His father got him a job at the Times, and everything seemed fine. Many were the days Ricky would call his dad and laugh about the day's column.
"I don't know what happened," Murray says. "Dedication is hard on a marriage, hard on family life. Maybe it was the column. Maybe it was the Malibu beach scene. Maybe it was all of it."
In the early evening of June 6, 1982, Jim and Gerry came home to find a business card sticking out of the door. It was from the county coroner.
CALL RE: CASE NO. 82-7193.
Case No. 82-7193 was better known as Ricky, age 29, dead from an overdose.
"I think about it all the time," Murray says, fingering that card, wrinkled from the years it has been in his wallet. "I don't know if I should say this, but it was always easy for me, the column. It's not like I spent long, long hours on it. I had plenty of time to be with my family.... "But I don't know. You lose a son and you think, 'Was I a lousy father?' But then, when you're a semifamous father, that's another load to bear."
There was one load yet to go.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. I was supposed to die first.... I had my speech all ready. I was going to look into her brown eyes and tell her something I should have long ago. I was going to tell her: "It was a privilege just to have known you."
I never got to say it. But it was too true.
April 3, 1984
Toward the end, because of the treatments, Gerry wore a wig. One day, on the way to Palm Springs, they stopped at a coffee shop and, for some reason, she wanted a milk shake, the first she'd had since high school. They sat there and had a few laughs. And when they'd stopped laughing, Gerry tipped her wig cockeyed for a few more laughs.