Josh lost his father on Tuesday.
He passed away after an apparent heart attack after shoveling snow.
It is a terrible shock for everyone, especially for Josh, who was very close with his dad.
He was only 56, and was in very good health. It just doesn’t make sense.
Josh and I were cleaning the snow off of my car when his mom called him. I could tell from the moment he picked up the phone that it was bad news and I just kept praying that nothing awful had happened. His mom told him that she was following the ambulance to the hospital because his father had what seemed to be a heart attack. Josh and I dropped everything and he left to join his mother at the hospital.
Honestly, I thought that he would be fine. I mean, if you knew this man, you too would have the belief that he was invincible. He was extremely active, ate well (in fact, he had lost a fantastic amount of weight over the past year), had low cholesterol and blood pressure, and never seemed to catch a cold. He was known for wearing shorts year-round (which Josh does as well) no matter what the weather, and felt fine. I assumed that he would be out of the hospital in a couple of days and be back to his usual self. Josh would probably stay through to the weekend to make sure that everything was okay.
I was at work, on my break, when Josh called me. His tone of voice scared me so much because I can’t stand to hear him hurt. I asked him what was going on and he said that things were really bad. I couldn’t grasp that so I asked what had happened and he told me “he’s dead.” I don’t even remember what I said after that point because I was just so shocked and confused. After I hung up I noticed that everyone else in the break room was staring at me. I broke down to the first person that asked.
I drove back to the apartment and tried to gather my things, grab some things that I thought Josh might need, contact a couple of people that I thought he might not remember or be able to get to, and attempt to compose myself for the drive (which was a mess anyway). I had dinner with my family and waited for Josh to call so that I could go and join his family. I don’t think I stopped crying until I got to their house, where I wanted to attempt to be strong for Josh. He said the same things that had been running through my head all day – “he won’t be there when we get married… when I graduate… he won’t even be there to help us move.” His sister flew back from Florida and we picked her up from the airport that night. It was good that she had requested that Josh pick her up. It gave them a chance to talk before she met up with her mom and moved straight on to tears again. That day was just a day of absolute shock for everyone. It was so completely unreal. I still don’t think that I have grasped it. I don’t know when I will. Josh says that he has come to terms with it, but I really think that he is trying to be that way for his family.
I wish I could put into words how incredible this man was. He was such a wonderful, caring, and extremely intelligent person with an amazing personality. He was one of those people that are impossible to forget, even if you’ve only met him once.
Even the employees at the shop where I took my car this morning were discussing with me at length how much they admired him and what an amazing person he was and asking what they can do for the family. I think that there will be a lot more people at the memorial than we could ever expect.
His father was a professor at a university in Boston. From his descriptions of his classes and his students, he was no ordinary teacher. He took his students on many types of several-day trips to do hands-on study of the subjects (environmental science) and would even let his group of students stay at his house during that time.
The school is having their own memorial for him, and has set up a fund in his name.
He accomplished so much that one could hardly believe that he was only one man. Just a visit to his house would give you a glimpse of that. He has a huge garden (nearly a farm, I would say) that he built and grew with his own seeds from the previous year. The house is filled with all sorts of beautiful orchids and other plants, as well as a large aquarium and several pets. If you came by around mealtime, he would cook up more than you could eat twice. He managed all that, and in addition to the classes at his university, he taught many seminars and such at several other universities and at the environmental center in the area (which, by the way, he was the director of for several years). There are many, many more accomplishments that I could list here, but it’s not necessary.
This article appeared in the paper today, completely separate from his obituary (which btw, took up about half a page in order to list all of his accomplishments):
He was truly the center for his family, friends, and colleagues. I don’t know how to word that any better, but basically everyone turned to him. In a room where family and friends would be chatting, he was always the focal point – the one who dominated the conversation with funny stories and comments. When I was at their house last night, gathered with his family and two of his friends, the conversation was light and funny, but it just seemed wrong. Something huge was missing.
Josh had been calling him so often recently because his graduation is getting very close, so he was looking to him for advice on searching for a job and that sort of thing. He looked up to his dad so much. He feels so much pressure now to take care of everything for his mother and sister that I am so worried that he will forget to take care of himself and allow himself to grieve.
He is determined to finish his semester and graduate, which is great and is exactly what his dad would want. After that, we will hopefully both be able to get jobs back in the Providence / Boston area and move back toward Dartmouth so that we can be near his mom. We still have a lot of planning to do with that.
Right now I am back at our apartment to gather some stuff for him and take care of the pets. I am here overnight and may go to work tomorrow (my bank account is suffering), but then I’m heading back to Dartmouth.
I am typing this all out probably because there is no one around and I don’t want to call someone and talk his or her ear off.
There is so much that I want to say to Josh, but I don’t want to overwhelm him.
It is funny how I used to have difficulty sleeping with someone else in the room, now I can’t sleep without Josh there beside me. That is the least of my worries. At least that will be remedied sometime next week.
Okay, done typing now.