Tag Archives: funerals

My Recent Posts – Nonfiction / In Loving Memory of Jared Cross

It has been brought to my attention that my first three blog posts are about death. That was not purposed. It is the reflective season I am going through right now. I have now lost two people very dear to me in the last four weeks. My second post concerns my ex-boss, Robert Levin. A few days ago, I received word that a friend of mine, Jared, passed away.

Jared was one of the two best hires I made as manager of the inventory management and stock crew at Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center in Wheaton, MD. He and Frank (the subject of my book) had the same work-ethic. Jared was always on time, worked hard, and never complained. He was a quiet and polite man. Jared and Frank worked together for a short while before Frank became too ill to work. But it was not Jared’s work-ethic that makes his passing sad for me.

Jared and I spent a lot of time together working at the warehouse. After a while we began to confide in each other over personal matters. We knew we could trust each other in keeping our conversations between ourselves. We used each other as a sounding board for various personal issues we were having.

In the summer of 2012, I was living in an apartment under difficult conditions. Circumstances had become very tough for me to continue staying there. I had nowhere to go and my finances were limited because of these circumstances. I shared my frustrations with Jared.

A few days later, out of nowhere, he looked at me and told me he had talked to his mom and step-dad about my situation. They opened their home for me to stay there until I could decide what I needed to do. Their kindness was life-changing for me. I made plans for the move and within a week was out of my turmoil. It was during my stay with them, that I made the decision to move back home to be caregiver of my dad (91 years old) and mom (88 years old). I shared my decision with Jared and his parents and they affirmed that it was the right thing to do. I moved back home on September 1, 2012.

I have stayed in touch with Jared and his family since then. Whenever I drove to Maryland, I would stop by and talk to Jared. On December 2, I drove up for a visit. I stopped by the warehouse where Jared and I had a great conversation outside on the sidewalk. He was happy and was looking forward to the New Year. We talked about the loss of Robert (one of the owners) and the changes it might bring to the store. I peeked into the warehouse and saw that it was in the same excellent order it was in fifteen months ago when I left. It brought a smile to my face. We said goodbye and I went on my way. I am grateful I had that conversation with Jared and spent time with him before he left this life too soon.

Within twenty-one months I have lost three people that made a significant impact on my life. Though it is not healthy to dwell on death or be overcome by grief, their lives are an important reminder to me as to how precious this life is, how fragile it is, and how important it is to live in the now and let tomorrow worry about itself.

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Seven Weeks – Nonfiction / In Loving Memory of Robert Levin

I remember that morning quite vividly. I had arrived at the store very early. It was in the spring of 2010. I was battling an episode of depression. I was tired and uncertain of the turn my life had taken. You listened to my heart and held me as I wept on your shoulder. It was a moment of compassion that I needed, a time when our two totally different worlds met in an embrace of empathy.

I had worked for your family since early 1993. You had watched me struggle over the years with some personal matters, but I had kept them separate from my work at the store. As a devoted and trustworthy employee, I had given the best I could to my work at the store. On that morning when I came to you, you did not hesitate to listen to what I had to say. You were also going through some personal changes in your life and briefly shared with me what they were. It was a defining moment in our relationship for me.

I made the decision to move back home in August of 2012. My parents were getting up in age and needed someone to be there for them. My dad had turned 90 in June of that year. My mom was 87. They were healthy, but they knew that their health could deteriorate quickly at their age. I knew in my heart that returning home was the right thing to do, so I gave my notice and worked my last day at the store on August 31, 2012.

Due to my dad’s gallbladder episode and surgery, I had not returned to Maryland since April 2013. Prior to that, I had made the trip there once or twice a month to visit. I always made a point to stop in and say hello. You made sure to ask about my mom and dad and catch up with what was happening in my life.

The first phone call I received concerning your sickness was on October 23, 2013. I knew your family always kept personal matters private, so I sent them a two-line email letting them know I had heard of your illness and you were in my prayers. I knew I was going to be making a trip to Maryland on Monday, December 2, so I decided I would see you then. I received updates over the following weeks concerning what was happening with you. Though the reports were not good, I was not prepared for the message I received on November 23. You had contracted pneumonia, and the doctors placed you on a ventilator. Two days later, on November 25, you passed away. It was all too surreal. How could this have happened?

I drove to Maryland on Wednesday, November 27, to attend your funeral. It was there that I heard more details of what had happened. I was told that seven weeks ago you woke up on a Sunday and began vomiting. The following day your doctor ordered multiple tests to determine what was wrong. By the end of the day, he told you that you had stage four lung cancer. He said it was terminal. There was absolutely nothing that could be done for you. Within seven weeks, the cancer had taken your life.

Your funeral was a somber occasion. It was attended by family, friends, store personnel, and members of the music retail community, numbering in the hundreds. Everyone was in disbelief. The vibrant and fearless life you had lived had been extinguished within seven weeks by the ruthlessness of cancer. I always viewed you as invincible. The news of your death had shaken my world. Though I know we are all mortal, you always seemed larger than life in my eyes. Now, I sit 220 miles away from the store in my home. The void in my heart caused by your passing is still with me. I cannot imagine how those who remain at the store are dealing with that void. I will never forget that morning in 2010; I will never forget what you taught me; I will never forget you.

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