My paternal cousin Marshall Johnson died this past week. It was way too soon. He was way too young. This picture, from much happier days, shows him with his mother at our cousin’s wedding.
He’s with his mom again now and his father. Along with many aunts and uncles, including my father. And some other cousins who died even younger.
When my father died and my mom and I went to the hospital right after, Marshall was there with us. He was there for all of us in my immediate family many times before and many times after. How do I describe such a big presence?
It’s Valentine’s Day, so maybe the best way to talk about him starts there. With love. The day usually focuses on romantic love, but it’s also about love for family and friends. Marshall had a big heart.
He was always one for big celebrations with family and friends. The bigger the celebration the better. He was someone who extended himself to his immediate family, extended family, friends and co-workers. But he wouldn’t stop there. Then he’d also welcome the family, extended family and friends of the first group!
I mean he would go big with invitations and bring everyone into the fold. There would be lots of food, music and an atmosphere of fun and joy. Big gatherings were his thing – backyard barbecues, picnics at a Boston area parks, Super Bowl parties, birthday parties. All kinds of parties. He loved to party!
I have to admit, as an introvert, sometimes the sheer number of people that could be anticipated would be overwhelming to me. I attended many of the gatherings, but not all of them.
Something that I learned and especially appreciated about him over more recent years was that he would truly see and celebrate you as an individual. It didn’t always have to be a big event.
When I got a food writing gig with WGBH, I was so excited! And so was Marshall! He was genuinely happy for me and wanted to celebrate my win by treating me to dinner. I chose Myers + Chang and we had a lovely time.
I thought there would be more time with him. It’s a small circle of people who’ll celebrate your wins and be there at times of extreme loss too. My father was one. Marshall was one. My heart hurts losing both of them so recently. It’s hard to process it all. Writing through it is a start.
Marshall had a lot of extreme health challenges over the last several years. But he beat so many and came back. He was so strong. His most recent health struggles were just too much. I hope he is at peace now. He can finally rest.
I hope he knows how much he will be missed and how much he was loved.
“We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.
In the norms and notions of what just is
isn’t always justice.
And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.”
~ Amanda Gorman
The previous two Wednesdays featured an insurrection and then an impeachment. It was heartbreaking. While our democracy is still in a very fragile state, it feels good knowing that our current president, unlike the previous one, is not actively seeking to harm our country.
Now it’s nine days into 2021 and this is my first post of the year. It’s impossible for me to write a regular post right now. To a certain extent, I thought I adjusted to the pandemic. Thanksgiving alone was difficult, but Christmas was far worse.
And now as I feared, Trump is pulling all manner of shenanigans and we’re in the midst of a coup. He has always called for violence in this country. Going back to 1989, he called for the deaths of five Black and Latino teens in the Central Park jogger case. They were wrongly accused, but he didn’t care.
Not truly conceding that he lost the election to Joe Biden, Trump riled up his supporters to seek justice for him. Through treason. They violently took over the Capitol resulting in five deaths. Just noticing the number five playing out repeatedly here. He wanted five people killed back then and five died recently. That’s odd….
Anyway, now he’s permanently banned from Twitter and most social media platforms because he continues to incite violence. We only have eleven days before the inauguration of Biden and Harris. So much can happen in that time and has already in just a few days.
One really good thing that happened was that Democrats will take control of the Senate after the wins of Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. That was such wonderful news to hear early Wednesday. Then within hours the Capitol was taken over. It’s too much to process. There wasn’t time to enjoy the win.
Trump hasn’t been impeached again yet. But that may happen on Monday. He has not resigned, even though there are calls for it. Pence refuses to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, even though the insurrectionists appear to have planned to lynch Pence for following the constitution and not overturning the electoral college vote.
The country is in limbo waiting to see what happens next. I hate this movie!
That’s all I got right now. 2021. Please get better.