• Patrick Gabrion

'B' is for bereavement, not biking

(Editor's note: I've only once deviated from the topic of cycling in presenting my blog, and that important occasion had to do with my sister, Becky, for her help in getting us through a difficult time. Well, a key moment in our lives has occurred again and my need for expressing my emotions through writing has arisen for a second time. While this monumental loss has nothing to do with riding a bicycle, the act of going for a pedal has greatly softened my sorrow. Thank you for letting me share how I feel.)


Every day, we are reminded of the fact that 2020 has been anything but normal. The coronavirus pandemic has turned our daily routines upside down. It has impacted almost everything we do.


How we shop for food, clothes, vehicles, toilet paper, etc. How we greet people. How we treat others. How we perform our jobs. How we travel. How we go on vacations. How we attend school. How we invite anyone into our homes. How we gather at restaurants and in church. You name it, the effects are endless.


Mary Elizabeth Gabrion ... Jan. 25, 1933 — Oct. 7, 2020

I and my family, thank goodness, have been among the lucky ones. While the invasion of COVID-19 has certainly been an inconvenience, it — touch wood — has remained out of the sphere of those most dear to us. Unfortunately, not so for millions of other people in the U.S. and around the world.


Sure, our plans to visit Moab, Utah, this last spring had to be scrapped. And it would have been great to go to Quebec City this summer. This and that, and everything else, just wasn’t and isn’t going to be done this year. But that’s OK; the important factors are to remain safe and healthy.


However, the bizarreness of this whole topsy-turvy world really hit me hard the other day. You see, for a handful of reasons, but mostly because of the darn virus and its restrictions, I ended up watching the memorial Mass for my own mom as it was being streamed live on Facebook. I was a thousand miles from where I should have been.


Granted, I could have been there if I really wanted to be. But after much discussion with family members, and the obstacles that would have made things difficult, the perils of travel, etc., were just too great in our opinions. So, reluctantly, I stayed here in Maine instead of going to Michigan.


Despite all of that, I still feel like I let my mom down. All those times throughout my life, especially during my growing-up years, she was always there for me. But at the end of her time here on Earth, I couldn’t be there for her. The struggle in my mind the last few weeks — of whether to go home — left me tormented and sad.


There were so many “ifs” to figure out. If I started driving, would I make it in time to see her? If I got there, would I be allowed to see her because her living facility was in lockdown? If I saw her, would she even know I was there because her health was deteriorating so fast?


At least I was comforted by the fact that my brother and my mom’s younger sister were close by, and that hospice staff and others were keeping her from suffering. It’s just that I hadn’t seen my mom in so long, and regrettably that wasn’t a happy occasion either. It was in April 2019 for the funeral of my youngest sister, Ann.


Cancer, not COVID, took my mom's life, and now memories of what she meant to me and the rest of our family will help us get through this tough time. We will have a memorial service sometime in the future to share and reflect on my mom’s 87 years of giving and caring for those she loved and cherished throughout her life. Now both of my parents are gone, and just like the pandemic itself, it seems very strange and quite unsettling.


There was one bright moment in all this that I’d like to close with. Yes, we have lost an important family member, but three days after her passing another one was gained with the birth of my niece’s son. Welcome to the family, Huxley Edward Lloyd!

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