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‘THY BROTHER DEATH CAME, AND CRIED’

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BY DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI NEWS AND COMMENTARY

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY APRIL 6, 2020) — It is borderline impossible for a journalist or writer of any kind not to report or ruminate on COVID-19. There is so much happening so fast, with so much to say and so many unknowns.

Today, however, we must aver.

The pandemic has led to death. The Big D has been in the air, and it’s death that leads THE PLANET today.

In our 68 years, we’ve seen our share, particularly during the past decade. The closest loved ones, gone. The lump cannot be swallowed. There is no “coming to terms” unless, in the end, it involves acceptance. Ah, but try to get there. Active forces it. Passive avoids it. Dealing with the death of someone close to you is probably the toughest task the living ever face. When it descends, it comes dressed in a burial shroud that, try as you might to avoid it, envelopes you along with the deceased.

Typically, when we hear of the passing of a distant acquaintance, we shrug and move on without missing a beat. Today, however, we write about the death of someone we barely knew because of … the answer escapes. In retrospect, it’s most likely because of the weirdness of these pandemic times and the utter suddenness of the demise. Solid ground has been replaced with quicksand.

We speak about the death of a bride of four years, a seemingly healthy woman who nearly seven weeks ago gave birth to a beautiful baby boy just days after her loving husband lost his father. Grief dosed with new tragedy. Sadness preparing a niche for a statue of doom. We’re all on our way there.

This young woman, beloved by many, dropped dead suddenly Friday. No warning. No chance for goodbyes. No instinct or shared expression of life’s final murmur.

Just. Gone.

Requiem in Pace, Jessica Passetto Cutler, wife of our good friend Josh Cutler and new mom to a baby named James.

THE PLANET didn’t know Jessica, although we met her a few times before she married her man. It was the proverbial great match, one you knew would last “till death did they part.” Why did the parting have to come so soon? It’s like that with every death, that mountainous question of “Why?” No climber has ever scaled the peak. Its summit is the loneliest place on or off the earth.

Josh has been in our orbit going back to when he was 11 years old and an avid and daily listener of The Dan Valenti Show on WBRK radio. The lad was a political junkie. We would run into Josh every now and then on North Street and greatly enjoyed our chats with this energetic, bright boy with an unlimited future.

The boy became a young man, and in the summer of 2011, THE PLANET hired Josh as our baseball reporter covering the Pittsfield Colonials. In doing so, we help the lad fulfill his dream of being a scribe covering professional ball. He knew the game and its subtleties, and we would engage in vigorous debates and second guessing. Should he have put on a play? Why did he sacrifice? Did he leave him in too long?

Our interactions as his publisher and editor brought into sharp focus to tremendous upside of that kid. We got to know him, and we were made better for it. “A surefire future mayor of Pittsfield,” we used to kid him.

Since then, we have followed his growth from a distance, mainly on social media. He met, he married, he “settled down” into the role of loving husband, and he became a dad seven weeks ago, documenting the process on Facebook along its unsuspecting way.

We all exist on borrowed time, from the moment of conception. Death gets its price for what life buys us. Intellectually we grasp this finality, but — as we do with all absolutes in a relativistic world and as an act of self-preservation — we run from the feelings and emotions of this reality. The inner psychic clock that ticks does so relentlessly, silent and invisible. It hovers over ad under our every waking and unawakened moment, barely beyond the groping borderline of our awareness. We are all on the Cross, our arms outstretched on the druid wood (from Lowell).

When death arrives to a loved one, the ticking clock reigns in the realm of Truth as a loud chiming. In our shock and grief, perhaps it’s one of the few times we perceive life directly — as it is and not as we wish it. As poet John Donne wrote centuries ago, “Never send for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.” He was right. Every person’s death is a diminishment of our denial, driving home the certainly of life’s transient nature.

We are born to die.

Josh Cutler, a young man I have known for most of his life, woke up Saturday a widower. His seven-weeks-old baby will never know his mother. Josh, who lost his father a month ago, now has to deal with this.

How does one do it? We’re guessing by his initial reactions that, as “they” like to say, it “hasn’t sunk in yet.” That phrase, too, is a mask. Underneath it lies the sinking realization.

It ALWAYS sinks in, instantly. What takes time is the coming to terms, the grieving process that resembles a set of fingerprints, a shared aspect of life that is alike for no two people.

We wish we could pass the magic wand and make the experience go away, for Josh Cutler, for everyone.

We can’t. We stand helpless like so many others who would love to get Josh through it.

We can’t. He must find his own way, but we do know one thing that works.

If there is one time the heart must rule the head, it’s when the heart is breaking.

The way through overwhelming grief is down the middle,  straight through it. In an odd manner, perhaps the restrictions on hugs and proximity in this time of pandemic can be an aid in disguise, forcing those dealing with the sudden loss of a loved one into a direct inner confrontation that would otherwise be delayed. The feelings will be up and down, mostly down, experienced doubtfully the fullness of faith’s acceptance. It’s a tough roller-coaster to ride.

What do you do with those wavering feelings?

Feel them.

Fortunately, Josh has a strong support group of family, friends, and loved ones. We will all in ways large and small help him.

Rest in Peace, Jessica.

—————————————————————————————

“Thy brother Death came, and cried. Wouldst thou for me?”Percy Shelley, from his poem “To Night.”

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

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Johnny99
Johnny99
3 years ago

A very poignant and timely column Dan. I am sorry for your loss Josh. I hope memories bring you comfort and time helps you heal. And I hope in this time of so much death and despair in America, our nation can become one, and heal its divisions, and emerge stronger.

Bull Durham
Bull Durham
3 years ago

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Shakes
Shakes
3 years ago

What a great time to be a crisis actor in the USA! No fake news school shootings but plenty of hospitals needing fake publicity!

Josh Cutler
Josh Cutler
Reply to  Shakes
3 years ago

This is about my wife. Not cool.

truthsayer
truthsayer
Reply to  Josh Cutler
3 years ago

Deep sorrow for your loss, and prayers for blessings and strength for the days ahead.

Merry & Bright
Merry & Bright
Reply to  Josh Cutler
3 years ago

Josh & Little James, my heart breaks for you. Never have met you, but you have been in my thoughts and prayers all day today and will be moving forward. You have a beautiful special angel watching over you both and she will guide you. Let good memories of Jessica get you through this very difficult time. So sorry.

Anderson williams
Anderson williams
Reply to  Shakes
3 years ago

Grow up!

G L Knightpipps
G L Knightpipps
Reply to  Anderson williams
3 years ago

Not the time to act like jerks. Why does the plant let that talk in? Hmmm

The saint Procopperachmo
The saint Procopperachmo
Reply to  Shakes
3 years ago

Shakes,go to the nearest Exit. Don’t let your head get stuck in the door,we have enough shit already going around.

Kermit Frog
Kermit Frog
3 years ago

I will include them in my prayers. Sometimes we offer our pain up to God and it is easier. I hope the memories keep her close.

James
James
3 years ago

This is heartbreaking. I am so sorry for you and your friend and for Baby James. 🙁

W A Tabbaloe
W A Tabbaloe
Reply to  James
3 years ago

Load up On g e next few weeks.

Maggie May
Maggie May
3 years ago

Josh, deeply sorry for you loss. You have an amazing sprit and one that is nonjudgmental to all people one that accepts people of any political affiliation creed or color something you will pass on to baby James and one that everyone can learn from.

Johnny2Shoes
Johnny2Shoes
3 years ago

Josh, Baby James & Family,

In this darkest of times for you, may the love and memories from your dear departed wife and dad be the shining light for every step you take on your path forward . Be strong for yourself and Baby James always .

Mad Trapper
Mad Trapper
3 years ago

News break!!!!

Donald Trump authorizes the defense production act to Berkshire county!

The Berkshire Eagle will now be produced in rolls, compliant with Scott tissue.

Tric Dicknix
Tric Dicknix
Reply to  Mad Trapper
3 years ago

It’s all about getting America on track again. Trump doing a phenomenal job,and Mike to.

Josh Cutler
Josh Cutler
3 years ago

Thank you Dan, this is beautiful.

The school committee
The school committee
3 years ago

I am extremely sorry this has happened to you Josh.I wish you great strength in this tragedy.

Mad Trapper
Mad Trapper
3 years ago

RIP Jessica,

I’m sorry for Josh, his family and friends loss.

God bless you all.

Dave Bubriski
Dave Bubriski
3 years ago

Josh, so very sorry. May God bless and keep you and your family my friend.

Be The Change
Be The Change
3 years ago

Very sad & inspired – we must Love & be Loved. Love conquers all. Sweet Baby Boy will be the Joy of all Joys, more than ever ! Peace to you & your family Josh & James.

the 5th Dentist
the 5th Dentist
3 years ago

Josh,
I am truly sorry for your losses I am certain words can not express your sorrow nor is there anything anyone can say right now to assuage your anguish. While the coming days weeks and months will be difficult, overtime I pray it will become easier to tolerate. I pray that your memories will be held deep, given more meaning and treasures to offer to your son and for yourself. After you grieve I pray that you find some comfort in that fact that each of you embark in the next parts of life with a Guardian Angel.

Last battincnyna
Last battincnyna
Reply to  the 5th Dentist
3 years ago

Three items I’m very happy are closed down. The schools..greed…And the museum…Rockwell Robbery…Anything Arts…Beacon Scam and pro Ruberto Arts Economy

P

Last battincnyna
Last battincnyna
Reply to  the 5th Dentist
3 years ago

You should see the WOG (wall of Garbage) being thrown out on OAK HILL RD. It will take Ten minutes to empty it in the truck. I drive through everyday with my truck because of work and that road might be the worst in the entire city. Who is the City Council member that represents that award.

Herbert Waldorf
Herbert Waldorf
Reply to  the 5th Dentist
3 years ago

A big thank you to actress Eleanor Banks she has donated for equipment to BMI and bay state,way to go Ellie and thank you!

The Oldclubtrotter
The Oldclubtrotter
Reply to  the 5th Dentist
3 years ago

Dan, another sad death today. The Virginian…James Drury. We’re getting old man!

Mad Trapper
Mad Trapper
Reply to  The Oldclubtrotter
3 years ago

missed that, ….

like the rifleman, wanted dead or alive, rawhide, gunsmoke, priceless Americana……

The Oldclubtrotter
The Oldclubtrotter
Reply to  the 5th Dentist
3 years ago

Bombshell Dan. A memo was sent to the President about a full blown outbreak and warning. He ignored it. Serious shit..

Mad Trapper
Mad Trapper
3 years ago

Where is the BHS on culpability, for CR-19 spread? CEO?

Seems the major CEOs need to have heads roll, and mis-management too.

Why are they still running anything, besides a toilet cleaning facility ,hands on?

That is HANDS ON you SOBS!!!!

Johnny Absurd
Johnny Absurd
Reply to  Mad Trapper
3 years ago

According to the PIttsfield site only 16 Pittsfield people have recovered. Does that number jive with all the other numbers flying around in the air like snow flakes?

Sad Sack
Sad Sack
Reply to  Johnny Absurd
3 years ago

Has city hall ever had a real time number on Anything?

downplaying it
downplaying it
Reply to  Johnny Absurd
3 years ago

A life lived in fear,is half a life.

James Lee Conn
James Lee Conn
Reply to  Mad Trapper
3 years ago

Where is the city-on Oak Hill Road. So the theory is make it unmanageable to keep cars off its road? Or are they waiting for a full throttle repavement

GMHeller
GMHeller
3 years ago

REPRINTED FROM THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE (Mon. April 6, 2020):
“If we are sickened by this virus, it will be assumed we acquired it in the community and therefore workman’s comp will not apply” — Alexandra Huber, Registered Nurse

‘Letter: BMC isn’t backing up nurses who get sick.’

To the editor:

I’ve been an ICU nurse here in the Berkshires for almost 37 years. I love nursing. I love critical care.
From my heart, I want to thank so many – our coworkers from all departments who’ve sent food, who show up asking “how can I help?”. All the support staff who make our work possible. To my friends across the country checking in, wanting to know I’m OK. And those in our community who have shown such love and respect during this crisis. Today, a woman had food delivered for every employee. Every one! You all have no idea how much it means.
We will continue to do the work we do because…well, that’s what we do. But these are tough times. Extraordinary times.
On Tuesday, we were notified that if we are exposed at work, we are expected to monitor our temperature and come in…..OK. If we are sickened by this virus, it will be assumed we acquired it in the community and therefore workman’s comp will not apply, we can use our sick time, which includes vacation time in our case. Not OK at all.
The CDC continues to downgrade standards of personal protection, not because they work, but due to low supplies. What used to be “unsafe” and you could be disciplined or fired for is now the standard. As I read the notification, I was wearing the same mask and face shield for nine days. They go in a paper bag, and I bring them out, put them in again and again. It’s called contamination. Under these circumstances, presuming medical staff are surely being infected in the community is bizarre.
No one expects my hospital to have a magic wand when it comes to these precious supplies, which is why we reuse them, we have no choice. But I do expect my hospital to back us up if we get sick. The latest policy is not OK.
I can’t explain what the world is like in my ICU now, it’s beyond description. It’s stressful, heartbreaking, scary.
We’ll continue doing what we do. We need you to do what YOU can do…social distancing, staying home as much as possible, wash your hands. Love your friends and family by doing your part to protect them.
I work at a small hospital in the country. It’s here. This is real.

Alexandra Huber,
Lenox
———————————————————————————————————-

Mad Trapper
Mad Trapper
Reply to  GMHeller
3 years ago

The CEO and mis-managment at BHS are vile, greedy, reprehensable vermin.

Alex is spot on, as to her dedication to caring and her wonderful work with the really needy sick.

The fact she had to even write such a letter is testament to the greed, lies and deceit that permeates BHS management and the CEO.

I wonder if the managers are even fit to clean the toilets, door handles, and floors at BHS? That is where they should be working, NOW!!! Not hiding at home and sending out the good to slaughter like Hitler.

Thomas More
Thomas More
3 years ago

We will miss you our friend. We have been together from the first presentation to “The Wizard”. We love you. Rest in peace. Very sad for your loss Josh. Jess was the best
M & P

RN
RN
3 years ago

BHS is fucking nurses over again. No workman’s comp? Community infection. This is BULLSHIT!
No staff member at BHS is a community based infection.
This is all because BHS was not prepared at all.
Fuck BHS.
Also people need to wake the fuck up and realize that BHS is reporting only 3-10 cases a day. It’s a fucking lie there are over 350 cases they know are positive.
They are purposefully lying about the numbers and the deaths. Why isn’t the Berkshires eagle calling them out.L?!?!?