August, 2020 has been a cruel month bringing me more losses close together than I have experienced heretofore. So many losses against the backdrop of a nation filled with divisiveness, unrest, and incomprehension. Against the backdrop of a world struggling with a deadly pandemic.
My little job at the school for autistic children has been a bright spot in my life for just short of six years. The dedication of the teachers and the therapists has inspired me daily. The growth the kids show has filled me with delight. I've spent the past several months trying to convince myself that it would be safe to continue working at the school: "It's only about ten hours a week." But, Joe and I both fall into the categories of "elderly" and "having underlying conditions." But, the young teachers I so admire are social beings. But, the kids cannot comprehend what a pandemic means and are often literally "in your face." Too many Buts. We talked about whether the job could be virtual, only about ten hours a week. But those are ten busy hours, and someone is really needed at that desk. And so I am now retired, which I knew was coming, but had hoped was not for another few years. Joe retired on August 1 (by choice) and now together we are figuring out what this new phase of our lives together will be like.
Blackberry's illness began with a mobility problem. We didn't know whether it was arthritis, old age, or something more sinister. As the two weeks of his decline began, we had a couple of visits with the vet, who considered various diagnoses and remedies. But he continued to worsen; it turned out he had had a stroke and then, it seems, a second, even more impactful one. The last few days were like a nightmare as he tried to eat, as he struggled to change his position, as Joe carried him outside and held him steady so he could do what he needed to do. A week ago Sherry and her family came to see him; it was heartbreaking to watch Sam grapple with the inevitability of this loss. Blackberry's last trip to the vet was on Monday, bringing the terrible empty feeling to our home. For ten and a quarter years, he has never been far from our sides. Such a void, such sadness.
Around the time Blackberry became ill, we received word that a dear friend was losing ground. A cherished relationship that began not quite fifty years ago with Lloyd and Roberta has endured despite our living hundreds of miles apart for most of those years. After being diagnosed with a debilitating illness fifteen years earlier, five years ago Lloyd entered a care facility and I began writing him a weekly letter. It was the only thing I could think to do for him. The annual pilgrimage to Ohio to visit our friends has been something we have always looked forward to and we had hoped to be able to go this summer. Daily texts with Roberta punctuated those two surreal weeks and this morning we learned that Lloyd's struggle ended yesterday. We cannot even have the closure of a funeral.
We are bereft, we are sad, we are grieving. We will be okay, but not today.
It was on the way home from Ohio in June of 2010 that we made a stop
and picked up this little guy who would bring us so much joy.