The Long Goodbye

February 21, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Posted in Family | 17 Comments
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There are many ways of leaving, and there are many ways of saying goodbye.

You couldn’t count the goodbyes in your life. Most will have been for short periods: “’bye”, as you walk out the door for a short trip; “See you again soon” as a friend leaves for a short time; the longer separation, with tears and promises to keep in touch. Then the goodbye where you know it is unlikely you will see each other again – either “Good riddance!” as you leave a bad relationship, or sorrowful  tears as a friendship ends.

There are the casual goodbyes, the relieved goodbyes; those which are cheerful and those which are sad; and there are goodbyes which are left unsaid.

But the hardest goodbye of all, the one you dread the most, that will leave you bereft of a loved one forever, is the final one. But even here, there are differences.

Is it more difficult to be with a loved one at the end; to talk together, at least for a time, knowing the goodbye, though not spoken, is mutually understood? Or is it harder when the farewell is sudden, wrenching someone from you in an instant; said after the spirit has left a vibrant body that now lies in a funeral home? One at least has time to come to terms with the first.

The goodbye I have been saying for months now is drawn out and difficult; the leaving, long and uncertain, and not even understood by the one who is going. It is saying goodbye bit by bit, as his mind deteriorates more and more, as memory becomes confused and then fades.

It is a hard thing to see the body of a loved one become more and more an empty shell instead of the strong, intelligent, creative and caring man you knew. You wonder why, at 90, he clings to life, is positive about life, even as his mind progressively loses the ability to live it.

You wonder how much longer will this goodbye take? How long before the body follows the mind to oblivion? You don’t know that, but what you do know is that, no matter how long and difficult it is, you will always hold in your heart the man he once was.

You will remember his love, his hard work and struggle for his family; you will remember his positive outlook and his fighting spirit. He will be, as he always has been, your inspiration. You will always love him, no matter how long the goodbye.

To my beloved father. You will always be my inspiration.









(c) Linda Visman

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