How was your week? Good to hear. Sorry, did you say “How was my week?” Not so good thanks for asking.
Monday my youngest brother Keith, died alone in his condominium. Tuesday my wife’s only brother Steve, passed away in his house in Erin, with his 79 year-old father holding him as he took his last breath.
I have had some unpleasant weeks in my life. I vividly remember the week the Beatles broke up was the same week I got a C- on my leaf collection. Apparently I used way too many maple leafs and not enough elm and birch leafs to satisfy my teacher’s sense of diversity. Speaking of Maple Leafs, that Toronto hockey team’s playoff performance has contributed to many bad weeks in my life.
Eulogies and Celebrations of life will occur shortly, and that will be the private place to honour the memories of the two men who led extraordinary lives. My focus here will be on family and friends.
The support, the caring, the reaching out has been more loving and more beautiful than one can express in typed words. Brothers and sisters checking on me is both touching and annoying, as they too are grieving. Friends, friends of friends, neighbours, Facebook connections, LinkedIn connections, Proud Boys, okay maybe not that group, but so many others who have taken the time to text, email, call has provided so much comfort in such an uncomfortable moment. Our children have demonstrated gold medal performances in the consistency of caring they offer the grieving parents.
I have been hesitant and telling to many people about our situation, but just the reaching out to the few, pleasantly snowballed into the many checking in. Friends of our brothers, who we only remember from the distant past have been incredibly kind.
I do not write this to glorify the passing of a close family member. I have stopped typing too many times during its composition, because, though I am no computer expert, I figure tears flowing on your keyboard, cannot be a good thing. I only share this information as an awkward way of saying thank you.
During a time of prolonged grieving, your checking in temporarily interrupt raw feelings of “This pain is unbearable” to “Wasn’t that nice of them.” I have heard the phrase “If there’s anything I can do.” over a hundred times this week. I really must come up with a better answer to that question. “No but thanks for asking” is a little too predictable. I am contemplating “The house needs a good vacuum”, “Sure could you pay my Hydro bill.” or “ I have always dreamed of owning a beachfront property in Hawaii, can you help me with that?” Give me a little more time and I will create the perfect reply to your offer so please keep asking.
The current circumstance I am trying to manage, is complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Virtual hugs don’t quite emit the same touch, smell or feeling as the real thing. Clever people have figured out a way to indicate their concern. I have run out of vases to put flowers in, as so many kind people have kept local florists very busy this week. My refrigerator is full with lasagnas, shepherds pies, home made soup and cookies and pies. Last night when I returned home from grieving with my wife’s family, I barely beat the neighbourhood raccoons to the anonymous food and flowers waiting on the porch step.
Our family’s double tragedy has been surreal. As the family members do their best to hold up, our grief has been interrupted by hundreds of messages, Covid-19 compliant visits, and enough social media posts to diminish my ambivalent feelings of new technology.
So Thank You.
I have been touched by every touch.
Close and distant friends, and even people I forgot I knew, have taught a valuable lesson out of this situation. My week that might even sound like a rejected Hollywood movie idea, because of producers like to shake their heads with disbelief when scripts are simply too bizarre, even in the science fiction world.
Thank you all for teaching me such a valuable lesson in humanity.
When sadness occurs with those you are close to you will ask your dear friend, “What can I do?” Your mourning friend will answer “nothing” but I will offer a different reply.
Do something. Do anything to help them. Interrupt their grieving.
When tragedy strikes a person you know, you will ask yourself” What can I say?”
Just say something… anything. Interrupt their grieving. Your words will help.
At the beginning of this double nightmare my daughter said, “Dad you must be running out of grief!” It was a perfect description of my emotionally exhaustive state.
I know now, I have a little grief left for you, if you have to face any life shaking moment. Even if it happens today, because you have done that for me.
I will end here as my keyboard is getting a little damp.
Cue the blong. A song about loss…