Grief

Jay Cronley would hate this column.



The late Jay Cronley and Willy

Jay Cronley would hate this column.

He wrote thousands of newspaper columns, plus magazine articles, books and screenplays, but he wrote fewer than a handful of tender memorials. One column was about an Episcopal priest; one was about a newspaper sports editor.

None of them was about his own grief. They were tributes to the people he liked and admired and who were now, abruptly, gone from his life.

This column is not a tribute to him. It is about how my heart has been shattered by his sudden death. This column is about my consuming grief. I know no grief has been greater, and I know others have felt the same way in their own bereavement. Grief is universal.

Don’t we all feel that our personal loss is beyond the ken of anyone else? The poet W. H. Auden is exactly exact in his funeral poem that begins, “Stop the clocks, cut off the telephone ...”

 

“He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.”

 

In days immediately after Jay died, I sobbed uncontrollably and said, in and out of panic and anxiety attacks, “I don’t want a life that doesn’t have Jay in it.”

My sister was frightened for me. She thought I might harm myself. I meant it literally. I don’t want a life where the center isn’t Jay: big, courageous, outrageous, creative, adventurous, funny, daring, exciting, bombastic and authentic. I don’t want a timid mouse life. I want a life that blares in superlatives, where everything is the biggest, the worst, the funniest, the smartest, the greatest — and fills the whole blue sky.

That’s what Jay brought to my mouse world. He was the smartest, funniest, most exciting person I’ve ever met and the best writer and editor I have ever known. He came into my life like a comet of fire, and I caught some of the sparks. None of my jobs — University of Tulsa, Tulsa Ballet, writer, Iron Gate — would have been as successful without him beside me goading, criticizing, encouraging, watching, helping and participating. He wasn’t a partner who supported with a hug, fresh-baked cookies and kind words. Partners can be blunt and active. 

We were married, divorced, partners and best friends for almost 50 years. Playing, laughing, partying, working, writing, fighting. Suddenly, one day, the most important person in my life was packaged up, bagged and boxed, and gone.

The best advice I got when he died was from my widowed friends near and away. 

Anna Norberg said, “People will tell you it will get better in time. Don’t believe it. It doesn’t. It never gets better. You just learn to live with it.”

Martha Bonner said, “I don’t know which is worse. Losing someone suddenly or watching them fade away.”

Abigail Westlake said, “It’s like being torn in half. I would have mood swings. All of a sudden, like weather. I named them: Meltdowns (bad), Sadness attacks (just sad). They pass.”  

Other people advised against beating myself with should-haves, could-haves, ought-to-haves. Wrong. When your heart tears open, you think: “Why didn’t I understand? Why wasn’t I kinder? Why didn’t I try harder?”

I think those are the best questions. Those are the questions we need to ask ourselves every day as we peep out of our personal me-me-me selves.

What counts more than my relationship to other people and other living things? Some are gentle souls who turn the other cheek. Jay did it a different way. He was a big secret chest of quiet kindnesses to people, but he was also impatient and didn’t tolerate fools, slights or insults. I want to grab a piece of that. Let’s all hold one another to better behavior.

Don’t tell me jokes right now. Don’t try to cheer me up. Grief is a personal, precious country where I must live alone for a while.

Then I’ll remember Jay’s great line from his book “Good Vibes” and movie “Let It Ride”:  

“You might be walking around lucky and not even know it.”

Then I’ll stand up and walk around lucky.

 

Editor’s note: Jay Cronley died Feb. 26, 2017.

 

by
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

The champ

Undefeated pro boxer preps for her next big fight.

Down to a fine art

Watercolorist honed talent while working in TV news.

What Was It Like?

Anne O’Shea and Brian Quattrini spent several weeks in the Andes Mountains to shoot the documentary “Los Bomberos (The Little Firemen).”

Add your comment:

 

Get the best in arts, entertainment and more straight to your inbox.

Join our email list

Edit ModuleShow Tags

November 2017

Over the past twelve years, the Williams Route 66 Marathon has become a 26.2-mile party! You might find yourself asking "Is this a race or really just a huge...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Cox Business
100 Civic Center
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 918-408-1208
Contact Name: Ally Lightle
Website »

More information

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Open House Celebration   Joys to the World, Inc is NOW a 501(c)3! It is a mindfulness program for individuals with severe/profound multiple exceptional needs and their family....

Cost: FREE

Where:
Wyndham Hotel
10918 E. 41st St
Tulsa, OK  74146
View map »


Sponsor: JOYs to the World, Inc.
Telephone: 918-282-3191
Contact Name: Jenny Joy
Website »

More information

Open House Celebration   Joys to the World, Inc is NOW a 501(c)3! It is a mindfulness program for individuals with severe/profound multiple exceptional needs and their family....

Cost: FREE

Where:
Wyndham Hotel
10918 E. 41st St
Tulsa, OK  74146
View map »


Sponsor: JOYs to the World, Inc.
Telephone: 918-282-3191
Contact Name: Jenny Joy
Website »

More information

  The Harry Potter™ film series is one of those once-in-a-lifetime cultural phenomena that continues to delight millions of fans around the world. The concert will feature the Tulsa...

Cost: $45-$90

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E 2nd St
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Symphony
Telephone: 918-584-3645
Contact Name: Amy Roark
Website »

More information

join us friday november 3rd for our newest exhibit.   Norman artist JASON CYTACKI and his exquisite exhibit, 'Living is Easy with Eyes Closed'   we'll have live music with...

Cost: free

Where:
mainline art bar
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: mainline art bar
Telephone: 918-704-3330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

More information

Working in large-scale paper and graphite collages, Mark Lewis, Applied Associate Professor at the University of Tulsa, builds up layers of paper to create highly dimensional urban landscapes,...

Cost: Free Admission

Where:
108 Contemporary
108 E Mathew B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: 108 Contemporary
Telephone: 918-895-6302
Contact Name: 108 Contemporary Intern
Website »

More information

Big Fish is a story that shifts between two timelines.  In the present-day real world, sixty-year-old Edward Bloom faces his mortality while his son Will prepares to become a father himself....

Cost: $10

Where:
VanTrease PACE
10300 E. 81st Street
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

All children ages 13 and under, accompanied by an adult, will be allowed in to all 2017-18 ORU Athletics ticketed sports. ALL KIDS – IT’S FREE! is strictly a promotion. These tickets have no...

Cost: $12, $17, $22

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Sponsor: Mabee Center
Telephone: 918-495-6000
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

join us friday november 3rd for our newest exhibit.   Norman artist JASON CYTACKI and his exquisite exhibit, 'Living is Easy with Eyes Closed'   we'll have live music with...

Cost: free

Where:
mainline art bar
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: mainline art bar
Telephone: 918-704-3330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

More information

Come give those calories one last dance!  We dance in the park behind Jenks Nutrition.  But don't worry, we'll move inside if the weather gets bad.  For $5, you get a fun...

Cost: $5.00

Where:
Jenks Nutrition
124 N 3rd St
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »

More information

Cost: $8

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us on Tuesday, November 21, at 5:30 p.m. in our dining room as the Culinary team from Cancer Treatment Centers of America warms you up with your favorite winter dishes! For more information or...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cancer Treatment Center of America
10109 E. 79th Street
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »

More information

join us friday november 3rd for our newest exhibit.   Norman artist JASON CYTACKI and his exquisite exhibit, 'Living is Easy with Eyes Closed'   we'll have live music with...

Cost: free

Where:
mainline art bar
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: mainline art bar
Telephone: 918-704-3330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Come see how Tulsa offers a 'home away from home' for families caring for loved ones in medical crisis at Hospitality House of Tulsa. This free 30 minute tour is free. RSVP at...

Cost: free

Where:
Hospitality House of Tulsa
1135 S. Victor AVE
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Sponsor: Hospitality House of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-794-0088 x205
Contact Name: Rhonda McDaniel
Website »

More information

join us friday november 3rd for our newest exhibit.   Norman artist JASON CYTACKI and his exquisite exhibit, 'Living is Easy with Eyes Closed'   we'll have live music with...

Cost: free

Where:
mainline art bar
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: mainline art bar
Telephone: 918-704-3330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

More information

Come give those calories one last dance!  We dance in the park behind Jenks Nutrition.  But don't worry, we'll move inside if the weather gets bad.  For $5, you get a fun...

Cost: $5.00

Where:
Jenks Nutrition
124 N 3rd St
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

join us friday november 3rd for our newest exhibit.   Norman artist JASON CYTACKI and his exquisite exhibit, 'Living is Easy with Eyes Closed'   we'll have live music with...

Cost: free

Where:
mainline art bar
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: mainline art bar
Telephone: 918-704-3330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Get out with the family for a walk. Pick up a Signs of Fall Scavenger Hunt sheet and see how many things you can find on the Garden’s nature trail. Tulsa Botanic Garden is open Tuesday...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 for ages 13+; $4 for ages 3–12; 2 & under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

join us friday november 3rd for our newest exhibit.   Norman artist JASON CYTACKI and his exquisite exhibit, 'Living is Easy with Eyes Closed'   we'll have live music with...

Cost: free

Where:
mainline art bar
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: mainline art bar
Telephone: 918-704-3330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

More information

Celebrate this Christmas with the experience taking North America by storm! Marking the 25th Anniversary Tour, Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker features over-the-top production...

Cost: $28 - $175

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Kick off your holiday shopping with us and support Small Business Saturday! Browse an eclectic mix of antiques, collectibles, vintage items, memorabilia, records, books, crafts and more. Find...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Exchange Center at Expo Square
4145 E. 21st Street
Tulsa, OK  74112
View map »


Telephone: 918-744-1386
Contact Name: Melissa
Website »

More information

Come give those calories one last dance!  We dance in the park behind Jenks Nutrition.  But don't worry, we'll move inside if the weather gets bad.  For $5, you get a fun...

Cost: $5.00

Where:
Jenks Nutrition
124 N 3rd St
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »

More information

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Get out with the family for a walk. Pick up a Signs of Fall Scavenger Hunt sheet and see how many things you can find on the Garden’s nature trail. Tulsa Botanic Garden is open Tuesday...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 for ages 13+; $4 for ages 3–12; 2 & under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Come by for our open house! We’ll have lots of fun for everyone: Face painting by Karen Refreshments Stained Glass Demonstrations Open workshop space for past students and it’s all FREE!...

Cost: Free

Where:
Tulsa Stained Glass
4131 S. Sheridan Rd.
Tulsa, OK  74145
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Stained Glass
Telephone: 918-664-8604
Contact Name: Richard Bohm
Website »

More information

All children ages 13 and under, accompanied by an adult, will be allowed in to all 2017-18 ORU Athletics ticketed sports. ALL KIDS – IT’S FREE! is strictly a promotion. These tickets have no...

Cost: $12, $17, $22

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Sponsor: Mabee Center
Telephone: 918-495-6000
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

join us friday november 3rd for our newest exhibit.   Norman artist JASON CYTACKI and his exquisite exhibit, 'Living is Easy with Eyes Closed'   we'll have live music with...

Cost: free

Where:
mainline art bar
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: mainline art bar
Telephone: 918-704-3330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

More information

The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
View map »


Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
Website »

More information

This wine, canvas and painting class in Tulsa, OK features step-by-step instruction to help you create a fun acrylic painting on a 16x20 stretched canvas. Purchase wine, beer, and mixed drinks...

Cost: $30 per person (normally $40)

Where:
Tulsa Time Paint & Sip Studio
3807 S Peoria Ave Suite-C
Tulsa , OK  74105
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Time Paint & Sip Studio
Telephone: 918-927-0729
Contact Name: Martin Pecina
Website »

More information

Making plans for this weekend? You can't do better than The Drunkard & The Olio at the historic Spotlight Theater. You know you've always wanted to go, and now's your chance. And if...

Cost: Adults $20, kids $12, seniors & military $17

Where:
Spotlight Theater
1381 Riverside Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »

More information

Cost: $15-$50

Where:
H.A. Chapman Stadium
3110 E 8th St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $15-$44

Where:
Reynolds Center
3208 E 8th St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $8

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

TULtalk


QUIZ: Which Thanksgiving side dish are you?

Where's your place on the Thanksgiving buffet? Find out if you're a sweet potato or a sour cranberry...

Comments

QUIZ: What kind of wedding cake are you?

Which of these locally made wedding cakes speaks to your soul?

Comments

Cyntergy Hurtland brings tailgating fun to town

November 12, compete in fun Parkathlon activities while cheering on Cyntergy Hurtland cyclists.

Comments

6 reasons to live downtown

In preparation for Dwell in the IDL, I chatted with a few downtown residents to see what makes the burgeoning area so livable.

Comments

Money mind

Financial considerations to help reduce stress, anxiety

Comments