At 7:00 on the morning of December 3, 1999,
in the bed we shared, Julie Showalter,
my beloved, fiercely smart, wickedly sexy wife,
died from cancer diagnosed the week
of our wedding nearly 20 years earlier.
I miss her every day.
Things have changed since Julie died thirteen years ago.1
December 3, 2012 finds me still in love with Julie, and, indeed, I still miss her every day. I am also, however, profoundly, unabashedly, recklessly in love with Penny, who became my wife just over a year ago.
And, while my schedule for December 3rd begins, as it has every year since I began blogging, with this commemorative post, obsessing over Julie’s death won’t be my sole occupation today. I will also set up our Christmas tree, pay a few bills, read a novel that is turning out to be better than I expected, respond to the emails that piled up over the weekend, … . I may even post something about Leonard Cohen because, for now, that seems to be what I do. I’ll spend time with Penny, we’ll plan our holiday activities, we’ll commiserate over the latest crisis caused and consequent grief suffered by my son, and we’ll generally perform whatever daily tasks husbands and wives in our cohort perform around here this time of year.
In addition, we’ll be thinking of Penny’s husband Don, who died in 2009, and Julie. Having been privileged to have been married to individuals who both happened to be gracious, enchanting, affectionate, talented, lusty, and caring, we tenaciously guard our memories of them, confident that the joyfulness thus gained far exceeds the pain, however poignant, suffered in the process.
Neither of us, you see, was then – or is now – willing to forsake the treasures we accumulated from years of cherishing and being cherished for the numbing anesthesia of an obliterated memory.
That’s the way the emotional arithmetic works. Our experiences with Julie and Don are additions to, not losses from our lives as individuals and our life together.
In My Not So Secret Life
There is a certain cognitive dissonance implicit in posting a video called “And We’re Still Making Love In My Secret Life – A Video For Julie” as a public video on YouTube – and then writing blog entries about it.2 Nonetheless, the underlying theme – my passion for Julie since the moment I met her – remains valid. Beside, “In My Intrapsychic Life” doesn’t scan as well.
The following excerpt is from And We’re Still Making Love In My Secret Life – A Video For Julie, a post about the making of this video:
In fact, Julie was a vital part of the core of my interior reality from the day I met her, although she was, during the first eight years of that time, a singularly chaste component of my private universe, as I pointed out in the first part of Julie’s Story, This Is How A Love Story Began:
And, starting then, we spent time together, at first studying together, sharing lunch, and, most often, just talking. It was all quite innocent, because, as I would glibly but accurately note when retelling our story to friends — at that point, Julie was still married, and I was still Christian.
But all that was to change.
That change included not only the two of us living together for almost 20 years in an outrageously happy marriage but also her continued presence in my thoughts in the years since her death.
In My Secret Life
by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson
I saw you this morning.
You were moving so fast.
Can’t seem to loosen my grip
On the past.
And I miss you so much.
There’s no one in sight.
And we’re still making love
In My Secret Life.
I smile when I’m angry.
I cheat and I lie.
I do what I have to do
To get by.
But I know what is wrong,
And I know what is right.
And I’d die for the truth
In My Secret Life.
Hold on, hold on, my brother.
My sister, hold on tight.
I finally got my orders.
I’ll be marching through the morning,
Marching through the night,
Moving cross the borders
Of My Secret Life.
Looked through the paper.
Makes you want to cry.
Nobody cares if the people
Live or die.
And the dealer wants you thinking
That it’s either black or white.
Thank G-d it’s not that simple
In My Secret Life.
I bite my lip.
I buy what I’m told:
From the latest hit,
To the wisdom of old.
But I’m always alone.
And my heart is like ice.
And it’s crowded and cold
In My Secret Life.
I’ve Missed Julie For For A Long, Long Time
- Same Date, Same Song, Same Memories Of Julie
- And Then She Was Not
- A Lifetime Together Will Not Be Enough
- This Is How A Love Story Began
- Kept In My Heart
- Dying is simple, What’s worst is the separation
- Now, We Both Miss Julie
- Madeleines – And Hong Kong Egg Cakes – From Reading About Alice By Calvin Trillin
- Reading Julie’s Letters On Our Anniversary
- Julie Liked Yellow Roses On Her Birthday
- Making Seared Tuna
- Julie, 11th Century Chinese Poetry, And “Build Me Up, Buttercup”
- Carol Shields On Living, Writing, Cancer, and Julie
- Madeleines From Reading Back When We Were Grownups
- Julie Showalter was a spectacular woman and, for far too brief a time, the center of my life. The strange and wondrous story of how Julie and I met, fell in love, and – 9 years, 2 husbands, 1 wife, and 2 careers later – got together to spend a magnficient20 years together before her death, her prize-winning writing, and the life we shared are featured in many posts at this site. See Julie Showalter FAQ. [↩]
- Of course, the same notion of cognitive dissonance applies to writing and then performing “In My Secret Life” all over the world to thousands of people, but Mr Cohen and Ms Robinson would, I suppose, claim artistic license. [↩]