room from him? “I know I shouldn’t feel abandoned, but I do. Come closer.”
I remember all this, and it kills me.