A tribute to Mike Royko in the Chicago Tribune's Perspective section

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The Best of Mike Royko

    Thanks to all of you

    Editor's note: Mike Royko wrote this column to his readers more than two weeks after his first wife, Carol, died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage. The Chicago Sun-Times published the column on Oct. 5, 1979.

    It helps very much to have friends, including so many whom I've never met.

    Many of you have written to me, offering words of comfort, saying you want to help share the grief in the loss of my wife, Carol.

    I can't even try to tell you how moved I've been, and I wish I could take your hands and thank each of you personally.

    Others have called to ask when I'll be coming back to work. I don't know when. It's not the kind of job that should be done without full enthusiasm and energy. And I regret that I don't have much of either right now.

    So I'm going to take a little more time off. There are practical matters I have to take care of. I want to spend time with my sons. And I can use some hours just to think and remember.

    Some friends have told me that the less I look to the past the better. Maybe. But I just don't know how to close my mind's door on 25 years. That was our next anniversary, November.

    Actually, it was much longer than that. We met when she was 6 and I was 9. Same neighborhood street. Same grammar school. So if you ever have a 9-year-old son who says he is in love, don't laugh at him. It can happen.

    People who saw her picture in this paper have told me how beautiful she appeared to be. Yes, she was. As a young man I puffed up with pride when we went out somewhere and heads turned, as they always did.

    But later, when heads were still turning, I took more pride in her inner beauty. If there was a shy person at a gathering, that's whom she'd be talking to, and soon that person would be bubbling. If people felt clumsy, homely and not worth much, she made them feel good about themselves. If someone was old and felt alone, she made them feel loved and needed. None of it was put on. That was the way she was.

    I could go on, but it's too personal. And I'm afraid that it hurts. Simply put, she was the best person I ever knew. And while the phrase "his better half" is a cliche, with us it was a truth.

    Anyway, I'll be back. And soon, I hope, because I miss you, too, my friends.

    In the meantime, do her and me a favor. If there's someone you love but haven't said so in a while, say it now. Always, always, say it now.