After losing both my best friend and husband within six months, it felt like the universe was targeting me. I later learned that the sweetest thing we can hope for in life is to love and be loved.

Natalie Hopkinson
5 min readJan 1, 2022


Inside the Howard Theatre at the memorial service for Rudolph Michael Delano McGann, Jr., June 28, 1974 -March 29, 2021. Photo by Sam Johnson 3.

The year 2021 brought new superpowers. As it turns out, I can fix a clogged sink, and order and replace a part for a dryer. I can confront a political bully, and win. I can survive parenting crises and milestones alone. Most of all, 2021 taught me that people are awesome, and love is the greatest superpower of all.

My husband Rudy McGann passed away on March 29th at age 46 after an intense battle with brain cancer. We went on our first date when I was 18. Only now that I have lived without him for nine months can I fully appreciate what a privilege it is to share a life with someone so wonderful. It is also a privilege to hold someone’s hand, rub their back, and bear witness as your shared life comes apart.

It will happen to us all. One day, we will all be reduced to the basic elements: breath, joy, regret, hope, fear, desperation, breath. The sweetest thing we can hope for in this life is to love and be loved.

Rudy loved. Besides our two beautiful children, the greatest tangible gift he gave to me was for our 1st anniversary, which was 20 years ago. He bought a love-themed journal called “DESIRE.” Each page opened with an epigram about love by famous writers throughout history. He wrote detailed entries inspired by each passage with a related story, song verse, or insight about our relationship — then in its seventh year. He, a foodie and superb amateur chef, illustrated each entry with an actual memento from dozens of our favorite restaurants.

Of course I remember our Sunday brunches in Georgetown. That was part of my introduction to live jazz.

A red and yellow French fry box illustrated the story our first formal meeting at the campus McDonald’s. He wrote: “I remember telling a friend that I have found the one. Someone whom I can make happy with simple things and receive happiness in return.” In another entry, he pasted in a matchbox from U-topia restaurant. “We are living the…