Good grief

By TOM CASKA
Posted 11/26/19

Life goes on.  After a long absence, June was back on the 5:10 a.m. from Port Jervis to the city. We regulars asked where her husband Pat was. June’s face was twisted as she spoke the …

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Good grief

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Life goes on.  After a long absence, June was back on the 5:10 a.m. from Port Jervis to the city. We regulars asked where her husband Pat was. June’s face was twisted as she spoke the truth with a solemn stare. June explained that Pat had a massive heart attack and passed before the EMTs could do any good, although they tried valiantly. Pat was a great guy, a working man’s working man. Needless to say, we regulars were at a loss for words.

It’s common to feel at a loss for words when it comes to the passing of someone’s loved one. Phrases like “this will pass,” “he’s in a better place,” or “it’s in God’s hands” are what we may say in this uncomfortable dilemma that we will all encounter someday. This hardly helps the bereaved, even if we feel satisfied as we move on to a further seat on the train, as if June had a virus. June sat alone, closing her eyes to catch a nap before I sat next to her. I started the conversation with the current weather and then moved on to ask how she was doing. She put on a brave face saying she was taking it one day at a time. I then started telling my memories of Pat on the train and how June would fake sleeping when he talked with one annoying passenger or another. She then smiled for the first time that morning.

This past week I lost my best friend to a silly accident. I have known him since second grade in our Brooklyn school. I am heartbroken, as are many of our friends. He was gone to soon. What keeps us going is sharing the memories and times we had together, such are the stories of 50-plus years of life together. He always reminded me of how our lives were in parallel. He got a divorce, I got a divorce, he married a Lutheran, I married a Lutheran, he has a corgi, I have a corgi, he replaced his knee and I replaced my hip. He died and that’s as far as I go. Bob, I love ya,’ but there is only so far a friend can go. Save me a seat. As far as friends go, Bob was the best, he would drive two hours from his home in Jim Thorpe, PA to take me to doctor appointments when I was unable to walk. I will miss complaining about the NY Giants’ game the most.

Speaking with his wife, she told me she needs a bigger freezer to store all the meals she has been given by friends. What she really wants is someone to talk to, someone who will let her cry or scream when she needs to. Lynn is always putting on a brave face, a positive spin. All I can do is call on a daily basis to let her express herself and tell stories of a dear friend’s life. Being a good friend should never end at one’s death—it’s a pact you make as a child, the original “for better or for worse.”

My reflection on these events is this: We are only trudging through this world of ours for a short time. Leave good thoughts, great memories and put on your snow boots from time to time because the nonsense gets deep. Enjoy your family and friends and be sure to somehow piss off the people you hate before you go.

Quoting Winnie the Pooh: “If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”

Be thankful this Thanksgiving for all you have, don’t stress on what you don’t. Good grief, Charlie Brown, Snoopy loves you.

Rest in peace, Bob.

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