Our Loss

Preface: This is a piece that Joe Dolce – Blaise’s stepfather, her ‘Dad Plus One’ as she called him – wrote shortly after her passing, and which we’re publishing to commemorate the first-year anniversary of her passing.

The 2 am call to me from her husband, the dread of telling her mother the horrific news, the anxious drive to the Austin Hospital, still half-asleep, the long wait in the hospital parking lot with her sons and their partners (COVID rules), her mother finally allowed in, with the husband, the rest of us much later, watching her quietly lying on the hospital gurney, on a ventilator, unsure what to do, the necessary drive back home to await the brain specialist, the CT scan, the numbing drive back to the hospital, the gathering in the waiting room with her older sister, her older brother (whom we haven’t spoken to in seven years, the embrace and emotional reconciliation), the crushing news that it was hopeless to operate (catastrophic brain bleed), the decision to turn off the machines, the nurse reading through organ donation forms, a final farewell to her and heartbreak of listening to her mother whispering close to her, as though she could hear, how much she loved her, the leaving her behind, the silent drive home, the knowledge life-support was turned off, the reality of loss hitting us over the next days, her mother, in the bath, weeping that she couldn’t go on, the desperate embraces at night, the intermittent and interrupted sleeps, the planning of the funeral, at first, no idea how to proceed, the service to be held at Montsalvat Colony, the choosing of the cardboard coffin (her wish), the idea for her youngest son to paint it, his trepidation that he wasn’t able (too much grief), his grandmother’s encouragement and offer to work beside him, adding flowers, the unforeseen dental emergency requiring her to have antibiotics and rest, the decision to let her grandson complete the painting alone, his brilliant achievement, the drive to Montsalvat to inspect the venue, the preparations: catering, printed programs, live video feed, photographic slideshow, order of eulogies and social media invitations, the late morning drive on the day for the ceremony, her husband’s uncertainty whether anyone would come, the hall filling with an endless stream of family and friends, the gaily painted coffin covered in freshly-cut flowers, the moving service, her sister, husband and two sons speaking through their weeping, the fine measured talk by the esteemed author (a last minute addition), the reading of May Swenson’s The Key to Everything, her mother’s wonderful stories and memories with her, her oldest son’s wife’s unexpected but memorable recitation from the daughter’s final book, The Road to Tralfamadore is Bathed in River Water, the wheeling of the coffin out into the sunny courtyard, the guests writing short messages on the box, the utterly perfect day, the furious bellbirds chiming, her coffin stripped of flowers carried to the hearse and driven away, the tea, cut sandwiches and scones in the long hall, the emotional goodbyes, the long slow drive, back home, exhausted, the days upon days following with intermittent tears and joyful recollections, of the lost daughter, that never end.

 – Joe Dolce.

5 responses to “Our Loss

  1. How can one one not be moved by such raw emotion? The pain and grief at such a tremendous and incomprehensible loss is palpable. I hope a year on, Blaise’s memory continues to shine like a beacon and bring comfort to your souls.

  2. And can I add the continual giving of life after her death – organ donation. She will have saved many people including parents of young children. And her amazing gift to my mother, of the outline and structure of my grandmother’s story. Such a huge gift to us. So very, very grateful to Blaise and her amazing and beautiful spirit.

  3. Beautifully written Joe – and much, much love to you all who held Blaise close.
    Blaise continues to be missed and spoken of with joy and energy and admiration.

  4. I am so sorry. I have only recently learned about Blaise. I met Blaise while we were travelling over 30 years ago. We stayed with Kev and Blaise at their home in Australia and they shared their life and family with us at that time with their typically wide, warm hearts.
    We sadly lost touch. I am not on social media as such and it was through talking to my daughter about my travels that she joined in my search for Blaise to reconnect after all the passing years.
    Needless to say, we found Blaise and it was too late.
    I hold dearly so many memories of her and Kev from our days together-in Brunswick, Georgia where we camped for weeks in treehouses, here in Wales and visiting Australia. Those memories are of the best times, the laughs, hopes, JOY of our beautiful Blaise.
    Love to you all. Jo

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