Comedian Patton Oswalt became a single father overnight in April when his wife, murder mystery author Michelle McNamara, died in her sleep at the age of 46.


Oswalt believes his wife died of a Xanax overdose, though the coroner has not yet released the cause of death. Upon her death, the comedian gained full parental custody and rights to their 7-year-old daughter Alice. “Five months and ten days ago, as I write this, I became a single father,” Oswalt begins. The beginning of his letter outlines the small part he played alongside McNamara in their lives. “Michelle was the point person, researcher, planner, and expediter. I was the grunt, office assistant, instruction follower, and urban sherpa… I was looking forward to spending my life with the single most original mind I’d ever encountered. And now? Gone. All gone.”

He describes is helplessness, not only in losing the love of his life, but also in the major responsibility of raising a daughter by himself. “I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I can’t do it,” he writes. “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 goes on to recall a similar fear he felt when Alice was born, as well as when he married his wife. “I got the hang of it,” each time, he says.


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His letter tells that no one is ever prepared for anything he or she does the first time. He vows to continue on his path – “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.”

He speaks to other new or single fathers, imploring them that if he can do it, so can they. And then he says it is all for his daughter, not for himself.

“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.”

Read the entire heartbreaking letter here.

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