In the 2010 film "Temple Grandin," Claire Danes plays the starring role of the well-known professor of animal science at Colorado State University. When an animal dies, or someone she knows passes away, every time in the film, Grandin looks up in the sky and asks nobody in particular, "Where did they go?"
And in her first collection of stories, GHOST SUMMER STORIES, reviewed this issue, author Tananarive Due provides an endnote to the story, "Vanishings," that was inspired by the death of her mother in 2012. Due writes: "I am still trying to understand how our loved ones can simply disappear."
Those scenes haunt me. Where do they go?
I lost my mother, Ann Andrews, to ovarian cancer in October 1981. For 34 years, I have been asking myself, repeatedly, where did Mom go?
My beloved niece, Denise "Niecy" Moss Upchurch died on Dec. 12 from the ravages of very aggressive breast cancer that she battled for two years. She was 36. It brought back those devastating times with mom all over again.
Denise, or Niecy as we called her, was unforgettable.
My sister Barb and her husband Phil raised Denise on a chicken farm near Chattanooga, Tenn., in a very loving, Christian household. As kids, we would visit during the summers, but after Denise was born, in 1979, my family made the trek far less often. Unfortunately, the last I saw of Niecy in person was when my nephew, Shane, married in the summer of 2005. As always, she was fun, hip and full of charm.
I logged into LinkedIn the weekend of Niecy's death and noticed how filled her professional page was of support as she was a fantastic professional, working for quite a few years for ServPro. ServPro is a disaster remediation company.
When Deb and I endured the worst natural disaster in Hershey's history, on Sept. 7, 2011, with Noah-and-the-Arc levels of flooding that caused massive damages to Hershey properties, including thousands of dollars to ours, I called Niecy for some advice on recovering from the catastrophe. That was it: Mid-September 2011 was the last time I spoke with Niecy. She developed cancer a few years later but, like a cat with nine lives, kept bouncing back to health. Naturally, we just assumed she'd beat it.
I promised her mother, Barb, my sister, that Deb and I would visit the family in 2014. And I made the same promise again in 2015. But time and circumstances kept getting in the way. Still, something kept telling me time would be in short supply. Sadly, it was. A sudden turn for the worse, and two weeks later, in mid-December, she was gone.
Niecy was a great mom to Jeremy Everett and Mason Philip, her two sons. They were so lucky to have a great mom and dad. It is so hard on boys to lose their mother. It was the most difficult thing for us boys, my two brothers and I, to endure. The pain lingers to this day, and I miss Mom deeply and dearly.
It is extremely hard to understand where those we love so dearly end up going.
Where are they? I hope they are OK.