Thanks so much [to Ann Christoph for her] recent column about losing loved ones, “View from the Coop,” March 9. My husband and I recently lost his brother-in-law, who was like a very close sibling to us both, plus a Marine Corps buddy of Jim’s and good friend to us both since the late ‘60s. Both within a month. What [she] said about her two losses exactly fits exactly the two guys we lost – brilliant, fun, loving, good-hearted. When we lose people we have known so long, we lose the person who knows certain things about us, who has shared certain experiences with us – that we can’t really discuss with anyone else. It’s a certain kind of loneliness.
But as [she] wrote, these people we lost left us the models of integrity, the paths made for us to travel on a little longer. I have vowed that I will allow myself grieving time, while knowing that the loss is never forgotten, but that I will, as [she] suggests, move on with joy for having been lucky enough to share fabulous hours and crazy adventures with these people. I can sense how easy it would be, at my age, to start retreating from the world out there, to dwell on the sadness of these losses, the ones previous to these, and the ones which will be occurring with increasing frequency as we move farther down this road of still being alive. I have vowed to not be one of those people. But right now, it’s hard.
Some years ago when my mother died, I was sitting on the still-boarding plane to fly back to Florida. Fighting back tears, I watched the other passengers move toward their seats with smiling anticipation. They knew nothing of my huge loss. Then somehow I began to reflect that each of these people, like me, has or had two parents, and that probably most of them were aware when each of their parents died. And that each of these smiling individuals walking past me, not noticing my tears, either has shared or will share some version of my experience. I saw myself as just part of that human continuum of birth and death.
And I felt much better, as I did upon reading [her] column.
Anita Dobbs, Laguna Beach