Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
In Memoriam

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Bill Sonnenschein

March 15, 1949 - December 29, 2008

All of us at Literary Mama are deeply saddened to learn of the death of columnist Ericka Lutz's husband Bill Sonnenschein. On Monday, December 29, after only a few hours of intense gastric illness, Bill passed away in the small village of Maraontsetra on the east coast of Madagascar. Both Ericka and Annie were with him. The day before, Bill was hiking in the rain forest, spotting lemurs, and sea kayaking at sunset. He was living his life to the fullest.

Ericka's most recent column, Holding, describes so beautifully how she had been coping with the "situational separation" of having Bill work thousands of miles away:

"Yet Bill hasn't really left. Our love is strong, our commitment unbroken. We talk on Skype almost every day, and in between, we email and Twitter. We're still together, we love each other, and this is temporary. He hasn't really left, he's just not here right now."

When someone dies, you search for the right words to comfort. You tell her you're sorry, then offer any help you can. But you can also offer up her own wisdom: He hasn't really left, he's just not here right now.

Expressions of condolence can be posted here in the Comments section.


Ericka Lutz is an author, solo performer, and teacher. Her seven non-fiction books include On the Go with Baby and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Stepparenting, and her fiction/creative nonfiction has appeared in numerous books, anthologies, and journals. Ericka teaches writing at U.C. Berkeley. She also provides private coaching on writing and writing process to writers and organizations. Her full-length solo show, “A Widow’s To-Do List,” is currently in development in San Francisco. For information on upcoming performances, visit Ericka’s website.


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Hi, I'm so very sorry for your loss Ericka. I too am a widow, also a very sudden loss, so I understand how deep and profound this loss is. These days and weeks ahead will be the hardest but you will get through them. Just take each day an hour at a time and if that's too hard, 5 minutes at a time. RIP Bill.
Ericka, I am so sorry to hear about this. It seems as though we were just talking about Bill at the Mama Phd party and I was shocked to hear that he had died. I can only imagine how much this must suck, and how hard it must be to adjust to such a different life path. Hugs to you and Annie.
Ericka, Like so many spread so far, I hold you and yours in my heart. I feel like a neighbor through your writing and writer mamas. I remind you of your own words: Bill still hasn't really left. Keep on holding. You can do this. xo Robin
I'm so sorry to hear this - what a terrible shock. Thinking of you and of your family.
Ericka, I've read some of your columns, your name is familiar to me. I am so so deeply sorry for the sudden death of your husband. I just read your column Holding and it's so profound. I am just sad for you, as a wife, a mother. I'm very sorry.
Oh my god, so utterly tragic. There seem to be so few words that can convey all the support that I would like to offer. I'm so sorry, Ericka. Please feel loved and supported through all of this.
Erika - My thoughts and prayers are with you. I'm glad that you and your family were together during your husband's sudden transition. Have courage. Kate Robinson Chino Valley, AZ
I am holding you and your family in the light, as the Quakers say.
I am very sorry Ericka. My daughter Bonnie went to school with Annie at Archway. My sincere condolences. Carol Trese Rutherford
Ericka- A quiet mega hug from the ' Eternal City'.
Holding you in light too. Always, every day.
Ericka, I'm so sorry. I've been thinking about you every day since I heard. I love you. Jennifer
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