As I look back on 2021, this story–Gone, But Not Forgotten, which I wrote in April–may be the most meaningful and emblematic piece I wrote in this odd and odd-numbered year. It was also the most viewed story on my website over the past twelve months.
I suspect that’s because we have all become so familiar with loss in this age of Covid. It pervades our lives. It has become that unwelcome house guest that threatens to stay or return without explanation.
But there is also greater intimacy that can come with loss. Since Gary passed away in April, Tom and I have become closer with Pat, our neighbor and his widow. The hugs between us are tighter, the smiles broader when we greet each other outside our doors.
There are lessons to be learned from grief. It can make us stronger. Read on.
Gary was a fixture in our community. Nearly every day, through our kitchen window, Tom and I spotted him beyond our fig tree. He sat contentedly on the park bench in front of his condo, wearing his favorite cowboy hat, smoking a cigarette. Our neighbor–an eighty-six-year-old-man with a wry sense of humor and perpetual cough–died last week.
Over the past few years, Tom and I watched Gary’s slow slide and the constant care Pat (his devoted wife of fifty-three years) provided. In recent weeks, Gary’s decline had become more precipitous. We knew it was only a matter of time–days, hours, minutes, seconds–before he left. Ironically, it happened on Good Friday right outside his front door and ours. He died under our fig tree.
On Friday afternoon, after receiving our second Pfizer vaccinations the day before, Tom was napping in the sunroom. I was feeling fine, writing in our den. Around…
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