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 Born to Write
 A Blog by Author Amy Hill Hearth

Death of a Sibling

Dr. Jonathan D. Hill, the author's late brother.



His name was Jonathan. He was a cultural anthropologist, a musician, a free spirit. He was a father, husband, and friend.


He was my brother.


It started with a phone call on a Monday morning in July 2021. Jonathan was in the hospital. He'd had a seizure the night before. This, in itself, raised alarm bells. I knew he had no history of seizures, and yet he'd had one that was so severe that he fell and ripped apart his shoulder. At the hospital, a scan showed "something" in his brain. He would be having brain surgery that afternoon.


It was my sister who called me, and she spoke slowly and carefully. Still, three words - seizure, scan, surgery - felt like three quick slaps to my face.


The surgery went on for hours. When it was over, we would learn that "something" in his brain had a name: Glioblastoma, a malignant brain tumor. 


With optimal care, Jonathan's prognosis was 12-14 months. With no treatment, he could expect to live four months.


He decided to fight it. He lived for 23 months, almost twice as long as predicted. He went into a final decline last spring, and died June 24. 


All is quiet now. Those of us who loved him are bereft and exhausted. We are like survivors of a crash, stunned and awaiting rescue.





Grief in the Time of Covid-19

Like most everyone else, my life has been upended by the Covid-19 virus. My mother died March 25 from pneumonia, possibly (I think now). She was 94 years old.


Because of precautions, we were not able to be with her during the last days of her life or when she passed away. We did not have a service for her – yet – because it wasn't safe for us to travel to the cemetery, located in Queens, N.Y. In the meantime, her ashes are in an urn at my sister's house.

I have found some solace in the knowledge that my mother was not alone when she passed away. A devoted nurse, who knew and loved her, was with her. It's not the same as having family with her, but I'll take it.

I'm grateful, also, that I had a wonderful visit with my mom not long before she died.

Numerous "Zoom" get-togethers with my three older siblings and their spouses have provided great comfort. On Mother's Day, we shared photos of her and told stories, again, all by Zoom. 


Most importantly, I'm grateful that my mother lived a very happy, productive and satisfying life. She was an unusual person, ahead of her time, a female mathematician in an era when that was rare. She was an interesting and fiercely-loving mother. And, although her body was frail, her mind was 100 percent until the end.

I know that everyone is struggling with the pandemic and now, the economic fall-out. Please stay safe.

Making Room in My Heart

I had to say goodbye to my little canine writing companion recently. She was (we think) eleven and a half years old. Her name was Dot, and she was a tiny Boston Terrier.

If you’ve ever had a pet, you know the pain I am feeling. I miss her so.

Dot had a

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