On Gene Wilder and Our Ownership of His Afterlife

Imagine for a second that your beloved partner previously had a beloved partner whom he lost to a vicious disease. Imagine that you have spent your entire relationship hearing about your beloved partner’s beloved late partner. Imagine your beloved partner dies, after more than two decades of complete commitment to you, and LITERALLY ALL ANYONE CAN TALK ABOUT is how nice it is for him to be reunited in the afterlife with his late beloved partner.

How would that make you feel? You’re already mourning your partner, and as the world mourns him, they erase you. They erase your place in his life.

Marriage after widowhood is different. It comes with all the strings and trappings of an incomplete life that came before. It’s complicated. (Hell, Jackie Onassis was buried next to JFK when she died.)

But as we publicly mourn Gene Wilder, let’s remember that he leaves behind a widow who surely misses him very much, and who he chose to spend the last 25 years with. Her name is Karen Boyer and she deserves, at least, for us to acknowledge it. Gene Wilder moved on after Gilda Radner died. Can’t we allow him that? Can’t we show some empathy for his wife today instead of reminding her who she isn’t, and what her relationship wasn’t? Can’t we at least do that?

I’d like to think Gene and Gilda would both want it that way.

I wanted to share an image of Gene and Karen but I didn’t want to steal my favorite from Getty. Click her name above and you can check it out yourselves.

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