Ch.241 More Losses Coming

Ch.241 More Losses Coming

March 2024

          My grieving for Pat has shown me I can survive a great heartache. After facing Pat’s demise and death, I figured I could handle just about any future losses. But now I’m not so sure. I’m realizing that instead of my grief inoculating me against future suffering, it has done just the opposite, making me more sensitive to loss. My gratitude for what exists is tempered by my awareness of its ephemeral quality. What is here will soon be gone, “in a moment” as Joan Didion writes in A Year of Magical Thinking.

I’m also aware that it is impossible completely to prepare for future losses. That’s because each significant loss is both universal and unique. The universal aspect comes from deep inside us, the desperate, overwhelming feeling people get when their attachment bonds are severed. But at the same time each loss comes with its own history, its own particularities, its own intimacies. Each loss is special, so my grieving Pat only hints at what I might feel over future losses.

          Right now, I’m looking toward two future losses. The first is that my wonderful neighbors, Bobbie Jo and Mark, are planning to retire and move away in several months. They intend to go nomad for a while, they tell me, driving around the continent as they desire. I’m happy for them because they get to live the future of their choice, something few people, much less couples, achieve.

          Bobbie Jo and Mark are special neighbors. These two have watched my animals when I’ve travelled, grieved with me the deaths of their pets and mine, helped me figure out what to do with the mountain of stuff Pat left behind, and, most importantly, they have been with me before, during, and after Pat’s dementia journey. They feel like family. They are family.

          My second future loss is that of my 92-year-old brother Art. He’s in the hospital as I write, fighting Covid and pneumonia. Art lives in Buffalo, NY, so I can’t easily visit, but his daughter Sonia is keeping me informed. Art’s a complex individual, a retired literature professor who speaks knowingly about both academic and practical topics. He stays quiet during most of our monthly Four Brothers (and wives) zoom sessions, until asked for his thoughts. Then he usually places whatever topic we are discussing in a historical context, adding depth to our conversations.

          My mother died in her 40’s and my father at 60. Art’s mother died even earlier; I think in her 30’s. It’s remarkable that we four brothers have lived long lives: 79, 79, 85 and 92. I’m grateful for that, but I still feel unprepared for Art’s death, whenever it arrives.

          I don’t know how I will react to my neighbor’s departure or to Art’s eventual passing. I won’t know until they happen. I am aware that right now, as I write, I feel shaken, adrift, prematurely empty. It’s as if I am arguing with the universe, telling it that I’ve already lost Pat and that should be enough.