“The one thing the pandemic has given me is time to process and sit with the feelings,” the comedian and host of podcast WTF told the New York Times in a new interview. “I cry every day. The shock and the trauma have dissipated a little bit, so now I deal with the loss. I have her jacket that she always wore, and her hat and boots. I have the shirt that I met her in. I touch these things when I can and try to keep her with me. But to answer your question, it’s been challenging to be in this much sadness in a fairly hopeless world.”
Shelton was just 54. The director, who helmed several independent movies and episodes of multiple TV series, including Little Fires Everywhere, The Morning Show and Maron, died of an unidentified blood disorder.
At the time of her death, Shelton had been dating Maron for about a year. The two actually met in 2015, when Shelton was a guest on Maron’s show, and they felt a connection. However, both were with other people.
“Once it got to a point where she had resolved some stuff in her relationship,” Maron said, “and we were able to acknowledge a real love for each other, I actually said to her — there was drama here — I said, ‘Look, if we don’t try this, whatever’s going on here, I’m going to regret it for the rest of my life.’ And so, we did.”
Maron and Shelton kept their relationship quiet for several months, but they went public with it in 2019. It feels to him like they were together much longer.
“This quarantine was not the greatest of situations but it accelerated things,” Maron said. “It enabled us to double up our time together. She had moved all her stuff down here and we were together all the time.”
Maron continues to mourn what the couple could have had. Shelton died so suddenly. He recalled that one Friday morning she mysteriously woke up with swollen glands, and the next he found her collapsed.
“I called the ambulance and she was dead within 18 hours. Acute myeloid leukemia is what’s on the death certificate,” Maron revealed. “Organ failure is the primary cause and then acute myeloid leukemia is what they signed off on.”
Maron went to the hospital and spent a few moments with Shelton’s body.
“It was the heaviest thing I’ve ever done. It was just devastating,” he said. “I was blown out, totally traumatized. Totally heartbroken.”
Still, Maron is grateful for the time he had with Shelton. He said it changed him.
“I knew that we were just beginning something and I was very excited to have felt that. I was still difficult — it wasn’t hostile, it was just kind of childish. But she seemed to understand that,” he explained. “That opened up my heart aperture a little bit, to experience things differently. Once I’d gotten to that place, I could take that openness in the world. I didn’t have to be afraid of it anymore. The challenge now is to not get bitter or sad or angry. How do I not do that? How do you stay loving in something as relentless as what’s going on now? I don’t know. I sit on my porch and it’s nice out here. It was a lot to lose. But I just try to stay in her light as much as I can.”
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