Friday, December 23, 2022

Everything Passes: Nothing is for Keeps

On December 23, 2010, I found myself outside, in the cold, holding a candle in front of a picture of my life.

Florida Today photo
Compassionate Friends 2010

The photo was of my unorthodox family. I'm on the left. In the middle is my daughter, Jennifer, holding her son - my grandson - Little Eddie. Behind her is Bruce, my life partner of nineteen years. We owned our home together, where we raised my daughter, Jenn, and now we were part of my grandson's life. We had future plans. We were playing for keeps.  

On Thanksgiving 2009, Bruce broke his collarbone picking up Little Eddie. We wouldn't know until January 2010 that it failed due to metastatic lung cancer. The cancer cells were eating his skeleton.  

He was diagnosed as terminal at 51, with no chance of long-term survival. He chose to die in our home, in hospice. We celebrated our 19th anniversary on Valentine's Day. On February 26, 2010, Bruce died in my arms while I stroked his head, whispering in his ear things would be OK and that I loved him.  

Within days of Bruce's death, it became apparent that Jenn, my daughter, was having severe drug problems. Things were really rough for her. On September 20, 2010, Jenn died of an Oxycontin overdose in an Orlando hotel. I didn't do anything for Christmas. 

Instead, I celebrated the end of 2010 on New Year's Eve. My parents, my sister, my son and his fiance, their son, and Jenn's son, Little Eddie, all celebrated New Year with me. We had a holiday tree, gift exchanges, and fireworks to ring in the New Year.  

Little did I know the previous January 2010, I would be celebrating the New Year without Jenn and Bruce. And on December 23, 2010, that cold night with the candle illuminating my life past, I couldn't know this year, on December 22, I would celebrate the Winter Solstice with Little Eddie and Big Eddie, his father.  

We had dinner with all the fixings, exchanged gifts, and played our new video games late into the night. It was the first full dinner I had cooked since Jenn died.  

Everything does pass. Nothing really is for keeps. And that is precisely the way we have to live.  

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