A Year Without Harold


Harold Duet passed away November 2, 2008

I had never heard of Mesothelioma before my step dad received the diagnosis that this was the cause of his suffering. “Step dad” doesn’t seem a fitting term … he was our dad for 28 years. In the absence of our own father, he was much more than a step dad to us (my brother and I).

Mesothelioma arrived the same year that another intruder came into the lives of my parents – breast cancer. 2008 was a rough year. Our son was killed. Harold and Mom both had cancer. We moved to a new church and city. We left our grandchildren behind. And Harold did not survive.

My last conversation with him at his home was when we were sitting at the kitchen table. He said, through labored breath, that he didn’t want to say a lot about it, but he sure did miss John Robert. I assured him that John Robert loved him, and he did. “Paw paw” was loved by all the grandchildren. My heart goes out to his daughters. Aside from the fact that so many of us miss Harold, I’m most mindful today of the loss my mother experienced. She was just overcoming breast cancer when he passed away.

The first year of grief is so hard. I reminded mom a few days ago that it will never hurt as bad as it did at first. Those first months in grief are so foggy as we look back. It will not be like that again. It is a different kind of hurt … the one that lingers on and on for the rest of our lives.  Yet each year is a significant marker … family times are reminders … and quiet moments bring reflection and acute feelings of loneliness.

I miss Harold in a hundred different ways. But I mostly miss the love and companionship he gave to my mother. I always knew he adored her. And she him.

Tomorrow begins a new year without Harold. He is with us in our hearts. It’s just not the same.

Thanks for reading,


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