The Dash

 

By Louise Ure

                    

 

Bruce A. Goronsky, a much admired television commercial producer, died Monday, March 29, in San Francisco of cancer. He was 61.  A native of Seattle, where he worked his way through the University of Washington playing drums in a blues band, Bruce moved to San Francisco in the 1970’s to pursue his career in advertising and broadcast production. A Clio and Emmy award winner and founder of Fleet Street Pictures, Bruce also worked at Foote, Cone & Belding Advertising in San Francisco and Ogilvy & Mather/Los Angeles.

 

My husband, Bruce, died two weeks ago yesterday. I wonder if every Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. will be as difficult. I’ve only had two of them now, but the world goes slow and quiet, my breath catches and I try to reorder my mind, once again, to face a Monday alone.

God help me, when I think of him, I can still only picture him that last night in the hospital. The medical staff was exquisitely compassionate. They gave us a private room with a lot of space. I got to sleep next to him and hold him the last eighteen hours.

He was unconscious by then, but I’m convinced that he could still hear me, that he was still nominally aware of what was happening, and that he recognized the race was over. He was simply taking a cool down lap.

Friends and family swooped in but then hesitated – shuffling in their indecision – fearful of intruding. They should not have. Death was the intruder. Cancer was the unwelcome guest at the table.

I have focused on tasks since he died and there are many to be done.

Here’s what I have learned:

For the same reason that doctors do not operate on their relatives, writers should not have to write their spouses’ obituaries. Our skill is unnecessary here, the knife cutting too close to vital organs along the way.

 

 

 

With a laugh that would enter a room before he did, Bruce had a love of senior Golden Retrievers and Maker’s Mark, and took particular joy in vintage car racing with his Shelby Mustang. He often said his only goal was “to be half the man my dog thinks I am.”

 

The financial documents – from the deed to the house to the paperwork to get the credit cards and bank accounts solely in my name – come to me for signature with the line under my name already filled in as “Louise Ure/Survivor.” I do not want to sign a line titled that way. I want “Wife” or “Lover” or even—in recognition of our quarter of a century together—“Widow.” I have not “survived” this.

I picked up his ashes yesterday afternoon, buckled them into the passenger seat, and talked to him all the way home. I’m lucky that he was always a man of few words.

There are many who miss him as much as I do, and last Thursday they showed me that when they put together a celebration of his life. There were more than 150 people there, some from his racing world, many from film production and some of you writerly sorts who never met him but who came to wrap your arms around me. His brother and 88-year old father were there even though they were so infirm that they had to fly in with a nurse in attendance. I thank you all. The event ended with all of us trying to recreate Bruce’s laugh. Magical.

 

He is lovingly remembered by his father and brother, Ade and Paul Goronsky of Seattle, Washington, by his wife of 25 years, Louise Ure, by the children of his heart, Brian and Maya Washington of San Francisco, and by many friends and colleagues.

 

One of Bruce’s old advertising colleagues RSVP’d for the event but did not show up. I would have been surprised if he had; there are arrest warrants out for him in two countries and he was reported to have died in the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, but it looks like even that was a scam. In any case, he sent a note with a video called The Dash. It has stuck with me these last two weeks as a raft to cling to in these high seas.

 

“It’s not the date of birth or the date of death on the tombstone that matters; it’s how you live the dash in between.” That dash represents all he was, all he gave, and all the people he loved and who loved him. That’s what counts.

 

 

 

Bruce had a good dash.

 

Thank you, my Murderati family, for the flowers and plants, the emails and phone calls and charitable contributions, the arms around me at the memorial. You have my heart.

 

31 thoughts on “The Dash

  1. JD Rhoades

    He was a lucky man to have you as a companion, and to have such a storyteller to tell the tale of his life. I never met the man, and now I miss him too.

    All my love, Louise.

    Reply
  2. Jake Nantz

    You’re wrong about our skill being unnecessary. I can’t even imagine how painful it must have been to write that, but you can bring to life a man I have never met, nor even heard of until some while back, and made me wish I could have talked with him. That’s a gift, Louise. To take your pain and allow the rest of us to share it, and by doing so, maybe let you know a little of the peace we want you to feel as thanks, that’s something only a great writer could do here.

    God bless you, Louise. You have my deepest wish for peace now and, in the future when the time is right, happiness again.

    Reply
  3. Andi

    Aw hell Louise. I know it sounds UTTERLY stupid to say this, but i haven’t felt like I had the right to cry. It’s not that there is a finite number of tears in the world, but I keep trying to tell myself that Bruce was yours, and I didn’t know him well and why the hell do I have the right to cry. It’s your right. I know how stupid that sounds. YOU know how stupid that sounds, because i know you. And I get to tell you stupid things. That’s part of my job in the band so I’m telling you just how dumb I am. That’s my job too.

    I started crying when I first heard the news and I’m still at it. As Cornelia says, I hope on some level it helps that you know we ARE here and we DO care and we’re going to keep crying along with you.

    Sad Anoraks are a weepy bunch, aren’t we? But we’re all here on the tour bus and we love you.

    Andi

    Reply
  4. Alafair Burke

    Louise, Like Andi, I’m also crying, not because I knew your Bruce, but because I know the love you have for him. And I know that only because of your words.

    Reply
  5. Tammy Cravit

    What a beautiful tribute, Louise. But I have to agree with Jake – I believe that it is precisely because you obviously loved your husband so that you are the only one who could have properly written this eulogy. Thank you for sharing this precious gift with us.

    There’s a proverb in Judaism to the effect that happiness which is shared is doubled, and sorrow that is shared is halved. I hope that your Murderati family has been able to help double the happiness of your memories of your husband, and to halve the sorrow of his loss. Thank you for allowing us to be there for you.

    Reply
  6. Judy Wirzberger

    His love will always carry you through. All the days of the week must have a special memory for you. What day did you meet? What day did you marry? What day did he make you laugh so hard your sides hurt? What day did you look into his eyes and see the love burning there? What day did he make you so angry you could have kicked him? What day did you look at him and know your love was deep? What day did he burst with pride?
    Now the challenge of finding what your new normal is. What day will you discover that?
    My love. j

    Reply
  7. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    I was crying right up until I read that Bruce wished he was "half the man my dog thinks I am," and then I just laughed, and thought, damn, I wish I’d had the chance to know Bruce. And it pisses me off that you don’t get to hold onto him every day of your life. I wish there was a way I could soothe your pain.

    Reply
  8. toni mcgee causey

    What an amazing man he must have been to have created such a love with such a wonderful woman. I am sobbing at your words, Louise. I wish I could have known him. I can tell he was a true gift.

    Reply
  9. Erin R.

    Yes…I am one of the faceless strangers out there that reads this blog. Yes…reading your post brought me to tears. I am sure your husband felt your presence. Warm, healing wishes to you, Louise.

    Reply
  10. Janine

    Louise,
    A few years ago, someone sent me this poem ~ it still gives me comfort and I’d like to share it with you.

    They are not dead,
    Who leave us this great heritage of remembering joy.

    They still live in our hearts,
    In the happiness we knew, in the dreams we shared.

    They still breathe,
    In the lingering fragrance,windblown, from their favourite flowers.

    They still smile in the moonlight’s silver,
    And laugh in the sunlight’s sparking gold.

    They still speak in the echoes of the words we’ve heard them say again and again.

    They still move,
    In the rhythm of waving grasses, in the dance of the tossing branches.

    They are not dead;
    Their memory is warm in our hearts, comfort in our sorrow.

    They are not apart from us, but part of us,

    For love is eternal,
    And those we love shall be with us throughout all eternity.

    Reply
  11. Janine

    Louise,
    A few years ago, someone sent me this poem ~ it still gives me comfort and I’d like to share it with you.

    They are not dead,
    Who leave us this great heritage of remembering joy.

    They still live in our hearts,
    In the happiness we knew, in the dreams we shared.

    They still breathe,
    In the lingering fragrance,windblown, from their favourite flowers.

    They still smile in the moonlight’s silver,
    And laugh in the sunlight’s sparking gold.

    They still speak in the echoes of the words we’ve heard them say again and again.

    They still move,
    In the rhythm of waving grasses, in the dance of the tossing branches.

    They are not dead;
    Their memory is warm in our hearts, comfort in our sorrow.

    They are not apart from us, but part of us,

    For love is eternal,
    And those we love shall be with us throughout all eternity.

    Reply
  12. Nancy Laughlin

    Louise,

    Your tribute was stunning and beautiful, and yes, I cried throughout it. He was a lucky man to have you, as you were lucky to have him.
    I pray that peace sneaks up on you and the good memories return. Take all the time you need to heal. Don’t rush. We’ll be here when you are ready.

    Reply
  13. BCB

    Louise, I am overwhelmingly saddened by and feel great empathy for your continuing grief. At the same time, even while I sit here crying, a small part of me is fiercely glad that your Bruce had someone who mourns his passing and feels his absence so deeply. Some people seem to leave a larger void, inspire a greater legacy than others. We who have known them are fortunate. In a way, it seems fitting they not outlive all those who would remember them well.

    The words below have been a comfort to me in times of loss. I hope someday — perhaps not tonight or tomorrow or even next Monday, but someday — they will afford you a measure of peace as well.

    "In one sense there is no death. The life of a soul on earth lasts beyond his departure. You will always feel that life touching yours, that voice speaking to you, that spirit looking out of other eyes, talking to you in the familiar things he touched, worked with, loved as familiar friends. He lives on in your life and in the lives of all others that knew him."

    -Petri (or, some sources say, Patri)

    And, of course, there’s always Longfellow:

    Life is real! Life is earnest!
    And the grave is not its goal;
    Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
    Was not spoken of the soul.

    Hugs and much love.

    Reply
  14. JT Ellison

    Louise, I know how hard this is to share, but I’m so glad you did, for those of us who would have loved to be there and couldn’t. Know that you’re in our hearts. xoxo

    Reply
  15. Terri Thayer

    Monday mornings won’t be the same for any of us, Louise, after reading that lovely tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Reply
  16. Lesa Holstine

    Ah, Louise. It’s not that a writer shouldn’t have to write a spouse’s obituary. It’s that spouses are the only ones who know each other well enough to write one that keeps them alive forever in words. And, tasks will get you through for a while. Then, one day, you’ll realize there’s nothing else to do but go on.

    It’s Mondays, and one month, and two months, and his birthday. The anniversary of the first date. They’re all special, Louise, and, maybe all the more special now.

    Louise, I’ve been thinking about you all week, wondering if you were OK. And, I mean only OK, because you won’t be "great" for a long time.

    I’m hugging you from here, Louise. I know that all of these messages will help, and give you a little more strength to go on.

    You’re always in my thoughts.

    Reply

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