Death is Love

Matthew Teutsch
5 min readNov 3, 2022

At the start of the pandemic, we’d go walking around the neighborhood in the evenings. When we got a dog that summer, we’d take him for walks through the streets, past houses with people we didn’t know. We’d take different paths on our walks, and one of the paths we took would carry us down a hill past a white home that sat on the right. I always thought the house was cute, and I always wondered who lived there. A few months later, I’d find out whose house it was.

Right before the pandemic, in fact the month before our “lockdown,” my daughter and I acted in a play at our local community theater. During the rehearsals we met John Preece, a local actor who starred as Teyve in the national touring production of Fiddler on the Roof, performing as Teyve over 1,700 times and performing in the play over 3,000 times. We had just moved to the region, and this was our first play at the theater, but Preece had been there his whole life, working with the theater since he stopped touring. He would offer advice and encouragement to the actors, specifically my daughter since it was her first real acting experience.

That was February 2020. In March, everything shut down because of the pandemic. We didn’t go back to the theater for a while, and even my daughter’s summer show got postponed. Come January 2021, tributes to Preece started showing up on my social media. He passed away two days shy of his 73rd birthday on January 19, 2021. He had contracted COVID and was in the hospital for a while. He was discharged, and he went home. A few days after he returned home, someone went to check on him and found him dead from COVID.

When the news broke, we discovered that Preece lived in the house we always walked past, the white one at the bottom of the hill. When I walked my dog by the house that January, he may have been there, dead, and I didn’t even know it. We had lived in our house for fifteen months, and we had no clue he lived around the corner. If we had known, we would have checked in on him, brought him stuff, made sure he was ok. But, we didn’t know, and that mere fact haunts me to this day because now, as I sit back in the house where I grew up as my mother lives out her final days I’m reminded of the importance of community during these moments.

I sit here and see my dad take care of the person he has loved for over fifty years…

Matthew Teutsch

Here, you will find reflections on African American, American, and Southern Literature, American popular culture and politics, and pedagogy.