Someone told me that after a while, all you remember are the good things. I’ll remember Karen as she was when we met, when we married, when she gave birth to Jake . . . all those good years we had together (although I suspect she would have a problem calling them “good” years; but they were good, given the hand that we were dealt). And I won’t be so focused on the last year, the last few months, the last hour. I’ll stop beating myself up.

Because there’s a special horror in this for a doctor, this second-guessing, this wondering — why didn’t I notice that? Why didn’t I take that into account?

Part of me wants to run into a room full of {insert ethnic group here} and yell, “{insert situationally appropriate ethnic slur here},” get the shit kicked out of me, and feel like I’ve paid some tiny percentage of penance for not being a better husband. A better doctor. But then I would be a piss poor father, and I know I owe far more of a duty to the living than to the dead.

So we made it to Asilomar, which is one of my favorite places to be. We drove first to San Jose, to meet up with Karen’s mom, sister, and her sister’s family. Also wanted to pick up a nice vase for some of Karen’s ashes (we’ll be scattering most at sea) but the store was closed today. We’ll have to go back. It was Karen’s favorite store for Japanese ceramics.

It was a hard day for me. I don’t know if Jake noticed. The drive on the 152, Casa de Fruta, the drive up to San Jose — it took me back to my first year with Karen. We made that trip just before she got sick. Back when we thought we had our whole amazing lives ahead of us. These should be great memories. Instead, I’m just depressed and angry.

But it’s good to be in Asilomar. The grounds smell like wood smoke, pine trees, and the sea. I can breathe a little easier here.



  1. Chris says:

    Remembering does get easier with time. Small consolation for you now, I’m afraid, but the edges of grief do eventually get a little softer.

  2. Walnut says:

    Thanks. I think I’m still in the phase where I’ll think I’m better, then I’ll have a, “HAH! FOOLED YOU!” kind of day, where it’s just as sharp as ever.

  3. Chris says:

    I still have those with my dad – out of the blue, for no apparent reason. I teared up over a jar of horseradish at the deli the other day. But you kind of get used to those moments eventually, and accept them. Someone (who has never been married) told my mom “You just have to get over it”, which I thought was the stupidest comment. What does it say about your relationship if you can get over it? But you’ll eventually find a new equilibrium.

  4. Walnut says:

    Just when I think that the folks who haven’t “been through it” are useless and can’t understand, I find someone who can. And then I find someone who HAS been through it, who is still ignorant. It’s weird.