September 4, 2015

M is for Murder


Photography by Mary Allison Tierney

I tried to kill my late wife.

This was in 1996, fourteen years before she would breathe for the final time, minutes after midnight on August 30, 2010, after a five-year struggle with breast cancer.

I attempted murder the day after my brother married along Boston’s harbor, in front of nearly 300 people, including John Denver, who was managed by my brother’s in-laws and sang at the ceremony, most of whom snaked through the hotel for the conga and the hora.

Many of us gathered the next day for a fancy brunch with mimosas and glasses clinking and a sumptuous spread of sliced fruits and vegetables and platters of smoked salmon, bagels, cream cheese, and tuna fish. There were two chairs in front of me as Verna stood facing the opposite direction. I grabbed the chair on the right unaware that Verna was already lowering herself into it.

She fell hard to the ground, wrenching her neck. We spent several hours at a local urgent care center, where she received painkillers for the flight home later that day. Later that week she started chiropractic treatments and, at the chiropractor’s recommendation, gave up caffeine because it tends to tense the muscles. Within weeks she was healed, and in time started drinking coffee again.

But we always joked—at least I hope she joked—about the time I tried to kill her.

Steven Friedman has two essays in our book, Mamas WriteNot Afraid of Words and Shine, Shine, Shine.


  1. Sue LeBreton says:

    Great intro. I laughed, as how many times do we all do something with one intent and it has the opposite outcome? I look forward to reading your essays in the anthology.

  2. Teri Stevens says:

    Ouch, my body tensed just reading that. Glad she didn’t have to give up her caffeine. I love your anthology essays, very poiniant and moving. I look forward to reading more of your writing.

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