It’s been 10 years since the writer and monologist Spalding Gray went missing from his home in New York. Two months later, his body was found in the East River in an apparent suicide.
The day he disappeared, his wife, Kathleen Russo, was leaving for work when Gray told her, “OK, goodbye, honey.”
“And I go, ‘You never call me honey!’ ” Kathleen tells her daughter and Gray’s stepdaughter, Marissa Maier, on a visit to StoryCorps. “And he goes, ‘Well, maybe I’ll start!’ So I left for work that day being hopeful that there was a future for us, that he was really gonna try to get better.”
After Gray went missing, people who thought they had seen him would send the family photos. “Did you hold out any hope that one of these people would be him?” Marissa asks her mother.
“At first I did, but he would never be that cruel to, like, disappear into the world and let us think that he was dead and start a new life somewhere else,” Kathleen says.
“He taught me how to think, how to see the world,” Marissa says. “And I was reading one of Spalding’s books and he wrote, ‘I know Marissa will survive and thrive for her whole life.’ And that’s such a gift, to have a parent write down how they feel about you.”
“He opened up my world, too,” Kathleen says. “It was never boring with Spalding. … He was such a great part of our lives, I wish he was still here, but we were lucky that we had him for the short time that we did.”
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Yasmina Guerda with Katie Simon.