Patton Oswalt Writes About Wife Michelle McNamara’s Death And His Struggles Being A Single Father

Comedian Patton Oswalt has written an emotionally-charged essay on his struggles being a single dad following the death of his wife, as published through GQ.

“I was looking forward to spending my life with the single most original mind I’d ever encountered. And now? Gone. All gone,” he writes. “It feels like a walk-on character is being asked to carry an epic film after the star has been wiped from the screen.”

McNamara died in her sleep on April 29 at age 46. The coroner’s office has yet to declare the cause of death, but Oswalt said in an interview with the New York Times that Michelle McNamara might have died of a Xanax overdose. Patton Oswalt had been married to Michelle for nine years before her tragic death.

Oswalt said in an interview with the Times that his job as a stand-up comedian has been therapeutic, though he admits that he’ll “never be at 100-percent again.” Still, he insisted that he’ll soldier on.

“I was half of an amazing parenting team, except we weren’t equals. Michelle was the point person, researcher, planner and expediter. I was the grunt, office assistant, instruction follower and urban Sherpa,” Oswalt wrote.

Patton Oswalt accepts Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special for 'Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping' onstage at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater. [Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]
Patton Oswalt accepts Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special for ‘Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping’ onstage at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater.
[Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]

In his essay, Patton wrote that he felt inadequate upon being confronted by the challenging task of raising his 7-year-old daughter, even going so far as to say that he wanted to hide under the covers.

“I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I want to tune out the world and hide under the covers and never leave my house again and send our daughter, Alice, off to live with her cousins in Chicago, because they won’t screw her up the way I know I will. Somebody help me! I can’t. I can’t. I can’t,” he wrote.

And then he wrote about how he felt the same sense of terror and hopelessness when he became a father and married McNamara, whom he described as “a woman far above my pay grade.” He recalled that while being a father and a husband is tough, he eventually “got the hang of it.” In so saying, Patton was convinced that maybe he’ll get the hang of being a single dad, after all.

“This is my first time being a single father. I’ve missed forms for school. I’ve forgotten to stock the fridge with food she likes. I’ve run out of socks for her. I’ve run out of socks for me. It sucked and it was a hassle every time, but the world kept turning,” he explains of how he’s starting to get used to the idea of not having his wife Michelle around. “If I can persuade a comedy club full of indifferent drunks to like me, I can have my daughter ready for soccer on a Saturday morning.”

Patton Oswalt said in his letter that he’s “moving forward,” his imperfections as a parent notwithstanding. He wrote that it’s how his wife had lived her life. And noting how his late wife has got so much of herself in their daughter, Alice, he vowed that he’ll keep “moving forward” so that he can always be there for Alice when she needs him.

“I’m moving forward — clumsily, stupidly, blindly — because of the kind of person Alice is. She’s got so much of Michelle in her. And Michelle was living her life moving forward. And she took me forward with her. Just like I know Alice will. So I’m going to keep moving forward. So I can be there with you if you need me, Alice. Because I’ll need you.”

“I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. Because of you, Alice,” Patton Oswalt concludes.

[Featured Image by Matt Sayles/AP Images]