Carole Radziwill: Death and Other Weird Things

"Signing a divorce document, after you’ve racked up lawyers' bills fighting over who gets the sconces, is not like signing a death certificate."

Everyone talks about everything on this show. And I mean everything. We’ve talked about ex-husbands, ex-boyfriends, shared boyfriends, on/off boyfriends, girls we like, girls we don’t like, dresses, shoes, pets, vacations, anal sex, oral sex, weed, booze and XX. We are all telling stories from the jump…

Here’s a story: A 30-year-old restaurant hostess marries a wealthy man 25 years her senior. They love each other. Deeply. They have a kid. They buy a home, they travel the world, and host parties on yachts. Six years go by, then eight, then 10. The older man’s stories start to dull. The young pretty wife gets restless. Their eyes, once gazed longingly at each other, start to wander. Their marriage is marked by infidelities on both sides until one files for divorce. It’s not so shocking, is it? This story is played out countless times a year across the country. To talk about a marriage over a decade later, as though you had no hand in its demise, is frustrating for those who’ve had to listen to the historical re-write.

And it is definitely not the same as burying a husband—not even close. Signing a divorce document, after you’ve racked up lawyers' bills fighting over who gets the sconces, is not like signing a death certificate. It’s not like having to make life and death decisions when a doctor tells you there is little left to do but hope and pray. So you hope and pray for one more day—please one more day that is all I want. Then I’ll be ready. One more day—but, of course, that is the big lie. You will never be ready when your partner dies in the middle of his young life. You wait as the life and love slowly and painfully ebbs out of him until he is barely recognizable to you any longer. You wait until the man you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with struggles to take his very last breath. Then you wait and sit in the deafening silence that is death still praying, now begging, for one more day. The time between that last breath and the silence can last for eternity. Or at least six years, which is when Dorinda’s late husband Richard died, in the beginning of their life together.

So sure, Dorinda, from time to time, talks about her late husband. And in this way she honors his memory.  This is what we all do—we talk about our loved ones who’ve passed on to keep their memory alive. We tell stories to children, grandkids, and friends. Especially young deaths—those who’ve died before the natural life cycle has ended. We even commemorate the day with flowers or a visit to the grave.

I hardly hear Dorinda talk about Ralph her ex-husband. When she does, it's always in context of her daughter, Hannah. Yet trust me—they all talk about their exes all the time. Except for Tom—no one now wants to talk about Tom. Poor Tom. It’s not all about Tom now. Good riddance.

Torture is sleeping next to the man you are building a life and family with and listening to him breathing and worrying that it might be his last breathe. Worrying that you are making the right medical decisions when he can no longer decide for himself.

If you think torture is worrying you might run into your ex with his new wife or worry that you will never run into him, in my opinion, you’ve been dealt a pretty good hand. And you should give thanks.

As for real estate, this argument over who knows more makes me laugh. Ramona has a nice home, and so does Bethenny. South of the highway, on the highway…who cares? Btw, the highway, constructed in the mid-1920s, is a two lane street. My pal used to write for the real estate section of The Wall Street Journal. She lives in a rented one-bedroom apartment and knows more about real estate than Ramona and Bethenny combined.

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Carole Radziwill

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