Life, Loss and Publishing During the Pandemic

I was in the process of saying good night to a friend when I got into my car and started it. I’d discovered that throughout the evening, I’d been receiving voice and text messages from my family for the previous 2 hours. One from my brother, my sister and my niece. Call! Emergency! 911! My heart sank as I knew there was going to be some bad news. I decided to call my sister back. “What’s up,” I said. She let me know that my oldest brother, Gregory J. Daffin, had died of a heart attack. My body fell numb as my whole consciousness took in the information. After what seemed like an eternity, I took a deep breath, held it for a beat and then released it. Could 2020 get any worse? The answer was, unfortunately at the time; YES!

It was like a 3-punch combination of pandemic uppercut; furlough right hook, and the sudden death of my brother last month, was the final knockout punch! The relationship I had with my brother was one of the closest relationships I’ve ever had. We were so close that the day after he passed away, I found myself calling him to tell him that “he had passed away…” Unpack that…

One of the projects that I was working on with my brother was, ironically, his memoir. He had drafted me to be his editor and I was about 3/4 of the way done when he passed away. We did a lot of things through emails, texts and Zoom calls because of the pandemic. It was almost like we had gotten even closer because of some of the things he shared in his memoir that we never talked about.

I drove to the funeral in Washington, D.C., and saw that one of my siblings and his family flew down as well. It was great to see him, his family and my cousins (who live in the D.C. area!) I had just seen some of them the previous week because my brother and I, along with some of my cousins, were on a Zoom call to start putting together plans for our family’s reunion for next year or the following year. The funeral was very “sanitized” due to the church adhering to the “Covid-safe” protocols. It really did feel weird NOT being able to hug the people that I'd known since childhood, due to corona virus.

My family had a follow-up zoom call a week after my brother’s funeral when I got back to Boston. Even though it’s still surreal that my brother is gone, I KNOW that I will honor him by finishing the editing of his memoirs and publishing the book so that his memories will live on through his children and the generations to come.

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