In the fog of grief, I gave away my car.

Abe Kreworuka sits on a beach in Scarborough. He died three years ago. Submitted photo

The days following my husband’s death were a blur of telephone calls, bottles of wine and intermittent sobbing. Abe had died of a heart attack, falling to the kitchen floor with a crash as he took his last breath. That was three years ago today — June 29, 2017.

The phone calls have stopped, for the most part. The bottles of wine are fewer. But the grief clings to me like a thorn bush, piercing and tangled.

I’ve been told you don’t ever “get over” losing a beloved spouse. You might move on, fall in love again, be happy. But when memories flash, the thorns still poke and rip.

I often think of our last day together. We walked our dog, Lui, a Jack Russell terrier who would run in mad circles around the football field behind the Town Office building. This day, though, Lui stayed leashed and we moved slowly. Abe was in home hospice care, his heart functioning at 10%.

But he was upbeat.


“I feel stronger today,” he said. “I think I can walk a bit farther each day.”

He added that he wanted to live another seven to 10 years. He believed he could. He was that kind of person. He had faith in his strength, mind over matter.

As I prepared to leave for work, he stared at me.

“What?” I said. “Do I look OK?”

“You look wonderful,” he said.

His last words to me.


Abe was an artist, a teacher and a humanitarian. He touched many lives and lifted up struggling souls. He taught needy people how to use computers, how to grow community gardens, how to get jobs and be self-sufficient.

He was a lifelong learner interested in physics, history and politics. His artwork sought to humanize the so-called “freaks” who were displayed at carnivals. He wrote a book about string theory called “Fields of Time,” in which we all exist in multiple universes. He badgered his elected representatives to do the right thing.

Memories bring grief but also comfort. I know Abe’s legacy lives on in the people he helped lift from poverty and in those to whom he offered emotional support.

He spent hours on the phone talking down our friend Ray, a two-time cancer survivor who is HIV positive. Ray and Abe lived in the same dilapidated apartment building on Munjoy Hill in Portland in the mid-1970s. They became lifelong friends.

When Abe died, Ray was barely surviving, unable to work, fighting for disability insurance. He could not afford a car. I now had two.

I sometimes think it was a crazy, grief-muddled thing to do, giving away a car.

I did it for Abe.

Karen Kreworuka was widowed at the age of 60. She looks for silver linings every day. You can email her at

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