I can’t breathe, losing Charlie

By Trace L Hentz (taking a break/blog hiatus)

I can’t breathe. That is the way I feel.

IcantbreatheJUNE 2020: We have multiple pandemics: The 2020 Depression, Covid-19 and the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed man, on live TV.
Charles (left) and an actor playing Abe Lincoln.
Charles (left) and an actor playing Abe Lincoln.

Then I find out my cousin has died.  Dr. Charles Bland, a film scholar historian and genealogist, was almost 80 and he and I had been working on a history project for the better part of seven years. I have mentioned him many times on this blog. For over a year Charles was suffering with Myasthenia Gravis.  The day before he died (on April 25), I texted and said I wanted to kidnap him and bring him here to western MA and break him out of that New York nursing home. (There were Covid-19 cases but he never caught the virus.) He texted back, calling me Bonnie and my husband Clyde.

Sadly our rescue didn’t succeed.
I am raw. I can’t breathe.
Everything we are seeing globally is seeding a new future. What kind of future? My husband is African-American and he is dealing with the murder of George Floyd in ways I am not. The violence, injustice, racism, what has been happening with the protests, has filled my husband’s reality his entire life.  He can’t breathe.
The scene in Minneapolis, where I lived for years, is beyond words.  I lived on James Avenue South near Lake Calhoun, or Bde Maka Ska, off West Lake St. I don’t think I’d recognize it anymore.
James Avenue
I walked around the lake daily in good weather.  Recently the MN Supreme Court ruled that “Lake Calhoun” in Minneapolis will officially now be known as “Bde Maka Ska.” Lake Calhoun was named after John C. Calhoun, the South Carolina senator who became vice president in 1825. Supporters of the change wanted to distance the lake from Calhoun, a documented supporter of slavery.  In 1837, Calhoun gave a speech on “the positive good” of slavery.   He also authored the Indian Removal Act.  Bde Maka Ska is pronounced “b-day ma-kha skah” (translates to “White Earth Lake” in Dakota)


Mourning takes time. Protests take time. Changing the world takes time.

murder vs riot


  1. I can only imagine your personal feelings about all of this, and have nothing to add except to say you know that I care about you.
    I also lost someone last Saturday, one of my best friends for over 50 years. He died of the virus at the age of 72.
    Best wishes as always, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

      • I am so very sorry, Lara… We are also being touched by this virus, as my brother-in-law was on a ventilator until yesterday (so far he is now improving) but the levels of despair were suffocating themselves…I can understand the reality of loss with this disease…and because my husband is Mexican I can certainly see your and your husband’s hell from here… We are too diverse a country now to NOT make change happen… and yes, it will be slow… too slow to compensate history and slow because to do things right takes thoughtfulness and empathy…but when it happens it will feel like overnight… it will feel like fresh air rushing in… because only when we all can breathe will the darkness reclaim the cockroaches and freedom will at last ring… cling to hope… Only sunlight can burn away the night… And the rise of the sun is inevitable.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My condolences, Lara. I hope that not too much time goes by until the memories of your Uncle bring a smile to you rather than tears. I know sometimes it seems to take a long time. My apologies to your husband for all the discrimination he has faced and will continue to face until all white people face the truth that we all are equal. Warmest regards, Ed

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It continues to amaze me the “liberties” some police officers have made int the past ten days or so in the face of the issue at hand. Unfortunately, we all should be afraid until both police practices, including mandatory wearing of recording devices that are turned on and the societal culture and people’s thinking, really changes. Warmest regards, Ed

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I send you my sympathies, on the loss of your cousin Lara.

    And my thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. These times are hard, but voices like yours might help to bring the changes many of us hope for.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Meant to come back to this once it wasn’t so raw for you A close friend mentioned the other day that he felt conflicted; when he heard the regular bad news re the US death toll, he found himself hoping that the numbers would be bad because it would lessen the chance of more Trump. I get it, but I’m also obsessing about the death toll and genuinely concerned about what’s happening. I’ve got many friends in the US, and worried about them. As you say, the only thing that will help is to unite, and not see things in a partisan way. Sorry to hear of your loss, but hope we can build a better world as this one seems to be falling apart. Everyone taken by this plague deserves to be remembered, and not shuffled into a folder marked politics.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The death toll is rising still and too many are numb here, my friend. But I did grieve hard and feel more peace. June seems a million years ago time is moving so fast.


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