Death is all around me this summer. Life is all around me this summer.
I might as well tweak that: Death is all around us this summer. Life is all around us this summer.
I am no Buddhist, for I am a Pollack. But I'm trying to wrap my head around why so many people connected to me have passed away this summer. All, but one, were a generation older than me and not in the Snooze Button Generation (TM), but this is forcing me to come to some conclusions that may be Buddhist-esque.
Perhaps this is what happens when a sophisticated gentleman, like myself, turns 40. Perhaps it's granted that those in a higher generation move on, but as I wasn't prepared for the XMan's inexplicable demise in 2011, perhaps I was not prepared for today either.
Mouse passed away today (Saturday). She was 71.
That is Mouse of "Uncle Steve and Mouse." She was the stepmother of The World's Most Dependable Man and Carlos, AKA "Know It All." She was a good-hearted, kind woman.
Mouse, AKA Maryann Fitzpatrick, officially married my Uncle Steve on the day I graduated from college in March 1995. She was with Uncle Steve since I was approximately 8, so I have known her for about 32 of my 40 years. She will be missed.
I just saw Uncle Steve and Mouse on the Fourth of July, in which we took the above photo. Although I have known Mouse's health was not superb, she looked far away from dying six weeks ago. I have no idea what to feel and/or think about what transpired today except to say that I loved Mouse and am sad this happened.
I especially feel for Uncle Steve, who lost such a huge part of him. I have no words for him, except to say that many people love him. By the way, during a recent visit to Cleveland, I ran across his picture in the regionally famous Harbor Inn. He is closest to me in this photo on a team of mega-dart champions in the late 1970s:
Mental illness and alcoholism remain taboos in modern-day America. They are both diseases. However, many of the general public do not view them that way. Mental illness and alcoholism, for some reason, are subjects that people believe are controllable. If either mental illness or alcoholism hits a loved one, many think it is because the person foolishly chooses to self-destruct. Simply put, that idea is ludicrous.
Bluntly, Mouse was an alcoholic. When she ordered "Mouse Water" at an array of Cleveland establishments, the bartenders knew that was straight vodka. Most people will read those previous two sentences and immediately judge her. Why?
Mouse had the disease of alcoholism, and her drinking was not in her control. I wish it were, but it wasn't. For lack of a better word, she had cancer, and she succumbed to it today. ... Heck, she made it to 71. She was happy, a good spirt and why not celebrate the positive impact that Mouse had on many people? I will celebrate her life, and I expect everyone who knew her to do this same. ... It is rough to see Mouse pass, but as the Indigo Girls say, "It's only life, after all ... yeah."