Last night I learned my dearest friend Yoma lost her husband, Warren yesterday. When I read the news, I burst into tears.
Of course, it’s a pretty ordinary event to be widowed at 78. What’s not ordinary is to be that age and have only been married for 2.5 years.
Yoma was once a chump. She was once married to a very successful academic who ran off with his office secretary back in the 1970s, leaving her with their two daughters. They packed the station wagon for him, as I recall the story. (The schmoopie lovefest resulted in a marriage that only lasted a year, before the OW left him.)
Yoma was my divorce warrior. She supported me like no other person could, because she’d lived it. She had a front row seat to my two divorces, sat with me in court through custody trials, poured that 3 a.m. bowl of raisin bran. She hated my cheating ex and saw through that creep when no one else did. And she single-handedly financed my liberation campaign to escape him.
I can’t tell you how much I love Yoma, and what a model of mightiness she’s been to me. The genesis of Chump Lady comes from her. I’ve witnessed her reinventing her life since 1992, when we first met as editors at CSIS in Washington, D.C. She’d been divorced for many years by that point, and her single life was one of adventure and cultural gluttony. (“Let’s get tickets to the Vermeer exhibit!” “I’m going to Sante Fe for the summer. You should come!” “Have you read this? You ought to.”)
Pretty soon I was joining in with her on those adventures. I’ve driven backwards on to ferry boats in Western Scotland with her, hiked up Acadia National Park, walked the beaches of Lake Huron, gotten up at ungodly hours so she could photograph things, carried her luggage, driven the car, and provisioned the woman with snacks and the proper tea. (She’s British and has firm opinions on tea.) You couldn’t ask for a better (if more exhausting) companion.
But not everyone could be Yoma’s companion. Lesser souls have tried. In the decades after her divorce, she dated some men. Some decent. Some losers. But she was content being Yoma. She loved her freedom, and had pretty jam-packed life.
So imagine my surprise when she moved to a retirement community a few years ago and told me she was hanging out with this widower Warren and it was “serious.”
Serious?! You’ve only been there two months!
“Well, yes, you can’t waste time at our age.”
They were married within the year.
Warren was quite the eligible bachelor, but he only had eyes for Yoma. When she moved in, he invited her to join the nature photography club, which apparently had exactly one member — Warren.
But they spoke each other’s love language — flower photography. One of Yoma’s many reinventions was to become a photographer, and a really fine one, with exhibitions and sales. She’d met her match with Warren, who probably had more gadgetry than she had. It was a bit of a competition.
I met Warren for the first time at their wedding, but I really got to know him later when we all went to Longwood Gardens together.
Yoma and I were strolling about doing our thing, Warren was dragging around tripods doing his thing. Then I remember sitting on a bench with Yoma, and Warren comes up excitedly and says “YOMA! The Siberian iris! THEY’RE BLOOMING! You MUST SEE THIS!”
So we get up, and turn a corner, and lo and behold, banks of glorious iris. Yoma is swooning. And Warren is swooning. And they’re talking complicated photography talk to one another and I thought: “Yeah, he’s the ONE.”
He is the perfect mate for her.
And he was — intelligent, kind, a birder, Quaker, geeky in the ways she was geeky. She wasted no time dragging him on adventures. (I warned him to pack snacks, and get the Right Sort of Tea.) The Pacific Northwest, Budapest, England, New York City.
And then this fall Warren got sick. And sicker. But I never thought it was so serious. If nothing else, Yoma has the strength of ten and would see him through.
But he passed away yesterday afternoon. And she told me: “I was so lucky to have that time with him.”
So that’s my message today here, folks. Don’t waste your time.
Cheaters rob us of so many things — our children, our wedding china, our retirement accounts. But the most precious thing they rob of us is time. Cake-eating comes at a terrible price. And frankly, so does the paralysis after losing a cheater. Good people exist. You might not partner up again until you’re in your 70s and that’s not a tragedy. Just don’t stay stuck. Get out there. LIVE.
OMG, the IRISES, they’re BLOOMING. Come SEE THIS!