Among the least-hoped-for ways that a person's words can go viral, penning a brilliant obituary has to rank pretty high. But in 2014 Aaron Purmort's passing was marked with a clever, honest and even award-winning notice that listed his cause of death as "complications from a radioactive spider bite . . . and a years long battle with a nefarious criminal named Cancer."
During a recent episode of "Salon Talks," she described how she also came to add "notable widow" to her list of accomplishments: "The short story is that I fell in love with the best person in the world," she said. "And then they died."
After Purmort initially received a diagnosis of brain cancer, she started a blog with a twist.
But McInerny didn't want to write a blog about medical stuff. If she googled phrases like "brain tumor," she would find the "worst stuff." She said to herself, "I don't want that to be our lives. I don't want to be a cancer story. I don't want to be a sad story. I want to still be us."
Instead she "wrote mainly just about life and about our lives together. Aaron was not a sad story; he was not a cancer story. He was a real live person. And that's the story that I wrote. I wrote the story of actually being in love with him and being alive with him."
As his condition worsened, McInerny recalled, "when he entered hospice, I didn't want to leave anything up to chance."
So as his life neared its end, they collaborated as they had in past. "We laid in bed and I asked him if he wanted to like write [an obit] together, and we did," she said. "We were laughing so hard and crying so hard."
Catch more of the conversation on Salon about McInerny's unconventional approach to approaching cancer and death.