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Hello, readers,

and I noticed last week I have some new readers in Poland! That place has been on my bucket list! Thanks for stopping in to check out my website.

For those of you who’ve experienced a loss in your family, you know how painful it can be. My brother passed away unexpectedly on January 4. He was diagnosed with cancer, but had been scheduled for chemotherapy, which was to begin the same day he passed away.

I am SO glad I went to see him and his family the week before. We’re separated by several hundreds of miles, so I booked a flight and hotel and went. This was not to say “good-bye,” mind you: I had just been tested negative for COVID and, since I was not teaching high school because of the Christmas holidays, wanted to go see him before he began chemo, since I knew getting that reduces one’s immune system.

We talked. We laughed, especially about a fishing trip we’d gone on as kids, when I was swimming, he was fishing, and all of a sudden he shouted, “I’ve hooked into a BIG one!” I was waving my arms–he thought, with excitement, but it was in pain, for he’d hooked ME in the arm. My dad ended up cutting the hook out, a scar from which I have to this day.

So for 2-3 days we visited. I stayed at a nearby hotel, so as to give the family privacy. I had just flown home and was getting ready for the first day back at school when my brother-in-law called me. “Your brother is gone,” he said.

“I know,” I replied. “He’s gone to get his first chemo.”

There was a protracted pause. Then he said softly, “No. Your brother’s passed away.”

I’ve been in a bit of a state of shock since then. It’s hard to believe the amount of emotional and mental pain that I and the rest of my family feel, but we’re dealing with it on a day-by-day basis.

So, for you readers, here are some words to LIVE by:

  1. Love your people. 2. Treasure every moment with them, for you never know when the last time you see or speak to them IS the last time you’ll see them or speak to them. 3. Tell them how much they mean to you. 4. Avoid discussing things that you don’t agree with, such as politics, religion, or another relative. 5. Stay in frequent contact (see #2). 6. Avoid doing or saying things you may regret. 7. Avoid NOT doing things you might regret. Some relatives didn’t go see my brother, thinking they’d wait until later, after his chemo was over. It didn’t happen, and in addition to their grief, they’re dealing with a tsunami of regret. This is all I have for now. These words were difficult to write: I’ve felt the need to get them down, but it has taken me these past six weeks to come to terms with reality and get a grip on my emotions to be able to share with you. TJL