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My Mother passed away on June 24th, 2020, at the age of 61. She left behind her two sons who were decades apart in age. My brother will be 41 this year, and I'm still 19 until September. I moved out of the house last November with my Partner and had 7 months to adjust to a life on my own, but I still wasn't ready when it came to dependency and needing her in my life. My Mom had a lot of health-related issues during my upbringing, with countless hospital trips. Her most recent being an amputation of her foot due to Diabetes, and was only home for a week after before she had a heart attack and seizures. They were able to revive her, but remained comatose until her body started to falter a week and a half later. I visited her the night before her heart attack, and she showed no signs of what was to come. We mostly talked and saw each other through the night, so after her passing I found my grief to be stronger then. She was able to be beside her two sons and my Partner when she passed, and I'm relieved to know she didn't die alone, as she did live alone. She didn't even have her cat living with her, as I was taking care of him while she recovered. Our relationship ended on a high note and I am so thankful for that. I wouldn't know what to do with myself if it were the other way around. Yet still - I find living on without her, taking care of her physically while she took care of me emotionally and mentally, nearly unbearable. I still have yet to figure out life. And during this COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment, and the riots on the news, life could take me anywhere at this point. I had a form of comfort in knowing while being this young, if life beat me down on my own I could always go back to my Mom's. Now if life beat me down I'll be in need of figuring it out on my own, while I believe that will make me stronger, it scares the heck out of me. Moving forward with the majority of my life without my Mom is going to be very uncharted territory for me. While in the back of my mind I knew one day maybe soon she would pass on, I just didn't expect it to be during all of the 2020 madness.
Herb died last night. I'm not sure what to even call him. He was my Jewish father, the man who taught me what it meant to be culturally Jewish. He was my adopted and surrogate father, the man who was always there for me and the rest of the family, even in the days when I had minimal contact with my family of origin. Herb was amazing and it seemed like he knew everything and how to do anything. He taught physics at Occidental College in L.A. for many years, and before that taught all of the math and science courses at Deep Springs College, in Big Pine, CA, a two year college where students attend college courses while also learning how to run a working ranch. Not only was he able to teach any college course in math or science, he could have taught world history or photography, or a host of other subjects. He had a great sense of humor, played the guitar and could sing or talk in Yiddish, Spanish, and several other languages. He could design or repair anything, and had creative and sometimes bizarre - but workable - solutions for anything and everything. You could call him or sit down with him and pose some question, and he would launch forth on a lecture of close to an hour with entirely information that he pulled out of his vast memory. He was a true mensch and loved his family and friends, of which he had many. He was a humanitarian and a feminist; there was nothing about him that was sexist, racist, agist, or prejudiced in any way. He was kind and generous, and the smartest person I have only known. He is a lost to the world, and most especially to those close to him. I have tons of pictures of him explaining something to his daughter, his niece, to me, or someone, gesturing with his hands and talking with intensity. That seems like ages ago and like yesterday. Herb had been declining for several years from dementia and the person that I knew 25 years ago has been mostly gone for a while. Ten years ago he would say he couldn't rememberer all of the details about some thing you had asked him about. Four years ago he stopped driving from Pasadena to Sedona because he was relying on his wife's memory for driving. Two years he could no longer read a clock, but could carry on a basic conversation and remembered the people who were close to him. A year ago he was moved to a memory care unit, but was still under the same roof as the independent living apartment his wife lived in. Six months ago he spent his life facing the door waiting for her visits twice a day. Two months ago his wife suffered a major and then a minor stroke. One month ago, their daughters coaxed his wife out of Pasadena to go live in Oakland with the younger daughter, because they were terrified that they were going to lose both parents. A week or two ago he tested positive for Coronavirus and was placed on Hospice care. And now Herb is gone. He had some FaceTime sessions with family during his last days as he was slipping in and out of consciousness. He has been slipping away from us for years, but there is a terrible finality to his actual death. The world is not the same place without Herb in it.