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 milkshake, 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.
Two nights later, she got up in the middle of the night and fell; she faded into a coma and stayed there from January through March.
Four times a week, Murray would write his column, get an interview at lunch and then spend the rest of the time at the hospital at Gerry's bedside. 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."