I was shocked and saddened to receive an email from my ex-husband John saying that his brother Mike had died an hour earlier that day. He had pulmonary fibrosis and had not shared this news with John until last week, when they did a FaceTime call. Apparently, this is a family trait, since John’s Dad also kept from him that he had various ailments that John felt he should have known about.

Despite Mike’s terrible semi-secret illness, he died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family. I’m not sure how this happened, considering that deaths from that illness are generally gruesome, but am so thankful that this was the case. John said that Mike knew the house was paid off, so his wife of more than 40 years (they married at 18 and were grandparents before they were 40) would be OK, and that his three boys were all fine, so he had no fears or regrets.

And you may remember that John’s Dad dropped dead on his way to the car with his wife Marj, as they were going on a routine shopping trip, at the same time I was watching a lunar eclipse and a shooting star that I still think was his farewell to us. In both cases I am glad it was swift and they were not scared or in pain, and that they had their loved ones with them.

The last time I saw Mike was long ago, when John and I were still married and we had dinner at Mike and Charmaine’s house. We laughed a lot and had a great evening together. They were a very caring couple. During the bad ice storm in Ottawa back in the 1990s, they had power for some reason when their neighbors didn’t, and they had everyone at their house, eating and staying and keeping warm until their power came back on. That’s the kind of people they were.

Losing Mike hit John pretty hard, and I’m trying to be there for him as best I can. I am thankful that when John and I broke up, his family continued to care for me, and that John and I found our way – or perhaps are still finding our way – to be supportive and caring for each other. We have helped each other through a lot of things over the past few years and I am glad he is part of my life.

A YEAR AGO: A last supper with Erica and Jessica before they moved away, apparently forever.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A busy week before I started my new job. A lot has happened there in the past five years.

TEN YEARS AGO: A hell of a hailstorm!

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Farewell to Florida!

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