Stories: Who We Have Lost

Christmas Covid

Story aboutMichael Mantell

Merry Christmas to all of us who have had a loss due to Covid. For some of us it is our third holiday without our loved ones. I still can’t believe this has happened. And Covid still rages on and still takes lives.

I still haven’t been able to have a holiday with all my children and grandchildren because another one has Covid . All these triggers for the last three years. Please wear a mask.

A life without you

Story aboutDennis Wolfe

My husband loved nature--everything about it. We spent our 20's camping in east Texas. We moved to the coast in our 30's and spent most of the time on the beach or at wildlife refuges. He loved to fish above all else--he was as excited to see my daughter or myself reel in a monster fish as he was to reel one in himself.

That is one thing I will always miss about him the most ... his sheer joy of nature and the unknown on the end of a fishing rod. I have to force myself to go to the beach now, it is so painful.

With Gratitude For Mary and Others

Story aboutJohnny Fischer

After my brother died my daughter told me that she knew of a woman from a neighboring town who had lost her husband from Covid. We both lost our loved ones early in the Pandemic.

I was hesitant to call since I was still in shock and wondered about my decision. It turned out to be the beginning of a special and lifelong friendship. We both were in a very deep and dark hole and what we and our loved ones went through was horrific. I don’t know what I would have done without Mary and her support and compassion as well as the Covid Survivors For Change Community. Out of the darkness came the angels. I have such gratitude.

Bell Ringer

Story aboutRobert "Bobby' McCoskey

Bobby loved Christmas time. His favorite thing to do was ring the bell for The Salvation Army. Mom said he would pester her every August to sign up, though registration wasn't until November. He first started ringing the bell outside of K-Mart in Clarksville, IN. Our mom shopped for hours snagging Blue Light Special deals. Bobby often rang the bell with the elderly lady who was positioned there.

When he was older, he became an official bell ringer. He was popular in the Clarksville area, often bringing in the most donations and wearing silly hats. Every year since Bobby passed, I've set up a virtual kettle and donated a few dollars, because the world just isn't right without Bobby here ringing the bell.

“… Merry Christmas darling
We’re apart that’s true
But I can dream and in my dreams
I’m Christmasing with you …”

It’s coming up on my third Christmas without you. It doesn’t get any better with time. I miss the childlike joy that you always radiated at this time of year. You were overflowing with plans for decorating; baking sweets; gift buying; and for visiting the numerous Christmas displays around New York City. You would even insist on a trip to Macy’s just for a quick peek into Santa’s workshop.

That first Christmas after you passed, I didn’t think I wanted to do anything except, perhaps, hide under a snow bank waiting for all the hoopla to subside. I realized, however, how special the thirty-three Christmases we had shared had been. I couldn’t let those memories fade away.

“… The lights on my tree
I wish you could see
I wish it every day …”

I gingerly tip-toed into holiday mode. Gathering all the decorations from the storage closet, I set off on my journey of “Christmasification.” Putting the electric candelabras in the windows was the easy part. I was almost content to stop there, but I knew I had to carry on.

Next up was buying the Christmas tree-- it had to be real, you always said, because it gave the place a wonderful scent. Just like we used to do, I headed out to the tree dealer at the corner church who miraculously appeared from Canada every Thanksgiving Day. While I would have preferred a small tree, you insisted on one that was at least seven or eight feet tall. As you put it, “We have ten-foot ceilings. We can’t have a puny little tree.” Back then, I conceded, knowing that arguing was a lost cause. This time, I got my own way and bought a smaller tree.

I lugged the tree home, stood it up, and tied it to the nearby furniture because our cats were delighted with the idea of a new jungle gym for their entertainment pleasure. Then, the “real” fun began--it was time for me to string the lights on the tree. Most people would think it was straight forward, but you always chuckled knowing what was going transpire. It was time for what we jokingly called “Ed’s annual day of rage.” The sets of lights were knotted together; some lights not working, then working, then not working again. The cats had to get in on the action chasing the strings of lights as I tried to hang them on the tree. Gilbert and Sullivan described it perfectly in HMS Pinafore: “Oh Joy! Oh Rapture!”

The lights finally strung and an alcoholic beverage (or two) consumed, it was time to place the ornaments. I didn’t anticipate how brutal that would be without you. Most of our ornaments came from places we visited--from the wooden soldiers purchased in the Christmas Market in Munich to the hand painted tin pieces from Mexico. Then, there was the seashell angel we found at that shop in Nassau in the Bahamas. It was in a bin next to what we were convinced were a bunch of voodoo dolls. We always laughed when that one came out of the box. As I found each ornament, I held it gently, holding it up so you could see it wherever you are now, hoping you recalled the place we found it, trying not to dissolve into weeping. We always bought an ornament for each of the pets we loved and cared for – at least fifteen of them. When I took out the little cat with the halo honoring your beloved, Quito, you were always moved to tears. Now, I cried in your place.

I had one more ornament to hang, a new one I had had made special. It was an angel with a yellow heart inscribed “Jody, my angel in heaven.” The tree was complete although my heart had a hole in it.

“… I wish you Merry Christmas
Happy New Year too
I’ve just one wish
On this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you
I wish I were with you …”

Like a stranger jumping out of the shadows, Christmas Eve is upon me. I’m missing you humming your favorite Christmas carols. I’d be pleased to ignore the day, but I know you won’t let that happen. So, I’m going to carry on our personal traditions. I’ll order take-out food from the local Indian restaurant that was your favorite. After eating, I’ll open a bottle of wine, light a candle, and, in the glow of the Christmas tree, I’ll watch "It’s a Wonderful Life." I’ll laugh at how you used to mimic the characters especially Old Man Potter and Uncle Billy, switching from grumpy to looney in a flash. You made me laugh so much. We shared so much and didn’t need to say it out loud, but we really had a wonderful life.

Merry Christmas, Jody.

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