To mark the anniversary of McNamara’s death, the 48-year-old comedian posted a message to Facebook. “One year in. Another year starting. It’s awful, but it’s not fatal,” he writes, recalling how his day started on April 21, 2016. He let Michelle sleep in while he took their daughter to school.
“I stopped on the way home to buy Michelle an Americano and left it on her bedside table around 9:30 a.m. Went up to my office, did some writing, answered some e-mails, Tweeted some thoughts on Prince dying,” he shares. “There was an art show at Alice’s school in the afternoon and my wife and I were going to go, get dragged around the room by Alice as she chattered about her artwork and the work of her classmates. Except instead I came back down into the house and the life I knew was gone.”
He continues, “I’m one year into this new life — one I never even imagined, and I can imagine some pretty pessimistic and dark contingencies, some stomach-freezing ‘what ifs.’ But not this one. This one had such a flat, un-poetic immediacy. The world gazes at you like a hungry but indifferent reptile when you’re widowed.”
Oswalt reveals he just took his wedding ring off for the first time.
“Removing the ring was removing the last symbol of denial of who I was now, and what my life is, and what my responsibilities are,” he says. “I put the ring in this little box I’d had made … and filled with it random trinkets and scraps of our life leading up to marriage. The first movie we went to after moving in with each other, the first movie premiere we went to, hotel keys and love notes and pictures.”
The comedian posted photos of the box along with one with Michelle.
“Michelle brought me nothing but happiness. You see it in our faces,” he writes, referencing the below picture. “That was taken literally a month after we started going out. Look at us. We knew this was it.”
The ring goes with the “happy stuff.”
“I’m not making today any sort of dark ritual or painful memorial. No graveside visit. Those are for when Alice and I have something exciting to say to her,” he reveals. “No candle lighting or balloon launching. We think of her every day… So why light a flame that will die, or release a balloon that will disappear? Michelle’s gone but she wasn’t the kind of soul that disappears or dies out.
“I’m gonna pick Alice up at school later. She wants to go to a pet store and buy ‘worms that will grow into beetles,’” Oswalt says. “She’s becoming a cool bug girl and Michelle would have thought that was hilarious (Michelle HATED insects). Then we’ll go get ice cream. Or go home and play a game. I’m her dad. I want to make her days fun.”
Still, The Goldbergs narrator acknowledges his world is different.
“I’ve become friends with a lot of other people who share my tragedy. We’re an informal, subtle little club,” he says. “No rankings or initiation ceremonies or secret handshakes. And no, we don’t ‘see it [in] each other’s eyes’ or ‘sense it without saying it.’ We went through something that transformed us but, for the most part, we keep it together. We lost someone who made us live better in the world. It would be an insult to them [to] suddenly live badly in this world.”
Oswalt continues: “I plan things better. I’m more patient. I still sleep badly, and my weight and health need some work, but that’s combat damage. There’s got to be a way to fix those without being s***** to friends and strangers who are struggling with chaos. I’ll try.”
McNamara was a crime writer and ran the website TrueCrimeDiary, where she discussed both breaking news and cold cases. Before her death, she was trying to track down a murderer who committed 50 rapes and killed 12 people in California between 1976 and 1986 before disappearing. She dubbed him “the Golden State Killer.”
“She had a mind for the details of true crime the way other people have for baseball or me for films,” Oswalt says in a sneak peek at the upcoming 48 Hours: The Golden State Killer special airing on Saturday. “She could recall the details of pretty much every late 20th and 21st century crime. It was just in her head.”
McNamara was traveling all over California to retrace the killer’s steps and was exhausted from the search. On April 20, 2016, Oswalt told her to sleep in the next day. She never woke up. An undiagnosed heart condition combined with the medications Adderall, Xanax, and the pain medication Fentanyl proved lethal. She was 46.
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