Time eventually heals all wounds, but just how much time, one never knows; there is no template. What could be seen as wallowing in grief over Marvel’s death was simply my way of working through it. Unlike those who can let painful events run off of them like water off a duck, or sweep devastation under the carpet, I have to address the pain and process it.
At the time, the combination of not having medical insurance, and not being financially comfortable, kept me from seeking grief counseling. It certainly would have helped. A very turbulent time in our marriage materialized shortly after, but somehow we managed to get back on track.
Marvel’s celebration of life was the following June, and it was a lovely, yet bittersweet event at a clubhouse somewhere at Newport Bay. Numerous guests — myself included — got up in front of the crowd of 100-or-so and told their favorite Marvel story. I started my story with, “I wore this hat because I knew Marvel would love it…,” then told the cat story without using the P-word (since there were kids in the audience), and it drew a lot of laughs, plus an affectionate wink from Vic. I blew him a kiss as I stepped offstage.
Everyone had such wonderful memories to share of Marvel, and there was an array of photos displayed on a long table. It was the perfect way to honor such an extraordinary person. “It was as if she was everyone’s Auntie Mame,” Lynn said, smiling through tears.
Toward the end of the party I noticed Vic starting to weep. Just the same, the celebration not only helped with my own healing process, but also gave everyone that sense of necessary closure.
Chuck and I saw Vic a handful of times after Marvel’s passing, taking him to lunch a couple times, and having him over for one of our parties before we moved to San Diego. He was healing quite well for a 70-something man who had been through the unimaginable (keep in mind he had suffered a heart attack just a few years before); he was even taking long drives to see friends up the coast to Oregon, and even to Texas, where Lynn and Armando had relocated.
The friends and handful of family members that he and Marvel had surrounded themselves with, were mostly the same people who helped him through such an unbearable time, enabling him to move forward, live — and still love — his life. In time, he even acquired a new lady friend.
We continued to exchange Christmas cards with Vic every year, and one time, back around 1997, he came down to San Diego on a day trip with a friend and gave us a blue ceramic fish he had made. It still hangs in our downstairs bathroom, where we have an ocean theme.
Christmas cards from Vic stopped coming about 3-4 years ago, and since we had sort of lost track of him other than that, we’re assuming he may have passed away, since he would be close to 100 by now.
In the relatively short time I knew Marvel, I learned so much: How to live life to its fullest, because it can be swept away in a heartbeat; how friends come in all ages, and limiting yourself to your own age group or generation would be cheating yourself of all kinds of adventures, fun and perspective; how you can have a dirty mind and use 4-letter words at any age; how you can grow old gracefully and still act like a kid; and how horrific things that happen in life can’t erase wonderful memories.
Marvel touched a lot of lives, and although there is no denying that all who loved her will remember the heartbreak we all felt with her sudden passing, it is so much more important that we focus on how she lived.
Yeah, she seemed to have that figured out better than most.