My Mom pictured here from two very different eras. The first picture is a couple of years ago and the second is some time in the mid 1970s at my Grandparents house photographed with her late Brother Gordon.

Today is December 7, 2020 and this time last year I was working as the head coach of a very vibrant and growing fitness program in Davis. What we noticed at this time last year was how many of our people were out sick, very sick. I myself got very sick for a short time and when it was over we all talked about how bad it was and how we were all very glad to be over it. Looking back now, I’m convinced we had Covid 19 before it was announced as landing on our shores.

With that said, we all recovered and none of us thought twice about being around each other in close spaces. It wasn’t until January of this year that we heard about the virus and “how dangerous it is.” I never did deny that this virus existed and when we first learned of it, I was afraid for one person in my life, my Mom.

She had been battling Parkinson’s disease for 15 years at that point and was doing rather well, so we thought. Knowing that she had a compromised immune system, we all took the precautions that were given to us for that time which were simply quarantine, social distance and use a mask if you feel the need to. Her family and I all followed these guidelines and after not seeing her for 2 weeks she had to call us together for the worst news we could have received. She had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer a couple of months prior to the pandemic but couldn’t find a way to tell us. She didn’t want to believe it herself.

The pandemic added a host of new problems to our situation and eventually forced her to make a decision that during any other year would not have to have been made so quickly. She decided to go onto hospice care so that she could be near us. Had she chosen to take hospital care and try a surgery she would have been kept from us for months, possibly forever.

My Sisters and I took on the role of caregivers and with the news growing of a virus with deadly implications we cared for our dying Mother. It took one week for her to deteriorate into her final breath and leave us forever.

I’m so thankful that she made the nearly impossible decision to go into hospice and not the hospital. Nothing in my life will be that type of difficult and the memories of her final days are painful and dark but at least I experienced them with her. I am forever thankful for that.

My kids and wife have been stronger than I could have imagined they would be and my sisters and I are closer than ever. I have strong opinions on our current situation and I could rant and rave about how wrong this or that has been or how people’s reactions have affected me and my family but to be honest, it all seems sort of trivial after losing her. I know who I am and what I believe and I have an immediate family that supports those beliefs. We are a strong family full of faith and determination to live our lives free of fear and full of hope.

This year has been defined by the loss of my biggest fan and supporter, not the craziness of the pandemic. I will always shake your hand, give you a hug or even a kiss on the cheek because I can’t live in fear.