Patton Oswalt talks engagement to fiancee Meredith Salenger and dealing with grief
Patton Oswalt has found love once again.
The 48-year-old comedian, whose wife Michelle McNamara died in April 2016, is ready to begin a new chapter of his life with his fiancée, Meredith Salenger.
In a new interview with Playboy for the Sept./Oct. 2017 issue, Owalt shares how he and his 8-year-old daughter, Alice, have coped with grief in the past year and how his relationship with Salenger blossomed.
"My fiancée and I started talking February 28, through Facebook. We have friends in common and we were messaging, and it just turned into every night for three months-- February through May," Oswalt shares. "We would talk about everything, writing these short novels to each other every night. It wasn't like I met this person and there was some thunderbolt. During that time, we never even spoke, never met face-to-face. We had conversations about books and philosophies and what love means and what loyalty and death are. We talked all about Michelle and what I was going through and the stuff that Meredith has gone through. We didn't meet face-to-face until May 20."
When the two finally did meet, the Talking for Clapping star says, "It was as if I had known this person since we were teenagers and we both had unrequited crushes since we were 14 and now it was finally crashing together."
While the first year was difficult for Oswalt to take in, he credits his daughter for making him get up every day.
"This is going to sound selfish, but I'm forever glad that I have Alice. If I hadn't had a daughter and my wife died, we wouldn't be talking right now," he expresses. "I'm not saying I would be dead, but I would be a shut-in alcoholic. Everything would have shut down. I wouldn't have been about anything. But with Alice, it was and is 'You got to get up.' There are mornings when we're late to school because I'm sad, but I've still f**king got to get up. A night when I've had maybe one scotch with some friends, I'll say, 'That's it. I've got to take her to school tomorrow.'"
"If there were no reason to wake up, I would be morbidly obese. I'd be rewatching movies I've seen a million times, and I would have wallowed and sealed myself off in a falsely comforting bath of despair," he continues. "Depression is not terrifying. Depression is seductive and comforting. It sticks around so long because it creates this false sense of 'Oh, here's where I'm safe.' Grief is like depression's drill sergeant. It knows the tricks that depression doesn't know. Grief is like, 'Hey, depression, I taught you everything you know, but I didn't teach you everything I know. Here, watch what I can do.'"
Oswalt says he's happy to have met Salenger, sharing that she brings him "excitement and calm" and gives him something that is "so secure and calming."
"I don't have to question and worry about it," he added. "There are no mind games. I'm calm enough to let the excitement really grow, you know? One of the things I missed the most about Michelle is like the old Elvis Costello lyric: 'I miss talking in the dark.' Meredith and I talk in the dark, at night."
The couple recently had to defend their engagement from online critics, who complained that Oswalt was moving on too soon after his wife's death. The comedian expressed that his and McNamara's family were very supportive.
"When I told Michelle's sisters they were like, 'Oh my God, we were so worried. We thought you were going to be alone forever,'" he says. "If I had passed away, no f**king way would I want someone as dynamic and unique as Michelle to be pining for me. My family was terrific. My dad served in Vietnam for three years, so he's very pragmatic, like, 'Why would you make yourself miserable if you don't need to be?' He was really happy, and my mom was excited too... My brother was really happy, like, 'Oh my God. She's smart. She's sane. It's wonderful.'"