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Another Day in Paradise

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But there was a more appealing side to Sonia, too. She occasionally rattled off song lyrics, "Just another day in paradise" being a favorite. She carried on playfully sarcastic conversations with herself. She shot off an occasional flash of humor: "I called the parapsychology institute and he wants $60 an hour for Karma cleaning. So I guess I'll just have to run around with a dirty Karma." She also penned a rapturous two-paragraph description of the rising moon: "It's gorgeous because it's orange and huge and full on the horizon with a few small black clouds crossing it!!!"

But the words written four years before her death show the couple's deadly emotional spiral intensifying. Sonia noted that she was experiencing increasing breathlessness, an inability to fit into normal spaces, difficulty walking. She spent more, ate more and sank more and more deeply into torpor, helplessness and self-loathing. "Mike keeps saying I make him sick. I guess I do. I'm so fat, I hate myself, but Mike practically sits on me and forces food on me!!!...I make myself sick why shouldn't I make Mike sick."

One entry seems to exemplify the entire dynamic: "So he tells me I can't come to bed and calls me names and stuff. I try to talk to him, it doesn't do any good!! He hits me and tells me never to touch him again!!! So I leave and stay up all night. Then a 3 caret diamonique in a 14 K gold filigree setting [on TV] calls to me!!...I just keep eating Ding Dongs and cherries and Kit Kats. I'll eat anything. (I feel awful emptiness!!)"

Despite the endless meetings with professional caregivers, the couple was profoundly isolated. Sonia's loneliness escalated. "I'm sick of all these people having lives and I don't have anything," she wrote in August 1991. "No one cares about us!! They say they do, because that's what they're paid for...We have to stop trying to make them our family, or friends, because they're neither...They're paid to humor us!!"

A week later, she added: "It's sad to realize they all have lives and friends and we have nothing." And two days after that, wistfully: "I wish they were our friends."

Increasingly, and perhaps prophetically, Sonia became less and less able to sleep. After Michael had gone to bed, she routinely stayed up till dawn watching television--Nick at Nite, American Gladiators. When she did fall asleep, nightmares waylaid her.

"I'm afraid of something," she wrote. "I wish I knew what."

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Juliet Wittman is an investigative reporter and critic with a passion for theater, literature, social justice and food. She has reviewed theater for Westword for over a decade; for many years, she also reviewed memoirs for the Washington Post. She has won several journalism awards and published essays and short stories in literary magazines. Her novel, Stocker's Kitchen, can be obtained at select local bookstores and on Amazon.
Contact: Juliet Wittman