The grief chronicles: Reflections from those who loved and lost during the past year

The Grief Chronicles

Reflections from those who loved and lost during the past year

Published on December 14, 2017

Americans are famously uncomfortable with death, pushing it away into well-manicured cemeteries and lily-scented funeral homes. This discomfort can make us deeply awkward around mourning and mourners. Recently, we talked to the families (and one close friend) of eight Washington-area residents — from a 97-year-old opera singer to a 7-month-old infant — who died between December 2016 and August 2017. Their stories offer guidance and light for times when we ourselves will face massive loss — and for moments when we simply seek to help or understand a person who is grieving.

Below are short introductions to the lives of the deceased, and then reflections from those who mourned them. Quotes have been edited and condensed.

Above: Michael Votaw in the labyrinth outside St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Bethesda, Md. His mother, Carmen Delgado Votaw, died at age 81 in February.

Above: Phukhanh Karakorn, left, and daughter Kim Karakorn at the National Arboretum. Phukhanh Karakorn’s daughter Cassidy died in August at age 39.

Biographies
Mariko Ando, 97

Ando, born in Seattle, battled anti-Japanese-American discrimination in the 1940s to become a successful opera singer. She trained at Juilliard and performed across the country, including for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1955. She balanced her professional career against an intense set of domestic demands, as the wife of an Army officer and mother of four children. In the 1960s, she settled in Alexandria and sang for many years in chapel choirs at Fort Myer. She died on March 10, 2017, of respiratory failure and pneumonia.

Carmen Delgado Votaw, 81

Votaw grew up in a small town in Puerto Rico, the daughter of two teachers. Settling in Bethesda with her young family in the early 1960s, she became involved in Hispanic and feminist political activism, serving as co-chair of Jimmy Carter’s National Advisory Committee for Women along with Bella Abzug, then resigning in protest when Carter abruptly fired Abzug in 1979. Next, Votaw threw herself into work on Capitol Hill, including as chief of staff for the resident commissioner from Puerto Rico, a nonvoting member of Congress. She remained passionate about politics her whole life, flinging her remote control at the TV when she learned — months before her death from cancer on Feb. 18, 2017 — that she would not live to see America’s first female president.

Marilyn Lightfoote, 73

Lightfoote grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., a precocious student and talented musician. She was among the first African American women admitted as PhD candidates in microbiology at the University of Virginia, and she went on to a distinguished career as a molecular immunologist. A paper she co-wrote in 1986 helped describe the then-little-understood AIDS virus, HIV. For many years, she worked in senior positions at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, researching autoimmune disorders, promoting women’s health and serving as a mentor to many younger women in STEM fields — including her only child, Lynne Lightfoote, who became an obstetrician. Lightfoote died on April 12, 2017, following a stroke.

Michael Johnson, 65

A native Washingtonian, Johnson began his career as a drummer with prominent D.C. soul-funk band Spectrum Ltd. Johnson was a true Renaissance man, with interests ranging from photography to old movies to sports cars (Mustangs, always automatic) to marksmanship; he later worked as a firearms specialist for the Pentagon police force. In the final 10 years of his life, he suffered from Kennedy’s disease, a devastating neuromuscular degenerative condition related to ALS. Emotionally resilient even as he grew physically incapacitated, he kept in touch with family and friends through Facebook, where he loved posting videos of “fails,” according to his stepson, Hallie Williams. On Dec. 12, 2016, the disease finally took his life.

Matthew Mangold, 64

Mangold grew up on the West Coast and always loved the sun. After a stint in the Navy, he worked for the U.S. Mint his whole career. A personable, warm man who made friends easily, he was assigned to staff the old Mint kiosk in Union Station, selling commemorative coins to visitors. He was also a passionate outdoorsman, who loved to canoe with his two children and hike parts of the Appalachian Trail with his dog. As a retiree looking for new adventures, he worked as an extra on “House of Cards” and appears at several moments over the first seasons, including an inauguration scene and a cocktail party. He battled depression for years, and, on July 15, 2017, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Cassidy Karakorn, 39

Born into a close-knit family of Laotian refugees in Northern Virginia, Karakorn — a high school “goth,” according to her sister Kim — quickly developed her own idiosyncratic style and a passion for activism. She worked for 17 years at the Human Rights Campaign, where, as director of consumer marketing, she drove a number of highly successful projects, including a recent art exhibit honoring the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. She was a DJ and a constant and colorful figure on the D.C. arts scene, especially on H Street NE, where she kept a house filled with art, plants and souvenirs from her many adventures. She died in a traffic accident while riding her Piaggio scooter early in the morning of Aug. 27, 2017, just two weeks before she was to meet Kim for a trip in Italy.

Artem Ziberov, 18

At a young age, Ziberov was already a citizen of the world, a Russian immigrant who came to America in 2009. As a high school student in Germantown, Md., he mingled with a diverse group of friends, worked nights and weekends at an Uzbek restaurant and dreamed of going into international business. His stepfather, William Tewelow, introduced him to the Boy Scouts so they could spend time together. Ziberov loved the camping and community, earning a Bronze Palm as an Eagle Scout — one of scouting’s highest achievements. The night before he was to graduate from high school, on June 5, 2017, Ziberov, along with friend Shadi Najjar, was killed. Three men were initially charged with shooting Ziberov and Najjar (a fourth was charged this month) after allegedly luring the victims with an offer to buy an extra graduation ticket.

Noelle Sanders, 7 months

Noelle’s family enveloped her with love and care in the months after she was born in Frederick in May 2016. Noelle’s brother, Noah, then 4, treasured his new sister, and she thought he was hilarious, down to little things like the crunchy noise he made eating popcorn. The family had just begun introducing Noelle to solid foods, and she was a terrific eater, especially of mashed-up bananas. On the night of Dec. 17, 2016, a week before her first Christmas, she died of sudden infant death syndrome.

Cassidy Karakorn died in August in a traffic accident on Florida Avenue NE, a few blocks from her home, leaving behind family including her mother, Phukhanh Karakorn, left, and sister Kim Karakorn.




Cassidy Karakorn died in August in a traffic accident on Florida Avenue NE, a few blocks from her home, leaving behind family including her mother, Phukhanh Karakorn, left, and sister Kim Karakorn.

Hover over or tap the highlighted names for brief summaries of the person’s life and death.

I. Death
Mariko Ando Ando, 97, battled anti-Japanese-American discrimination in the 1940s to become a successful opera singer. She died of respiratory failure and pneumonia in March 2017.

Roxanne Ando (daughter): We got a call from the hospital a little bit before 5 a.m. Right, V? They called you.

Vera Ando (daughter): They said, “If you would like to see her, you need to come back immediately.”

Roxanne Ando: Because her heart is very irregular, or something. So Vera called me immediately. And even by the time Vera got there, she had died. It was very tough, that part. Part of you is prepared, and yet you’re never ready.

Carmen Delgado Votaw Votaw, 81, was involved in Hispanic and feminist political activism, serving as co-chair of Jimmy Carter’s National Advisory Committee for Women. She died of cancer in February 2017.

Michael Votaw (son): She was in hospice care probably the last six or eight months. By the end — I’ve never run a marathon, but that’s kind of what it would feel like. Just exhaustion.

Marilyn Lightfoote Lightfoote, 73, was a molecular immunologist who worked in senior positions at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. She died following a stroke in April 2017.

Lynne Lightfoote (daughter): I went up close enough to know she wasn’t breathing. I knew. I mean, I knew. I called 911. And I remember the woman on the phone, she’s asking me all these questions. I was like, “Would you just come?” And she was like, “Well, did you see her chest rise?” And I’m like, “Listen, I’m a doctor. She has passed away, she’s dead, and I need somebody to come now.” “Well, are you sure?”

Michael Johnson Johnson, 65 — whose interests ranged from photography to old movies to sports cars to marksmanship — worked as a firearms specialist for the Pentagon police force. He died of Kennedy’s disease in December 2016.

Truth Thomas (best friend): The nursing home staff were very mysterious about what happened. They said he had an incident at the nursing home and when they came to the room he was not breathing. When we got to the hospital finally, they put us in this bereavement area, this room.

Hallie Williams (stepson): When you go to the hospital and they put you in the room off that side, it’s not a good thing.

Matthew Mangold Mangold, 64, staffed the old Mint kiosk in Union Station, selling commemorative coins to visitors, and worked as an extra on “House of Cards.” He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in July 2017.

Marianne Mangold (daughter): My brother calls me and says, “I can’t get ahold of him.” As soon as he said that, I knew. I just knew. When I got to my dad’s place, I saw his truck was there. I tried to call him several times with no answer. I called the police and said, “I need you to come and do a wellness check with me.” It was dark. I didn’t see him in bed. The officer turned the corner where the bathroom was, and she quickly put out her hand and told me to stay back.

Cassidy Karakorn Karakorn, 39, was director of consumer marketing at the Human Rights Campaign, and a constant and colorful figure on the D.C. arts scene. She died in a traffic accident in August 2017.

Kim Karakorn (sister): I was in Italy, and I went sightseeing for the day, and I got back to my hotel and I was getting ready to pick out photos to send to the family. It’s all slow motion. The nurse on the phone was slowly telling me, and the whole time I’m asking her, “Is she okay, is she okay, is she okay?” and she’s like, “I wish I could tell you this in person, but she’s gone,” and I was in the hotel lobby and I just started screaming.

Artem Ziberov Ziberov, 18, a Russian immigrant, was a high school student in Germantown, Md., and an Eagle Scout. He and a friend were shot and killed in June 2017.

William Tewelow (stepfather): You know your day is not going to be good with a police officer saying at 4:30 in the morning, “I have some bad news. Can we go inside and talk about this?” We thought, of course, the most obvious. Car accident, is he in the hospital, how bad is he hurt, where do we have to go? But no. “There’s been a shooting” was where I think my mind spiraled into absolute, like, fogginess after that. And I slunk down into the couch with my hands on my head, and my wife was hysterical, and I should’ve probably held her and consoled her.

Noelle Sanders Noelle, 7 months, was enveloped with love and care by her family after she was born in May 2016. She died of sudden infant death syndrome in December 2016.

Sara Sanders (mother): I was a registered nurse. We did everything right. We did everything you’re supposed to do for safe sleep. I was pretty well educated on SIDS. She was past the typical age. I worked night shifts at the hospital. I remember that Saturday morning getting a phone call from my husband, and he was just in complete shock. It was an icy morning, that December, so I knew she was coming in from the ambulance, and I just stayed at work.

II. Aftermath
Mariko Ando Ando, 97, battled anti-Japanese-American discrimination in the 1940s to become a successful opera singer. She died of respiratory failure and pneumonia in March 2017.

Roxanne Ando (daughter): Immediately after she died, like the first week, you’re just in a state of shock. There’s this intense sadness, there’s all these ambivalent feelings about whatever the process was. You’re just totally exposed to the best and the hardest of emotional life. So it’s both a really terrible time and a really, shall we say, blessed time.

Carmen Delgado Votaw Votaw, 81, was involved in Hispanic and feminist political activism, serving as co-chair of Jimmy Carter’s National Advisory Committee for Women. She died of cancer in February 2017.

Michael Votaw (son): I was waiting with her body for the people from the funeral home, just me and the minister. And she said, “Mike, just know that when they take her away it’s going to be an odd feeling, but when they shut the door and leave, you’re going to have an immense sense of relief that you’re going to feel guilty about.”

Marilyn Lightfoote Lightfoote, 73, was a molecular immunologist who worked in senior positions at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. She died following a stroke in April 2017.

Lynne Lightfoote (daughter): Before they took her away I did sit with her. It was emotional. She wasn’t there. It was just a body. Not to be, you know, negative. But her spirit wasn’t there. It wasn’t the same.

Michael Johnson Johnson, 65 — whose interests ranged from photography to old movies to sports cars to marksmanship — worked as a firearms specialist for the Pentagon police force. He died of Kennedy’s disease in December 2016.

Truth Thomas (best friend): I remember wanting to eat all the things that Michael liked. He liked crispy bacon so crispy it was like black, like you take a torch to it, it was that kind of crispy. He liked pancakes, all the stuff that’s bad for you. Bacon double cheeseburgers with egg. For a good week, I was self-medicating with food to try to just feel better.

Michael Johnson with his Mustang in 1970. (Truth Thomas)

Matthew Mangold Mangold, 64, staffed the old Mint kiosk in Union Station, selling commemorative coins to visitors, and worked as an extra on “House of Cards.” He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in July 2017.

Marianne Mangold (daughter): That first Saturday night was like living in a true-life nightmare. There’s really no words to describe what I was feeling. It didn’t seem real, it was awful, it was scary. To this day — and I probably still will always — I think about those last moments. I think about him loading the gun.

Cassidy Karakorn Karakorn, 39, was director of consumer marketing at the Human Rights Campaign, and a constant and colorful figure on the D.C. arts scene. She died in a traffic accident in August 2017.

John Karakorn (brother): The confusion was the hardest. And then the anxiety, where I can barely hold it together and you’re going to tell me I have to tell my mom? Then I want to, you know, find out more details, and as a big brother I wasn’t there to protect her, and did she suffer? No one was there. She didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to her family. I wasn’t there. What was she thinking? Was she scared? I’m hoping she was in shock and didn’t know anything.

Kim Karakorn (sister): And she was just a few blocks from her house. She was riding home and she was just three, four blocks from her house.

Artem Ziberov Ziberov, 18, a Russian immigrant, was a high school student in Germantown, Md., and an Eagle Scout. He and a friend were shot and killed in June 2017.

William Tewelow (stepfather): My wife will just go into a spiral where she reconnects with her loss, and when she goes down that I have to go with her. Partially because I feel it, and partially because I’m her husband, so I have to be with her and nurture her and console and comfort her, right? I have to go where she goes.

Noelle Sanders Noelle, 7 months, was enveloped with love and care by her family after she was born in May 2016. She died of sudden infant death syndrome in December 2016.

Sara Sanders (mother): A day or two after she passed, my son kept asking, “Where’s Noelle, where’s Noelle?” And my husband and I were trying to still process everything ourselves. We were just figuring out the words to say. So we said, “Noelle’s in heaven. She’s with Jesus now.” And Noah would ask, “Well, why is she in heaven?”

Carmen Delgado Votaw had spent several months in hospice care before dying in her bedroom at home in Bethesda in February. “There’s a lot of pent-up emotion,” says son Michael Votaw.




Carmen Delgado Votaw had spent several months in hospice care before dying in her bedroom at home in Bethesda in February. “There’s a lot of pent-up emotion,” says son Michael Votaw.
III. Logistics
Mariko Ando Ando, 97, battled anti-Japanese-American discrimination in the 1940s to become a successful opera singer. She died of respiratory failure and pneumonia in March 2017.

Vera Ando (daughter): I had to change the furniture so that her chair wasn’t there. There is in fact another chair there, but it isn’t the one she sat on, just because it was too hard coming in the door and not seeing her there.

Carmen Delgado Votaw Votaw, 81, was involved in Hispanic and feminist political activism, serving as co-chair of Jimmy Carter’s National Advisory Committee for Women. She died of cancer in February 2017.

Michael Votaw (son): I had to get her engagement ring appraised. The people in the office of wills or whatever say, “Oh no, the appraisal has to say the value on the day that she died.” Well, what? That’s just stupid! I didn’t think about getting an appraisal on the day my mother passed away.

Marilyn Lightfoote Lightfoote, 73, was a molecular immunologist who worked in senior positions at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. She died following a stroke in April 2017.

Lynne Lightfoote (daughter): The storage units are expensive. So the longer I wait to finish the process, then the more money I’m spending on this. But there’s something about holding on to her things that makes me feel like I’m closer to her. Now that the things have been in the storage units for a while, the units smell like her. I can smell her in her clothes.

Michael Johnson Johnson, 65 — whose interests ranged from photography to old movies to sports cars to marksmanship — worked as a firearms specialist for the Pentagon police force. He died of Kennedy’s disease in December 2016.

Hallie Williams (stepson): He was pretty adamant he didn’t want a burial. He wanted to be cremated. And so communicating that to family, it was tough. Because everybody has their idea of how someone should leave. People thought he should be buried, we should have it in the church, we should have this pastor because he did this christening for this family member. All that. It’s like, did you talk to him about this? No.

Matthew Mangold Mangold, 64, staffed the old Mint kiosk in Union Station, selling commemorative coins to visitors, and worked as an extra on “House of Cards.” He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in July 2017.

Marianne Mangold (daughter): We did not do the paid death notice in the newspaper. Just the free one. When I spoke to the gentleman, he made a comment that he had to confirm that that was the way my dad passed. I didn’t know that they were going to say that in the way they did. It’s not that I’m ashamed or hiding it, it’s just that it’s very hard to read.

Cassidy Karakorn Karakorn, 39, was director of consumer marketing at the Human Rights Campaign, and a constant and colorful figure on the D.C. arts scene. She died in a traffic accident in August 2017.

John Karakorn (brother): I don’t like these tasks I’m doing for you now that you’re dead. Because it dissociates the love. I picked up her cellphone, and it says Jane Doe on it. You read the police report and you just go: Why am I reading a police report, why am I reading a death certificate, why am I ordering an obituary, why are we putting her through these arrangements?

Kim Karakorn (sister): I feel like I’m invading her privacy, going through her bills and going through her work notebooks. She’s got her checklist, but she also has unfinished poems in there, you know? It just doesn’t feel right doing it.

Artem Ziberov Ziberov, 18, a Russian immigrant, was a high school student in Germantown, Md., and an Eagle Scout. He and a friend were shot and killed in June 2017.

William Tewelow (stepfather): There could be three independent trials. Which means we’ve got to sit there and listen to the horrific details of our son’s death three different times. I feel like that’s being a victim four times.

Noelle Sanders Noelle, 7 months, was enveloped with love and care by her family after she was born in May 2016. She died of sudden infant death syndrome in December 2016.

Sara Sanders (mother): The day she passed I had to pump, because I got to the point where I was so engorged it was just painful. And I pumped fully like I would’ve before. And actually for a few days I just kept pumping and I kept storing the breast milk. It was almost like that shock was still there that she was not really gone yet, so I still kept up pumping and storing.

IV. What Lingers
Mariko Ando Ando, 97, battled anti-Japanese-American discrimination in the 1940s to become a successful opera singer. She died of respiratory failure and pneumonia in March 2017.

Vera Ando (daughter): I was thinking about how much of the family history and stories will never be known now. In your daily life you don’t think to ask many of the questions. I did start trying to ask them in the last year or so, and either it wasn’t in her memory bank at that point, or — I must say, it’s probably part of the Asian upbringing, you tend not to talk about yourself, toot your own horn or whatever. So there were answers that I never got. There’s a part of Mom I don’t really know.

Carmen Delgado Votaw Votaw, 81, was involved in Hispanic and feminist political activism, serving as co-chair of Jimmy Carter’s National Advisory Committee for Women. She died of cancer in February 2017.

Michael Votaw (son): There’s a lot of pent-up emotion. As a caretaker, you end up with a lot of resentment. You end up with no time to look out for your own things.

Photos of Carmen Delgado Votaw, who was passionate about politics.

Marilyn Lightfoote Lightfoote, 73, was a molecular immunologist who worked in senior positions at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. She died following a stroke in April 2017.

Lynne Lightfoote (daughter): I remember I was asleep when she called at 7:30. It was like 7:37. She’s like, “Hi, Lynne!” And if I had known that that was the last time — but who does know? But maybe if I’d called her every day, then I’d know that maybe she wasn’t feeling well or something else was going on.

Michael Johnson Johnson, 65 — whose interests ranged from photography to old movies to sports cars to marksmanship — worked as a firearms specialist for the Pentagon police force. He died of Kennedy’s disease in December 2016.

Truth Thomas (best friend): Everything that happens that’s significant reminds me that I can’t speak to Mike about these things. He was actually right in terms of his election prediction. But he never saw the protests that came. Never saw the people picketing outside of airports or reports about ICE deporting people. The escalation of the threat of nuclear war, what’s happening with North Korea. All those things Mike would’ve had strong opinions about. Anytime something like that happens, you miss those people who were your confidants, because they’re not replaceable.

Matthew Mangold Mangold, 64, staffed the old Mint kiosk in Union Station, selling commemorative coins to visitors, and worked as an extra on “House of Cards.” He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in July 2017.

Marianne Mangold (daughter): My dad died the 15th. The last time I talked to him was on the phone on the 13th. By this time I knew something was really wrong. We had a good conversation, we didn’t fight or anything like that. But as we were hanging up, in my mind I said, “I love you.” But I just couldn’t get it out. And as soon as I hung up the phone and we hadn’t said it, the first thing I thought was: Gosh, I really hope I don’t regret that.

Cassidy Karakorn Karakorn, 39, was director of consumer marketing at the Human Rights Campaign, and a constant and colorful figure on the D.C. arts scene. She died in a traffic accident in August 2017.

John Karakorn (brother): We don’t really say “I love you” all the time, like most families. I can count the times I’ve kissed my sister. The morning of my last visit to D.C., we were leaving her house. I gave her a big hug. I kissed her on the head. It felt so good. I said, “I love you,” and I told her to be careful. But I remember her walking, I remember her walking back and I kept glancing back. I remember feeling how much I loved her. And it was never — it was never like it was going to be the last time.

Artem Ziberov Ziberov, 18, a Russian immigrant, was a high school student in Germantown, Md., and an Eagle Scout. He and a friend were shot and killed in June 2017.

William Tewelow (stepfather): It’s not like I was a bad parent. It’s just I wasn’t the parent who was forcing a relationship, because I thought we had time. Spending time together talking about life and stuff — okay, if he wanted to talk, he wanted to talk. If he didn’t, he didn’t. I didn’t force that conversation because I thought we had lots of time.

Noelle Sanders Noelle, 7 months, was enveloped with love and care by her family after she was born in May 2016. She died of sudden infant death syndrome in December 2016.

Sara Sanders (mother): It was a good distraction getting the new house together. But we only have a two-bedroom here, so knowing that she doesn’t have that room, or you look around and say, I wonder if a baby swing would have fit there, or I wonder if she would’ve liked this. Or I see Noah playing by himself, and it’s like, you know, I wonder what it would’ve been like with the two of them.

“Part of you is prepared, and yet you’re never ready,” says Roxanne Ando, left, with sister Vera Ando. Their mother, Mariko Ando, died in March at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital.




“Part of you is prepared, and yet you’re never ready,” says Roxanne Ando, left, with sister Vera Ando. Their mother, Mariko Ando, died in March at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital.
V. What Helps
Mariko Ando Ando, 97, battled anti-Japanese-American discrimination in the 1940s to become a successful opera singer. She died of respiratory failure and pneumonia in March 2017.

Vera Ando (daughter): The process of getting everything together for the service, sharing photos, which we then used to make the program, was healing in its own way. It sort of opened the tap to let the grief out.

Carmen Delgado Votaw Votaw, 81, was involved in Hispanic and feminist political activism, serving as co-chair of Jimmy Carter’s National Advisory Committee for Women. She died of cancer in February 2017.

Michael Votaw (son): My wife and I went down to South Carolina to see the eclipse. We had a wonderful time. The rewards from caregiving are not many, other than the sense of doing the right thing. So you’ve got to look out for doing something for yourself.

Marilyn Lightfoote Lightfoote, 73, was a molecular immunologist who worked in senior positions at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. She died following a stroke in April 2017.

Lynne Lightfoote (daughter): I have a tribe of amazing girlfriends. God just put them all around me to help me get through this the way that I needed to get through it. They gave me enough space but stayed close enough so that I just felt very supported without feeling burdened by the presence of everybody. Because you appreciate everything that everybody does, but you can feel, whoa, like it’s a lot.

Michael Johnson Johnson, 65 — whose interests ranged from photography to old movies to sports cars to marksmanship — worked as a firearms specialist for the Pentagon police force. He died of Kennedy’s disease in December 2016.

Hallie Williams (stepson): It sounds cliche, but just stay busy. Stay active. And you usually hear about this with older couples — like one dies, the other usually doesn’t live much longer. You know what I mean? I’ve experienced that so many times in my family, that once the spouse dies, the other one — they say they’re okay, but they really don’t live much longer. So I just try to stay busy and active.

Matthew Mangold Mangold, 64, staffed the old Mint kiosk in Union Station, selling commemorative coins to visitors, and worked as an extra on “House of Cards.” He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in July 2017.

Marianne Mangold (daughter): The love that has been coming in has been helpful, overwhelming at times. So many people showed up for his funeral. People say the same things, like he was a gentle spirit, a kind man, sweet. And that’s who my dad was, for sure. But the part that sucks is that that depression — it made him somebody else sometimes.

Cassidy Karakorn Karakorn, 39, was director of consumer marketing at the Human Rights Campaign, and a constant and colorful figure on the D.C. arts scene. She died in a traffic accident in August 2017.

John Karakorn (brother): The thing that’s most comforting is the feeling of when somebody grabs you. There’s an energy that says, “I’m hurting with you.” It’s different when someone says, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” But you feel that the people who really knew her, it’s a bite when they touch you and they just go, “I feel you, man. I’m suffering, too.”

Artem Ziberov Ziberov, 18, a Russian immigrant, was a high school student in Germantown, Md., and an Eagle Scout. He and a friend were shot and killed in June 2017.

William Tewelow (stepfather): In America, probably in the Western world, you don’t laugh after somebody’s passed away. You’re not supposed to do that. But when Artem’s Uzbek co-workers came over, they talked about all the good things that he did, and they told stories and funny things, and by the end of them, we were laughing. We were weeping, but weeping out of happiness.

Noelle Sanders Noelle, 7 months, was enveloped with love and care by her family after she was born in May 2016. She died of sudden infant death syndrome in December 2016.

Sara Sanders (mother): A lot of my friends and co-workers, I felt like they were almost scared to talk about what happened because they didn’t want to make me sad. To actually sit down and talk to me about the grief and everything, I think most people get kind of scared because they don’t know what to say. But my mother-in-law would always text me every day: “How are you doing, are you okay?” And I think just those questions kind of opened up just to talk about everything.

VI. Today
Mariko Ando Ando, 97, battled anti-Japanese-American discrimination in the 1940s to become a successful opera singer. She died of respiratory failure and pneumonia in March 2017.

Vera Ando (daughter): I sort of felt adrift after she died. And still, even though it’s been, what, six months, I still get those moments. My concentration is not as good as it once was. While I didn’t think of her as a responsibility, somehow not having to plan and prepare around her has left me a little bit adrift.

Mariko Ando’s scrapbooks. “The process of getting everything together for the service, sharing photos ... was healing in its own way,” says Vera Ando.

Carmen Delgado Votaw Votaw, 81, was involved in Hispanic and feminist political activism, serving as co-chair of Jimmy Carter’s National Advisory Committee for Women. She died of cancer in February 2017.

Michael Votaw (son): My mom lived 80 years doing the things that she wanted to do, and was physically able to do that up until the last year and three-quarters. We all only have so much time. I’ve thought about maybe getting a teaching degree, becoming a teacher. I’ve thought about taking some time off and figuring it out.

Marilyn Lightfoote Lightfoote, 73, was a molecular immunologist who worked in senior positions at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. She died following a stroke in April 2017.

Lynne Lightfoote (daughter): It’s lonely. Like, I went on vacation in August, I went to the Vineyard for two weeks, and when I was driving back home I called her, I dialed her number, to tell her about my trip. I still have her cellphone. And I just pay the bill, because I don’t want anybody else to have the number.

Michael Johnson Johnson, 65 — whose interests ranged from photography to old movies to sports cars to marksmanship — worked as a firearms specialist for the Pentagon police force. He died of Kennedy’s disease in December 2016.

Truth Thomas (best friend): You think about what your life means. What impact you’re going to make here. What’s important and what is not important. I think I’ve come to a peace about that — that it’s enough. That I don’t have to do anything special. You know? That I’m okay, that I’m valuable. Just because I’m alive. Mike mattered because he was a loving person. Even in death he was a heroic person.

Matthew Mangold Mangold, 64, staffed the old Mint kiosk in Union Station, selling commemorative coins to visitors, and worked as an extra on “House of Cards.” He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in July 2017.

Marianne Mangold (daughter): I found a note dated September 28 of ’01. It was that saying: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. And he said, “To Marianne, love Dad, XOXO.” I put that on my little bulletin board, and I’m like, I need to look at this every day, because you need to accomplish your goals and do what you got to do because you need to do it for him.

Cassidy Karakorn Karakorn, 39, was director of consumer marketing at the Human Rights Campaign, and a constant and colorful figure on the D.C. arts scene. She died in a traffic accident in August 2017.

John Karakorn (brother): It’s a weird gratefulness of having had the time with her, but a searing, searing, jarring, stabbing pain — to me it’s shocked pain. It’s the, “What do you mean she’s gone?” And then you go, “Holy s—, she’s gone,” and then you’ve been crying and your eyes are puffy. It hits me when I’m alone. My sister and I, we get very angry when people say she lived a full life and she’d done so much. Well, she was just starting.

Kim Karakorn (sister): She was just starting.

John: And we were just starting.

Artem Ziberov Ziberov, 18, a Russian immigrant, was a high school student in Germantown, Md., and an Eagle Scout. He and a friend were shot and killed in June 2017.

William Tewelow (stepfather): I live on two planes. I live on the plane of, I accept something happened, but I also deny that it happened. Very strange, right? If I have to live in a normal world, and function every day, then I have to live in the world of denial. Because I just can’t go forward and function at full capacity, or close to full capacity, unless I can just push this aside. And I can’t push it aside! That’s the problem.

Noelle Sanders Noelle, 7 months, was enveloped with love and care by her family after she was born in May 2016. She died of sudden infant death syndrome in December 2016.

Sara Sanders (mother): My son will say, “I had a dream of Noelle.” And I remember asking him, “Oh yeah, well, what were you guys doing?” “We were playing.” And I said, “Well, what did she look like?” And he said, “Well, she was a little girl.” I said, “You mean like a baby or older?” He goes, “Older.”

Britt Peterson is a contributing editor at Washingtonian and a freelance writer in the District.

William Tewelow, Artem Ziberov’s stepfather, in Ziberov’s room. The 18-year-old was shot and killed in June on this street in Montgomery Village.




William Tewelow, Artem Ziberov’s stepfather, in Ziberov’s room. The 18-year-old was shot and killed in June on this street in Montgomery Village.

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