Two nights later, she got up from bed and fell; she faded into a coma and stayed there from January through March.
Four times a week, Murray would write his column and then spend the rest of the time at the hospital with Gerry. Sitting down at the typewriter with sorrow staring back at him was de rigueur for Murray. Through Ricky, through blindness, through Gerry, the show went on.
"I have sat down and attempted humor with a broken heart," he says. "I've sat down and attempted humor with every possible facet of my life in utter chaos.... Carmen was announced. Carmen will be sung."
What was hard was trying to write over those infernal voices, trying to forget the doctor's voice on the phone. The first X-rays showed the cancer hadn't spread. But there had been a mix-up at the clinic, just like in the movies. What in fact had happened was just the opposite. "Sorry," the doctor said. "The cancer has metastasized."
The cancer has metastasized.
"The most terrible collection of syllables in the language," Murray says.
Gerry died on April 1.
That figures. You write punch lines your whole life and then the last joke is on you.
Writing a column is like riding a tiger. You don't want to stay on, but you don't want to get off either.
March 12, 1961
Not 10 minutes down the hill from Murray's house is the Hotel Bel-Air, where a famous low-calorie-beer company is holding a dinner for the stars of its next 60-second sports celluloid extravaganza. Murray is invited, so he arranges for a ride (he can't drive at night) and makes an appearance. What the hell, as Murray says, might be a column in it.