The Coffee Table


Kirk Ashworth—my best friend

On the day before Valentine’s Day, Kirk Ashworth, my darling husband of nearly 35 years, passed away unexpectedly.  I am in some ways awash at sea, but there is one steadfast buoy that keeps me afloat; I have no regrets.

Oh, we had some humdinger fights in our history, even to the point where I threw the kids in the back seat and my suitcase in the trunk and drove off in a huff.  But in recent years we’d decided it was a waste of energy to be angry with one another. Through mutual study we learned that people don’t have control over each other’s behavior—only our own. And if we are angry at somebody else because things aren’t going the way we expect, we are really only hurting ourselves. We can choose to be happy. 

Armed with this realization, we learned to be more polite to one another. We ceased bickering over who put the dirty spoon where the ants would find it or who should have ordered the case of New Orleans coffee we were almost out of.  We became tolerant of our differences and really began to revel in each other’s adoration. 

In the last two years, not a day went by when Kirk didn’t tell me I was beautiful, and as often as not, he called me the most beautiful woman he’d ever known.  (Or if he was going for the laugh, he’d tell me I was the most beautiful woman in the room—where we were alone together.)

This made our Covid-19 quarantine almost like a honeymoon. Both retired, and sharing the care of my elderly mother who lives with us, we just didn’t go anywhere. We were home, together, all day everyday. We had our time apart—he writing his column for the ES Independent or perusing YouTube for his favorite musicians; I, sewing, reading, or building furniture out of leftover lumber.

But we spent every morning in bed drinking coffee and chicory Cafe au Lait, and talking. Solving the world’s problems one day, just shootin’ the breeze the next. We often concluded that everybody should just be nice, and recognized that it is hard work.

In the evening we ate dinner together and every night appreciated that we were not the subject of that wonderful old song, “I can’t sleep when I can’t sleep with you.” 

Except that now, I can’t sleep. I’ve toyed with bringing the dog to bed just to have a warm body next to me, but our carefully chosen mattress that is barely a year old was the one piece of furniture that Kirk preferred the dog didn’t get attached to. I used to tease him that if he kicked the pail before me, Tootsie the wonder dog would get to have his place. Now I’m not sure. If ever I can, I’ll sleep on it and then decide.

I will never again experience the joint sessions in which Kirk and I solve the world’s problems—so based on our past conversations, I’m going to take a stab at it now: Everyone, just be nice!  

Appreciate people for the things you like about them, and let go of the rest.  If you are lucky enough to have a significant other, tell them, everyday, that you love them—not with a hurried “I love you” as one of you is dashing out the door, but with your arms and your eyes, and your whole heart. Every single day. 

It’s the only road I know to life without regrets.


  1. Was Kirk a teacher at Berryville for awhile? If so, my oldest son really enjoyed him as a sponsor and a human!
    Being in Stage 4 cancer myself right now-I can almost feel your pain.

  2. Beautiful tribute! I really enjoyed working with Kirk at BHS. I admired his relationships with his kids & his ability to get their best work from them.
    Kirk was fun to work with because he enjoyed a good laugh and got along well with everybody. I feel very fortunate to have known him.

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