Portraits of Loss
Ronald S. Chandler
A collection of stories and essays that illustrate the indelible mark left on our community by a pandemic that touched all our lives.
My mom didn’t have a lot of symptoms. Then one day in September my aunt, who was living with her, called and said that she was having difficulty breathing and that something was going on. There were no indications that she had COVID. About a week later, Mom just went to sleep and never woke up. We later confirmed that she was in fact COVID-19-positive.
My aunt called me in shock to tell me on the morning of Sept. 10. It was a painful, surreal, and tear-filled conversation that I replay often in my mind and keep close to my heart.
I am the chief information officer at the Harvard Business School [HBS]. At the time of Mom’s passing, we were starting a new semester at HBS. We deployed hybrid classes where we had some students physically sitting in the classroom during the class session while the other students participated virtually via Zoom. My department, IT, was central to this work. It was the busiest time of the year for us. Home life was equally busy, too, as my wife and I had two sons who were going off to college.
Immediately after my mom’s passing, time became a fleeting notion, and I do not remember a lot of what happened until sometime in October. I was just in business mode, but the nuances of life outside of work were a blur.
Within a matter of six weeks, I packed up the house in South Carolina where my mom and aunt were living, settled my mom’s affairs and relocated my aunt back to the Boston area. It was not until the beginning of November that I could finally start the grieving process. Then came the month of December. Mom’s birthday is in December. That was particularly tough.