February 13, 1940 – September 11, 2020
Dear Friends & Colleagues:
I want to share information about my husband’s recent passing, in part so that I am spared the need to repeat it. Here are some facts of our last year.
Last summer, Larry was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer (when your doctor tells you that after 75 you no longer need to get an annual PSA test, do not believe him or her). The average survival for this diagnosis is 40 months. There was a newly approved treatment with very few side effects called Abiraterone which Larry started. It worked and he had a great 9 or 10 months. We did everything we wanted to and were very active and happy.
I went through a period of deep grieving last fall as I faced the prospect of ultimately losing Larry but I did not let him see it and I did not let it impact our lives. After I processed through some grief, I was able to focus on living for ONLY the day we were in and not anticipating the future, something Larry was an expert in. All any of us have is this day, and living in the day is a great thing.
Because of COVID, Larry and I left Capital Hill on March 10 to go to the beach and had a wonderful several months quarantining together in our beloved beach house, doing hikes and beach walks and cooking. I don’t know if I have ever seen Larry happier.
In late May/early June, I saw signs that his cancer was defeating the treatment and alerted our son Abe, who came to live with us at the beach around July 4th. By July 20, the doctors had test results to prove what was happening.
Then on July 23, while driving in northern Virginia to a lawyer appointment, Larry had a stroke while driving the car (Stroke not devastating, but car totaled). The stroke made Larry ineligible for the only chemo option, which could have extended his life by 2 months and his misery by leaps and bounds — the side effects are notorious. I call that a save.
We left Hopkins and returned to our beach house around August 1 where Larry entered hospice. Up until his final few days, Larry mostly spent his time in our screened-in porch surrounded by our riotous gardens. Our son Abe and I were with him almost constantly, playing music, talking, holding hands. While it was possible, I took Larry for car rides and we used the realtor.com app to buy and renovate historic houses in our minds.
Larry stopped breathing at 4:17 am on September 11. His last word was “bullshit”, uttered when the hospice nurse on the phone beside his bed told the on-call doctor that Larry was near the end and needed a higher morphine prescription.
We had planned cremation, but Larry was an observant Jew and it was important to his family that he be buried and return to the earth. So I changed plan several days after Larry died and secured a beautiful plot in Congressional Cemetery on Capital Hill in Washington DC. Larry had an eco-burial (wrapped in a shroud in a dirt grave) attended by family and a few close friends.
I have no plans to change my life at this time – I’ll stay at the beach and Capital Hill – and thank goodness I love my work and can do it from anywhere. I am wrecked but at peace that I did all I could. I would have spoken to you each individually about this if only I could, but it is too hard right now.
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St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Attn: Tribute Department
501 St. Jude Place
Memphis, TN 38105
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