5
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The times we live in stir emotions.


Reflection:

“See ya Monday!” That doesn’t sound like a last goodbye. Yet those are the words echoing across a seventy year span. My college friend, Jackie, had lucked out with a ride home to New Orleans for the weekend, while I had to take the bus.

Although my mother tried, there was no easy, gentle way for her to waken me the next morning with the news that Jackie was dead, killed in a horrific car crash some forty miles south of Baton Rouge.

Her infectious grin—a switch, lighting her sparkling green eyes. Her laugh, a bubble— growing until everyone around her was somehow drawn into the fun.

That was Jackie, so alive, so very alive. And I didn’t get to say goodbye.
During this past six months, there are so many to whom we didn’t get to say goodbye. It has been so difficult, so cold, so lonely, not to say goodbye. .…and yet you know that you cannot say goodbye unless you first said, “hello.” Can you remember some of your first hellos here? Think about it, see the face, feel your own tentative smile as you remember saying Hello to someone new. Many of us moved in knowing at least a few people and as we looked around, walked the halls, went to dinner, became acclimated, we realized a treasure trove of friendships were just waiting to be made, all starting with that first hello. Picture again the very first person who said hello to you the day you moved in….

Jim’s accent fell on my southern ears turning hello into a refrain from Sinatra’s New York, New York. We worked together to select the marker stones that tell you how far you’ve walked.  J.J. often reminded me that I was the first person to say hello to him when he moved in. He was so tall, and I’m still shrinking. Bob’s gentle grin, how I miss that wonderfully warm feeling just seeing him smile. Rose, tiny, mighty, twinkling like starlight. Tom, surely the whole world said hello to Tom, well, okay, maybe not the whole world. Pat Peterson, his hello— and so much more. Pat discovered I was an avid golfer. And I discovered Pat wasn’t even a golfer, but he was the person responsible for Golf Digest showing up in my mail box. He said it made him happy to see me happy. More than forty years ago, I had first hellos, and the gift of enduring friendship with Helen and Lynn of knowing they were always there for me, the epitome of Kahlil Gibran’s “friendship being your needs answered.”

As you hear these names, do you remember some special moment that made your life richer? Because of the pandemic, you may be feeling a deep sadness at the missed opportunity of saying goodbye, of letting friends know the gift they were in your life. So today, please find comfort in knowing how blessed your life and theirs was because of your first hello.

Yes, it was seventy years ago that Jackie died, and her smile, her laugh, her presence are just as real today. Perhaps I just…

always thought I’d say goodbye
not that I wanted you to go,
but, of course, I knew you would, everyone does
but I always thought I’d say goodbye.

I always thought I’d say goodbye
some long held thought, some wit or wisdom
those words I wanted you to hear
but I always thought I’d say goodbye.

I always thought I’d say goodbye
we were so close, you and I
the places we’d been, the memories we shared
and I always thought I’d say goodbye.

I always thought I’d say goodbye
now you are gone and I, I am here
filled with the echo of our first hello
So, I think I’ll never ever say goodbye.

June 29, 2020

 

Contributed by:  Barbara Furlow

 

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2 thoughts on “The Last Goodbye

  1. I loved reading your story. I wasn’t near my brother when he died, didn’t say goodbye and it was painful , I loved him very much and still miss him. Because of that now I feel he is still around me , I am glad I didn’t say goodbye because I still want him near me . I really don’t like to say goodbye I like to say “See you later “.

  2. After watching the film Nomadland (a beautiful film which I highly recommend) , I now say “I will see you on down the road…”

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