For those who didn’t read my previous post last August –
My ex-husband, James Thompson (author of Snow Angels) died in an accident in Helsinki, Finland where he had lived for the last 16 years. Initially, the details of his passing were sketchy. However, I’ve since learned more about the circumstances on that dark night when Jim departed this world.
Unfortunately, Jim had suffered with severe migraines for years, and the medication he was taking made him drowsy, and it can also cause dizziness. The night he died, he took a walk after dinner by a lake near his house, which he’d done many times before. From what I understand, he lost his balance on the pier bordering the lake, and he drown.
He also had a head injury, so he either struck his head on the pier as he fell or he might’ve hit a rock or something in the water. They’re not really sure. However, he had always been a strong swimmer, so he had to have been unconscious, or he’d still be with us today.
Annika, his widow was just here in the states a few weeks ago. They had a memorial for him in Kentucky. Our son and his fiance were able to attend, but, unfortunately, I just started a new job in March, so I wasn’t able to get time off work. I also didn’t want to make Annika, uncomfortable – especially since I’ve never met her.
They buried his ashes in the family cemetery on his father’s farm. As I mentioned in a previous post, he and his third wife, Many, lived on the farm in a mobile home for a couple of years before they moved to Helsinki in ’98. It’s really beautiful there with acres and acres of lovely green grass and lush foliage, a very fitting place for his remains. He spent a lot of time there as a kid when his Uncle lived on the property before his father built a house there in ’98 or ’99. Some day, when I’m driving down to West Virginia to see friends or something, I’ll take a detour to Kentucky to visit his grave. I’d like to see the headstone that my son and his father’s family chose to honor him.
It’s odd being the ex-wife in these situations. I sent sympathy cards to his father and stepmother and his mother and stepfather. I emailed Annika and several of Jim’s friends a few words of condolence, but it still doesn’t seem real to me because I haven’t experienced any of the usual ceremonies of closure since I wasn’t able to go to the memorial or anything.
The last time I saw him was in 1998 when I picked up our son from the farm a few days before Jim and Many (pronounced money) set out for Helsinki. And our last conversation a few years later was fraught with anger and animosity – and our last email in 2003 was just as ugly.
I was 20 years old when we got married, and it took me a couple of years to realize that we were very different people with opposing priorities. I knew that neither of us was going to change, so I left him, and he was devastated.
He moved to Boston the week after our divorce was final, but things didn’t end there. He used to call me all the time and tell me how lonely he was. By that I don’t mean, he was alone all the time. He was knockin’ boots with a different girl every night, which he felt the need to share (like I wanted to hear that, but we were still friends at the time). What he missed was the connection and camaraderie we shared, a connection that was brutally severed after we attempted to reconcile in ’89, but we shall not knock upon that dreadful door at present – or ever.
I had wanted to move to Boston for graduate school after finishing my B.A. in English so that our son could spend time with his father. However, I just couldn’t afford to do so. The cheapest daycare I could find was $800/month, and quite honestly, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable leaving my dog there. And it would’ve been impossible to squeeze $200/week into a budget based on the pittance I was offered as a TA (teaching assistant), which was around $9,000/year (plus free tuition).
I also didn’t know anyone in Bean Town that I could share an apartment with, and you can’t just move in with a stranger you met through an ad on a bulletin board at UMass (University of Massachusetts at Boston) when you have a child. Jim was very upset that I moved to New York instead because I had a friend there who was in need of a roommate, and that also happened to be where I found a job first.
Of course, when I ended up moving to Ohio in 1995…well, let’s just say – we won’t go there. His fury and frustration were understandable. And guilt was my constant companion, but I truly felt that Ohio was a better place for me and my children (i.e. my son, Max, was 5 when we settled in the Buckeye state).
Anywho…it is what it is.
Oddly, Jim used to joke around about his demise, quoting the infamous James Dean all the time:
“Live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse.” Sadly, that’s just what he did. A tad bit eerie when you think about it.
Adieu, Mr. Thompson, may you rest in peace.
Over and out from the island of chaos that never seems to close… :)