Nora McInerny and Aaron Purmort lived a very public love story. That ended in an expected tragedy earlier this month. Today, Purmort’s obituary is published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and we’re finally let in on a little secret: The “mild-mannered art director” who was “always the most fun person at any party,” was actually Spider-Man. And he died from “complications from a radioactive spider bite.”
At first glance, it may seem to be an odd way to bid farewell to someone who died from cancer, but it’s a perfect summation of how the couple tried to keep a sense of humor, even as they were quickly engulfed by a tumor that they knew would be lethal—a Grade 4 glioblastoma.
Purmort's secret is revealed at the very beginning of his obituary:
Purmort, Aaron Joseph age 35, died peacefully at home on November 25 after complications from a radioactive spider bite that led to years of crime-fighting and a years long battle with a nefarious criminal named Cancer, who has plagued our society for far too long. Civilians will recognize him best as Spider-Man, and thank him for his many years of service protecting our city. His family knew him only as a kind and mild-mannered Art Director, a designer of websites and t-shirts, and concert posters who always had the right cardigan and the right thing to say (even if it was wildly inappropriate). Aaron was known for his long, entertaining stories, which he loved to repeat often.
And it ends by noting that Purmort is “survived by his … first wife Gwen Stefani.” Nora Purmort made reference to that line on Twitter today:
Nora has been sharing intimate details about her husband’s fight with cancer in an aptly titled blog: myhusbandstumor.com. “It's not a cancer story, it's a love story. With some cancer,” reads the blog’s taglne. The tumor had been a constant in the relationship since shortly after they first met in 2010, after being friends on Facebook and following each other on Twitter. Less than a year later, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and the two quickly got married. A local news station even did a story about them. At the time, it seemed the cancer may be beat, and the story ends in an uplifting note. But then the cancer came back, and the silver lining faded away.
In the blog, Nora made it clear time and again that she and her husband knew the tumor would be lethal—“I want to be clear as a bell with everyone: he is dying,” Nora wrote earlier this month—but they were constantly determined to make the most of the time they had together. “It wasn’t a war or a fight,” Nora wrote in the blog post announcing his death. “Those things have rules. This was more like Aaron getting in the ring with the Mohammed Ali of cancers, and smiling for round after round after he got his teeth knocked out and his face rearranged.”
Before Aaron's death, a friend launched a crowdfunding campaign to help out with hospice care and raise money for the couple's son, Ralph.