Dear Tom, We’ll call this past week The Week of Loss. Oh yeah, tomorrow is the 4th…

Not a fitting post for the Fourth of July but what the hey… I’m not feeling all that festive.

Mr. Robin vanished. Oh, I know well enough what happened to him. The neighbor’s cat happened to him, that’s what. Now his wife is left alone with four mouths to feed. Yes, nature (and cats) can be cruel, but still I am sad. Mr. Robin and his wife have been living in my yard for four years now. He was unique. Determined. Single-minded. I always recognized him with his silly macho Mohawk head-feathers. He was our alarm clock, welcoming the sun from the top of our highest redwood tree every single morning. The saddest part? The mournful chirps from his wife– two days of crying. I could hear every single chirp. She cried as she cared for the babies. Broke my heart.

Mr. Robin

Mr. Robin

Dear Mr. Robin, you are missed.

In one week, three people died– two of my childhood friends- one from previously undiagnosed cancer, one from a heart attack, and just yesterday my husband’s cousin died. All three died young, but due to lifestyle they’d aged well before their time. I mean, in one case when I heard the news I said, “Wait a sec… I thought he was already dead. I thought he died of a heroin overdose twenty years ago.” As you can see I hadn’t kept in touch, but my cousin had– She’d remained friends with both gentlemen. (This is what I get for avoiding Facebook. Never know who’s dead and who’s alive.)

My husband has a small family. There are only six cousins on his mother’s side of the family so to lose one of them is a huge deal. But it was not unexpected. The last time I saw his cousin was at a wedding eighteen months ago. To claim the man was in ill health would be an understatement.

He said to me, “I’m waiting for the big one. My life is shit. I am miserable. I’m in pain. I just want to die.”

My husband asked if his cousin seemed depressed. I said, “No, more like resigned, frustrated, unhappy. But no, not depressed.”

Well, he had the big one, a cardiac arrest in the field. Unfortunately he had no advance directive and when the paramedics arrived on the scene they resuscitated him. He was without oxygen for fifteen minutes before CPR. He never regained consciousness. Was on a ventilator. Again, unfortunately, the doctor treating him was very aggressive. Despite the fact that the man was DEAD he took him to surgery to unblock his coronary arteries, then he took him back into surgery to graft some vessels into his legs because there was no circulation (DEAD), and he wanted to begin dialysis because, obviously, if you’re DEAD, your kidneys aren’t functioning. Thank God he suffered another cardiac arrest twelve hours after the first and his son overruled the doctor and said, “Don’t do anything. Let him go.”

It was a difficult death because he was not a nice man and he’d been pretty much estranged from his son and from most of the rest of the family for years. But, you know better than I, death is the great equalizer. Happens to good and bad alike. We are very close with his son– my kids think of him as a big brother, so my husband and son are heading to the funeral tomorrow. They’ll mourn his cousin and celebrate the Fourth of July with family down in Orange County. I’ll stay home with the two dogs and keep an eye on Mrs. Robin.

Last week was a blur– we canceled a trip at the very last minute due to family insanity. My family. We were supposed to fly to Colorado for a family reunion but the hostess of said reunion had a major meltdown and I decided a cooling off period was required. Sometimes words/actions have consequences. The consequence in this case was a canceled trip. However, it was for the best as our youngest needed help making some life-altering decisions. She was supposed to fly to Colorado with us. Instead we spent five days dealing with some pretty emotional stuff.

Isn’t that always the way it is with kids? I can’t remember ever being drama-free. I know you know this, Tom. You too have three children. But I’m good with it. You know the poor young woman who was gunned down on the waterfront in San Francisco? Exactly one week ago my husband and our daughter were standing in that exact spot. They stopped there on the way to a San Francisco Giant’s game. This is why I say I’m good with it. I can accept drama.

Really bad things happen in this world, Tom. Oscar is pretty upset. It takes a lot to upset him, but the thought of a father losing his daughter like that? And knowing it could have been him? He’s not himself today. I’ll tell him you called me a ‘git’ and maybe that will cheer him up!


Anyway, since it is the Fourth of July, or will be tomorrow, and since you’re English and I’m American, I shall stick it to you and quote some of the Declaration of Independence:

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

Words to live by, Tom. Words to live by. Love you! Julia


18 thoughts on “Dear Tom, We’ll call this past week The Week of Loss. Oh yeah, tomorrow is the 4th…

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Thanks Jaye. Could be worse. And there are advantages to staying the hell off Facebook. Ignorance IS sometimes bliss.


  1. pennywatson

    This post made me cry! I miss Tom, too.

    Sending you hugs and kisses and a big bottle of virtual wine.

    Love you!



  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    SO much to process. This world has these glitches – and your whole life is altered forever. And you have no say in the matter and must accommodate because, well, what other choice have you?

    I feel for every one of your losses, and I wish I had known Tom. I only got to know him a tiny bit after I discovered his blog through yours.

    It’s good you have a friend up there to talk to.

    I know what it’s like to have a child unhappy. There is almost no worse feeling.

    Thinking of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Yep, ’tis true, Alicia. We want our children to be happy. That’s pretty much what all us parents want. But as I always say, there are no guarantees in life. Tom knew this. I’m glad I can talk to him too! He’s my bad-boy angel! Thanks sweetie!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. anny cook

    Blessings, my friend to you and yours. It seems when the bad comes, it’s a flood instead of a sprinkle. I am blessed and content for the moment, knowing my time of travail with inevitably come. For now, I mourn Mr. Robin. Life is just plain hard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      It is, Anny. Thanks. Fortunately I’m pretty fatalistic and I don’t get depressed. But I miss my robin…..


    1. juliabarrett Post author

      I am all right, Tom. Really. And thanks. It’s the hospice nurse in me. I compartmentalize. But Mr. Robin’s loss is getting to me. He didn’t deserve to get catted. Such a cool robin.


    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Oh heck, honey – this is nothing compared to what so many people go through! It’s been a weird two weeks though. I’m glad I have Tom too. I talk to God and Tom. Crazy, no? 😉


  4. Marylin Warner

    Is it the stars that align that way, do you think? As I read of your losses I remembered a year ago on June 28 when two friends died in a car accident on the same evening that in another part of the country a third friend (we were all in college together) died of a blood clot following surgery. It never makes sense, but it hurts with a vengeance.
    Be glad you postponed your trip to Colorado. A 17-year old died of the plague in Fort Collins a week ago, and a mule deer died of the plague on the westside just a few blocks from our house 2 days ago, so now the area is under watch for dead animals and anyone feeling flu-like symptoms. And after what you’ve already gone through, being with a crazy family and watching out for plague symptoms doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, Julia.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      I did read about the plague. Apparently it’s a bad strain! Not like the usual bad plague.
      My mother says death comes in threes. She’s always right. At least it seems so. I’m sorry for your losses. And for the families.
      To be honest I never expected to live to the age of 30. Anything older than that is gravy!


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