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HOW LOSS CAN BRING A FAMILY TOGETHER
It has been a few months since our last newsletter. My father fell ill and passed away, and I have fallen behind. It is a difficult thing to deal with when a parent passes away. Not only do you have the extreme sense of loss, but it forces you to face your own mortality as well. However, you quickly realize the importance of family and friends in a time like this. As I write this, I am in an airplane traveling to Utah to be with family over the Thanksgiving holiday. My mother moved there a few months ago and my sister over a year ago. One of my brothers lives in Denver but likely won’t be able to come. However, my other brother, a Baltimore resident, is already there and will soon pick up my wife and me at the Salt Lake City Airport. My 76-year-old father had been suffering from vascular dementia for approximately 15 years. He had also endured cancer in his throat and lung for the last nine years. I was out of town when I received a call from my stepmother on a Wednesday. Given that she has never called me in my life, I feared the worst. (We get along fine, but when we have talked, it was always during a call to my father.) My fears were confirmed when she told me that my father had taken a bad turn physically. “It probably wouldn’t be long,” she said. As luck would have it, I had a first-degree murder trial scheduled for the next week and was actually working on the case while out of town. I called Neal Pinkston, the Hamilton County District Attorney. Despite frequently being an adversary, Neal is also a friend. He and Judge Tom Greenholtz immediately agreed to pass the case so that I could travel to Memphis to be with my family. My wife, Casey, and I got there on Friday and found my father comatose, struggling with labored breathing. My father passed away peacefully about three hours later while my stepmother, sister, and I were holding him. While sitting there talking and waiting, it made me think about the
importance of my family, and frankly, how I could be much better about staying in touch with them and finding more reasons to spend time together. My mother has not been feeling well the last couple of months and wanted us to come see her for Thanksgiving. I had steadfastly refused, giving a multitude of reasons and excuses, primarily that I didn’t want to travel over the holiday, pay for the airfare, etc. My father passing away really made me reconsider. As I stated above, I am on my way to Salt Lake City and will be there in about an hour. It’s incredible that it really only takes about seven hours to get across the country! I am looking forward to spending time with my mother and her husband as well as my younger brother and my younger sister and her family. “This holiday season, spend time with your family and loved ones … You never know how long you will have the opportunity to reconnect.” My father and I got along, but we had very few heartfelt conversations. We never really told each other how we felt. Don’t make that mistake. This holiday season, spend time with your family and loved ones. If there is someone you don’t get along with in your family, swallow your pride and make amends. You never know how long you will have the opportunity to reconnect.
As for me, I will hug my family members a little longer and a little tighter this year.
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