My mother began dating a new guy a few months ago, right as the COVID-19 pandemic began to ravage the country. She and I talk almost every day, and I began to hear a lot about this guy. How he had this thick Boston accent, talked A LOT, and was already referring to my sister and me as his future stepdaughters. Today, he died.
When they first started dating, I would let my mom talk a little about him and then I’d quickly change the subject to whatever topic I wanted to discuss—what was going on in my life, details about her grand-kids, the current state of the pandemic. But over time, I began to realize just how important this man was to her.
She would tell me that he would drive over to her place to pick her up and take her to doctor appointments so she would not have to drive in the rain. She said he told her he wanted to marry her and spend the rest of his life with her. They would talk about all the things they would do once the pandemic passed. She even said she had shown him so many pictures of me that he would point to a stranger and say, “She looks just like Amy.”
Over time we began to learn more about pandemic safety precautions, such as wearing face masks and social distancing. So, a few weeks ago, I told her they should come over, and we would socially distance in the backyard so I could meet the man lucky enough to capture my sweet mother’s heart. We never set a date, but we agreed that we would make it happen soon. As I remembered this today, it sliced my heart into two jagged pieces, because it never happened.
Like most moms, my life is super busy, so my daily phone calls with my mother are typically from the car. Ironically, this is about the only time I talk to my own two busy grown daughters. But today, when I called my mother from my car’s Bluetooth, and she answered with a monotone, “Hello,” I intuitively knew something was wrong. What came next was a story that is difficult to retell but needs to be told.
Like the gentleman he was, today my mom’s boyfriend again drove her to a doctor’s appointment, so she did not have to drive in the rain. After, they went to his place with plans for him to quickly mow the lawn of his meticulous home, shower, and take my mother to lunch. Sadly, an unexpected and fatal cardiac arrest meant they never made it to lunch.
His was not a COVID-19 death, but still a COVID-19 tragedy. Because of COVID-19, I never got to meet the man that fell in love with my mother amid a global pandemic. A man who also fell in love with her daughters through stories and photos. Because of COVID-19, their brief romance never involved vacations or fancy dates. They fell in love over Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and McDonald’s drive-thrus.
I am angry with COVID-19. So angry! But, Mom, I promise you this. I will get to know this man that captured your heart. You will tell me the stories of how you fell in love with him so that I can fall in love with him, too. COVID-19 may have kept me from ever meeting him in person, but it cannot keep me from getting to know what made him so special to you.
How lucky I am to have something so good that makes saying goodbye so hard. – Winnie the Pooh