Wife Interrupted

How one woman is navigating a family tragedy and single motherhood—in a very public way.
December 2011

Some couldn’t believe Tricia was putting so much of her life—and all of her hurt—on display. This only made her write more: about the struggles of married life, and how she and Robb had battled through a troubled stretch to save their relationship.

She still writes, in contemplative bursts, about everyday struggles for what she guesses is a predominantly female audience. There are entries about squishy brakes, burned-out lightbulbs, recycling chores. Her post from July 13 sums up why she continues: “Who do I write for? Is it for you? The invisible you, who might read it? Is it for me? The tangible me that spills and wants the page to catch me? Is it for the therapy of sorting the words, stringing them together, emptying my mind, pouring out my heart?…If I write today with a sprinkling of my yesterday and my tomorrow, perhaps I’ve found the beginning of balance. And so I write.”

Naturally, the grief lingers. One day this fall, a teacher at Tucker’s school spotted Tricia. The woman’s husband had died seven months before Robb.

“I have something in common with you,” the teacher said.

Tricia smiled. “You’re the one they’ve been telling me about.”

“I am,” the woman said. “And I’m sorry you’re in this club.”

“I hate it.”

“I hate it too,” the woman said. “I wish I could tell you the second year is easier. Everyone’s telling you it will be, right? I have to tell you, it sucks in a whole different way.”

Tricia recently ran a 5K race and was soothed by the rhythm of the run: one foot in front of the other, staying on the same path, fighting through the pain. Soon she’ll return to the University of Denver to pursue a master’s degree in creative writing. Someday, she says, she might write a book about all this. Robb always told her he’d retire early and she’d become a writer. “He did retire early,” Tricia says, “and now I am the writer.”

She took off her wedding ring, only recently, to end the “charade” she felt she’d been playing on herself since Robb died. She polished it and put it away in a drawer, and it left her ring finger indented and pale white across that ribbon of skin—a “reserved seat,” she called it. After a few minutes, she got the ring out of the drawer, and then quickly put it back. She reconsidered and got it out again. This time she slipped it on her right hand. She stared at the ring Robb gave her as it gleamed in its new place.

Robert Sanchez is 5280’s senior staff writer. Email him at [email protected].