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Losing someone from your life, be it parent, child, sibling, friend, colleague, or mentor affects each one of us.

When does a death become a tragedy?  Death is a normal event. When is it a tragedy?  What does it depend upon?  The relationship of the deceased person to you?  The age of the deceased?  What they achieved during their life time? The circumstances of their death?

Losing my mom two years ago was one of the greatest losses of my life.

The other deaths were  of close friends – Tausi in Kenya, Angel in California, Claudio in Venezuela –  and my mother-in-law Hsiao Li Lindsay in China.

Nasra (left) Tausi (right)

Nasra (left) Tausi (right)

Of the four, Tausi was the youngest.  She died of HIV/AIDs at a time when most people in Kenya were in denial.  As Mandela once said, people with AIDs often died of stigma, even when treatment was available.  When Tausi died, her own family was in denial and treatment was generally unavailable in Kenya.  Her death reverberates with me as a tragedy.  She was young , talented, a mother of two – a very special warm person. If she had been diagnosed and received treatment in time she could have lived. We miss you Tausi.

Claudio

Claudio

 

Then there was Claudio –  a very exceptional person – a musician in the Venezuelan National Orchestra in Caracas — a humanist and role model for everyone who knew him.  Claudio lived a wonderful full life, although it was cut somewhat short by cancer.  We miss you Claudio.

 

 

Pamela, Angel, Margaret (his wife) in their kitchen in the Mission District, San Francisco, California , probably sometime in 2000

Pamela, Angel, Margaret (his wife) in their kitchen in the Mission District, San Francisco, California , probably sometime in 2000

Angel was another exceptional person.  He was an activist for working people and human rights all his life.  Angel was a community organizer in the Mission District of San Francisco, a leader in early childhood education for all and an all round exceptional, warm human being.  Angel lived a very full life and left it peacefully.  We miss you Angel.

 

 

 

Hsiao Li Lindsay, my mother-in-law

Hsiao Li Lindsay, my mother-in-law

Hsiao Li Lindsay died four years ago at the age of 93.  She was a heroine in the modern history of China.  She and her husband Michael Lindsay were in the underground opposing the Japanese occupation of China, which began before World War II. She wrote a wonderful book about her life in those years Bold Plum.  She lived to see Bold Plum published 60 years after she first wrote it.  She died surrounded by her family in Beijing.  We miss you Hsiao Li.

 

Portrait of Bette Hutchison Silver 2010

Portrait of Bette Hutchison Silver 2010

 

My mom was within nine days of her 89th birthday when she died in March 2011.  Her death was a tragedy to me as her daughter.  Her childhood was a struggle in a family with challenges of alcoholism, poverty and divorce.  Her adult life was one of sharing and participating in activities such as building support for the Kansas City Art Institute.  She loved to travel – to Mexico, to Africa and to Europe.  Her front porch in the Brookside area of Kansas City was open to all – for talk, games, and pot luck dinners.  I miss you Mom.

Of the five deaths, the one that seems to me to be a tragedy was that of Tausi.  Her death was probably preventable.  She died very young.

More thoughts on Death as Tragedy in my next blog.

 

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Why do I have

all of the dead

on the desktop

of my computer?

My mother

Hsiao Li

Tausi

Claudio

Angel

Do I think

I will forget them

if I don’t see them

every day?

Did I see them

every day

when they were alive?

Did I even think of

them every day

when they were alive?

So why now

trying to remind

myself

of the dead

memento mori

of my own mortality

And the living

my sons

my partner

my self.

Portrait of Bette Hutchison Silver 2010

Portrait of Bette Hutchison Silver 2010

Hsiao Li Lindsay, my mother-in-law

Hsiao Li Lindsay, my mother-in-law

Pamela, Angel, Margaret (his wife) in their kitchen in the Mission District, San Francisco, California , probably sometime in 2000
Pamela, Angel, Margaret

Claudio

Claudio

Nasra (left) Tausi (right)

Nasra (left) Tausi (right)

I can tell

that it rained

The parking lot shines

with small puddles

Fog covers a patch

of green hills

News arrives by email

a former boy friend

died some time back

How could that be?

I thought I would

see him again

Somewhere

Why do I think

I will never lose

anyone

who has been in my life?

Here in Venezuela

a good friend died

7 May 2011

two months after

my mother

I was far away

When Claudio died

I still believe

I will see him

Somewhere.

Claudio Bondy

Mehedy and Claudio in a Panaderia in Caracas, Venezuela

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