Patton Oswalt Reflects On His Year As A Single Father In Heartbreaking Essay

The comedian's wife died unexpectedly at the age of 46 in April.

It’s been nearly eight months since Patton Oswalt became a single father. His wife, true-crime writer Michelle McNamara, died unexpectedly in her sleep at only 46 years old in April, leaving Oswalt to parent their young daughter Alice alone. 

Before the clock wound down on 2016, the comedian wrote an an essay in the December issue of GQ magazine to reflect on his “Year of Magical Parenting,” in hopes that his experience might resonate with someone reeling from the death of a loved one.  

“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,” he writes. “I was looking forward to spending my life with the single most original mind I’d ever encountered. And now? Gone. All gone.”

In the wake of this devastating loss, Oswalt admits his impulse was to “hide under the covers and never leave my house again.” At one point, he even considered sending his daughter to live with her cousins in Chicago to spare her from his self-proclaimed parenting deficiencies. 

Patton Oswalt and daughter Alice Oswalt attend the premiere of "Inside Out" in 2015. 
Patton Oswalt and daughter Alice Oswalt attend the premiere of "Inside Out" in 2015. 

Oswalt’s story has already struck a chord with his fans, as he’s incorporated his grief into stand-up sets and has spoken candidly about his late wife on “Conan.” In the essay, he encourages all those who’ve found themselves in a similar situation to never lose hope, because if he can do it, so can we all. 

“I don’t know what kind of single father you are, if you are one or ever will be one. If you’re widowed or divorced, adopter or elder sibling. If you’re feeling any fear or self-doubt, reassure yourself with the fact that I’m doing this. Me,” he continues. “Spend an hour with me sometime. I can’t drive stick. I can’t scramble an egg. I can’t ice-skate. But I’m doing this. Being a father. I’m in charge of another human being. So you can do this. I promise.”

However, the “Ratatouille” actor ultimately admits that he isn’t persevering through the pain for some hypothetical parent out there. He’s committed to being the best father he can be because of his daughter. 

“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,” he writes. “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.”

To read Oswalt’s full essay, head over to GQ



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