The Post I Knew I’d Have To Write…

The Post I Knew I’d Have To Write…

Bear with me, please. I’ve known I’d write this for weeks and weeks. I’ve felt like I was holding my breath since 28th September when Zach called -“Well, first off, Josh is ok, but he’s in the hospital”-and this is the exhale.  So, when the sadness showed up this morning I decided this was the day to let it happen.  It’s meant as a catharsis for me, a point to stop and acknowledge the hurt, because I haven’t, and I know this is not what I do all that well.

I guess you never know when it’s going to hit.  After all, the past two and a half months could definitely be entered into the “I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can” hall of fame- the flight to California, alternately thinking the entire trip that all would be fine or that I wouldn’t make it in time.  There was that moment of panic somewhere over the North Atlantic when I was sure he was gone, and, later, the assurance that I had booked my return trip for the following week meant that, surely, by then, he would be well.

In spite of those panic-y moments, I wasn’t at all ready when the doctor told us we had three choices.  Abbie was ready.  Zachie wasn’t.  Ben knew.  It actually took my breath away, hearing that we were being asked to decide to take him off life support.  It wasn’t a difficult decision: Abbie gave voice to it because they had talked about it in advance, and I knew in the deepest part of me what he would want.  He was a no-compromise kind of guy, whether it was his career path, his basketball team, political beliefs or the food he ate. And, he certainly wouldn’t have wanted to live with the kind of concession that was being laid out in front of us.  

So, that decision made and executed, I found myself worrying about others- Abbie, and Zach, and Ben, Jules, Max, Morgie, Lexi, Vicki, the nephews, the in-laws, the cousins.   We planned the memorial that Abbie had said she would give him- one last Riot Stage show.  There were rehearsals every night, lists to go through, jobs to assign, food to order.  We did it, rising early each day, sitting face-to-face with our workstations in front of us at the dining room table, like dueling computers.  One day, as I headed past the cabinet that housed the wine and wine glasses, for a quick visit to the bathroom before we sat down to lunch, I said, “Is it awful that I have wanted a glass of wine every time I walked past here today?”  Abbie said “Me, too!”  She hadn’t said anything, not knowing what I’d think.  I poured us each a glass of wine to go with our lunch.  

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Abbie: Head down and working hard to make this a Riot Stage production Josh would have been proud of!
Vince- he first met Josh as a student at a music camp- Josh was an instructor.

The memorial over, we felt little letdown.  The Final Playlist   exceeded our wishes, and the most wonderful part was everyone who worked so hard to make it happen: the Riot Stagers and other invited musicians, many of whom he had worked with for twenty years, the friends and family who brought food to feed the performers, the gathering of the old gang for the dress rehearsal- it was so special to see Bobo, Bert, Sutton, and Zach all  together that night.  

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Sutton, Zach & Bobo

I didn’t realize how much all of the performers were holding it together until the first song of the memorial, chosen by Josh, and meant to set the tone for what he hoped would be a high flying show for all of us.  Except, after a number of flawlessly timed comedic performances in rehearsal for “Let’s Talk Dirty To The Animals”, for almost two weeks, sweet Elizabeth totally fell apart the night of the show, just as as she started, and fought hard to regain her stride throughout the song. It was the first tears I had seen in all of the rehearsal time from the cast, and it was then that I realised it was because they were that professional.  Their musical talent was certainly apparent as they worked through the arrangements before the show, but I had no idea how much emotion they were holding as they worked.  It showed the night of the Final Playlist, though, in the spirited  performances and in the tears that flowed afterwards.    

A few days later my friend, Kate, came into town and I took her for a long weekend to experience life at The Clinic with Luke and Darin.  We headed back to town and worked, nonstop, on the business of Grrls Meat Camp and other projects for the next week.  Abbie was busy with the details of widowhood and beginning to work on the next year of Music Tastes Good.  I had to sort through things that I had left behind in storeage, once again dwindling my possessions down as I gave away more of my past life. I do like that these things are having a new life in the homes of family and friends (like Allison)..   And, in the middle of this, seven cooking classes to give that I had arranged for my originally scheduled Thanksgiving visit.  

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Our Turkey Day Selfie

After an early but wonderful celebration of my favorite holiday, sharing food chores and stories with the family,, I headed back home to France to meet my new puppy, arriving from Bulgaria the day after I did.  Then, life started here at full tilt- a photo shoot for a friend’s book, tying up ends on plans for a Grrls Meat Camp event in January, along with those things we get to do in France like wine tasting at the vintners and visiting chateaux that are open for the holidays.  

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Elsie after her first bath

So, I’ve know for weeks that writing this would be my reckoning, but i also thought it was an opportunity for a thank you to all who hugged us and helped us through the weeks since Josh died. Though nowhere near enough to express my gratitude and love, I offer a big applause to the Riot Stagers, and the Music Taste Good folks; to the  people of Long Beach who welcomed and embraced Josh; to John Molina who let Josh’s dream become reality; to the friends of all my kids who have become my friends, too.  It was my plan to thank everyone by name but I realize I can’t.  There are too many of you, and I fear forgetting someone.  

The amazingly talented and very much loved Riot Stage’ers



As for the family- I know we are each missing Josh in our own way, our own time.  This process will be ongoing, and will change our family dynamic forever.  The balance will be different, for sure.  There will always be a void of enthusiasm, of love, of Josh.  But we are more aware of how much we care about and for each other, and more conscientious about saying it.  And, that will last.

If you would like to see all or part of the Last Playlist, Memorial for Josh Fischel, click here! Thank you Jeremy Cohen and Donovan Haney!

The Josh-influenced Spotify playlist created by Zach and Ben

And, the next post will be all France and fun.  I promise.

32 thoughts on “The Post I Knew I’d Have To Write…

  1. Beautifully written. Made me choke up as I so understand the feelings and the processes. I’m glad you had such a nice time there with family and good friends, and that you are home with your Bulgarian doggie Elsie! Elle est tres adorable!! All the best and keep the French fun coming! xxoo

  2. Oh Maurine, I am sitting at the UpDesk and one to never miss a Chez Moe En France. My heart is aching and I am in tears.

    A Beautiful Tribute to Zach.


  3. Hey Moe:
    Thanks for sharing your love, your personal moments, loss but most of all your love for Josh, family, food, and life.

    It was grat seeing you, loved your cooking class. Hope to see you soon!
    Lynn, Burr & Saylor

  4. Dear wonderful friend…you have a beautiful way of writing what you are feeling. You and your family are wonderfully remembering your beloved Josh and it has been a sincere pleasure to read the words of love, respect and admiration written about him. None more endearing than these from his mother. ❤

  5. Beautiful. Grief, like layers of an onion, is peeled back one layer at a time. Here is your first. To be the Mother of such a creative genius had to be awesome, and somehow, I now know why Josh was who he was. Getting to know you through this process has been a true eye-opener for me…you are pretty damn cool. I am here for you…through the layers.

  6. I think about him and miss him every single day. I still have not fully found my words. Your words were absolutely beautiful. I cannot imagine the extent of loss you, Z, Ben and Abbie must feel. I’m his cousin-sis and I am still devastated. Much love to you and endless appreciation to the Riot Stage Family.

  7. You are so eloquent. I will wake up to my sorrow on saturday morning when my two week vacation starts. I will take time to pause and let it sink in. I cant wait to just sit and listen to the playlist and have a good cry. Not too many people understand me in this world. Josh always did and despite the infrequent physical connections and lifestyle differences we were Nando and Josh. We had a connection that transcended time and space. I love my new sister Abbie and the Fischel’s will always be the family that gave me love and acceptance even when I did not deserve it. You are a hero to me Moe.

    1. Nando, you were a part of our family the minute you and Josh met. And, I really did let it wash over me on Monday- I listened to the playlist AND watched the video of the memorial while writing. And tired and cried and cried. It was what was needed. Enjoy your holidays with all of your girls!

  8. All I can say is I Love You and I loved Josh..even though we may not have been in touch alot my heart and love are ALWAYS with you.Take care of you sweet Mo and relish in the wonderful memories.Josh will always be with all of us who knew and loved him….” Bless Your Beautiful Hide”xoxo Em

  9. Hi Maurine,

    Beautifully written it looks like he had a full life with many friends. I so look forward to your posts of your new chapter of your life. Stay well. Ernie

  10. Moe (Maurine) – this is beautiful. So well written… gut wrenching… colorful… loving… and so YOU. Josh would be proud. We are all proud! The memorial was brilliant. Your new life is brilliant. You did and continue to outdo yourself. What a miracle. xo (Hopefully there are no misspellings here… I hear the ability to spell is genetic.)

  11. Thank you for this Mo. I hold feelings too deep and this helped a few surface and find a place to get out. I cherish the conversations Josh and I shared about food. His passion most thought was music but it’s now obvious to me that you set him up for a great appreciation of fine food. He would randomly text me photos of dishes he liked while out dining. We spent a great deal of time developing the important ideas of how we wanted the food to be an interagral part of “Music Tastes Good”. When he and Abbey sand “In spite of ourselves” at our Valentines dinner party it was priceless to me. Lastly, I will always remember his warm strong hugs. I love that man. I look forward to keeping his love of food and music alive for MTG 2017

    1. Paul- interestingly enough, while I was writing this post I was listening to a number of different Spotify playlists, one of which included the John Prine version of “In Spite Of Ourselves”. Don’t you love how the universe can play with your mind? Thanks for the message…

  12. Maurine, thank you for sharing your beautiful feelings and thoughts with us. It sounds like Josh was truly loved by so many – so full of life and a such a talented man. So sorry we never got to know him. We hope you can feel the healing air hugs we are sending your way.
    Love to you, Toni and Steve.

  13. I am so sorry that Josh did not have more time with you, his wife, his brother’s and the groups of people he interacted with. I left Z a voice mail when this happened but did not hear back. You are in my thoughts and prayers and have been ever since this happened. Your open letter was wonderful… just like you. I can only hope that he and Frank are having a blast in heaven.

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