March 20, 2022
By Arthur H. Gunther III
The passing of a friend leaves a space in life’s puzzle that you just keep staring at. Where is that piece – was it misplaced? The blurring of reality and the unreal continues as the waves of grief truly wash again and again.
Way back in November 2005, I received an email from Elaine Muise Calabro in Grand Junction, Colorado. I worked with her brother Ken at the former Rockland Journal-News in Nyack, N.Y., and given the growing internet, she found my name and the link to my weekly newspaper column.
That email led to a polite answer, and then an equally polite response from Elaine and then very close to 6,000 emails. She wrote, I responded. She wrote again. Every day.
This was not about romance, those many words, but about sharing thought on families, spouses, children, politics, humanity, jobs. I guess we were pen pals.
On Thursday, March 3, this year, the email from Elaine Muise Calabro, once of Congers, N.Y., once a third-grade teacher at Link School in New City, N.Y., read: “Will let you know what the oncologist says. Probably not until Saturday; I imagine we will have a lot to process, and I will be quite tired tomorrow.”
That was the last of nearly 6,000 emails from Elaine, with nary a day missed between us over almost 17 years. She passed just 8 days later, after having been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer even though a mammogram months before revealed no problems.
Elaine’s quick passing was, I hope, a blessing since she may not have suffered so very long.
Oddly, perhaps, but maybe it was the angels guiding, we had, just before she became ill a few months ago, written each other about how our mutual passings should not be observed by any service though we each believed in God. But our churches were – are – the trees, nature, humanity, paying it forward but trying not to let anyone know.
Elaine’s obit read:
“Elaine Muise Calabro passed away peacefully March 11, 2022, at the age of 78, in Grand Junction, Colorado.
She is survived by her husband of 52 years, Michael; children, Carrie and Chris; granddaughter, Jade; and great-grandson, Carter. She was preceded in death by parents, William and Florence Muise, and brother, Kenneth.
Elaine was born in Oakland, California, and moved to Congers, New York, at the age of four where she lived until moving to Colorado with her husband in 1969. During her life she was a third-grade teacher, a writer, an elementary school substitute teacher, a book editor, an innkeeper, and a librarian. A long-time volunteer in Grand Junction, she volunteered with the National Park Service Trails and Rails program on Amtrak between Grand Junction and Denver, HopeWest Hospice, and joined her husband setting out American flags around Grand Junction on holidays.
She was an avid traveler, reader, paper-crafter, baker, and lifelong baseball fan. Her core values were centered on compassion and education. She was a devoted mother and wife, and had a great sense of humor.
In accordance with her wishes, there will be no service.”
Life comes and goes so very quickly. Its duration can be a blessing for many, as Elaine Muise Calabro’s e-mails were for this writer.