How Do You Say Goodbye?

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On top of Milan’s Cathedral – in cima al Duomo di Milano- Shot by Luca Vanzella

“I am not going to miss you.”

Been thinking about those words quite a bit lately but maybe not for the reasons you might think. You can blame Glen Campbell.

Can’t say I was ever the biggest fan but there are a few of his songs that have always enjoyed listening to. Wichita Lineman, Rhinestone Cowboy and Southern Nights comes to mind, but it is his most recent release that is just tearing me up a bit.

He has Alzheimers and he is well aware that his time is limited.

“I’m still here, but yet I’m gone
I don’t play guitar or sing my songs
They never defined who I am
The man that loves you ’til the end

You’re the last person I will love
You’re the last face I will recall
And best of all, I’m not gonna miss you
Not gonna miss you”
I’m Not Gonna Miss You- Glen Campbell

The brutal honesty and awareness here just kills me, I suppose because I fear very few things but this is one of them.

The idea of losing faculties and not recognizing family and friends bothers me more than I can say.

I don’t think about it much, if ever. It is not a disease that my family has a lot of experience with but I have seen my great grandparents slip into dementia and there were a couple of longer hospital stays that impacted one of my grandfathers.

That gave me more insight into what it could be like than I wanted.

“I’m never gonna hold you like I did
Or say I love you to the kids
You’re never gonna see it in my eyes
It’s not gonna hurt me when you cry

I’m never gonna know what you go through
All the things I say or do
All the hurt and all the pain
One thing selfishly remains

I’m not gonna miss you
I’m not gonna miss you”

But if you asked me to define why it bothers me I would say ever since ‘D’s final battle with the brain tumor I have thought about it on and off.

That is because there was a moment in time when the tumor cut off his ability to have real conversations and I never got to tell him what I really thought and felt. Never got to tell him that he didn’t have to carry the load by himself and that his friends loved him enough to try and help shoulder some of it.

He might have told me to stick it and said it was his own battle but I would have told him to go fuck himself and given him a big hug. I would have let him know that I would walk with him right up to the edge of the damn cornfield.

If you ask me if he knew this I would say yes. I don’t doubt it but some times you need to hear the words from that other person. Sometimes you need to say it.

Hell, this moment is one of those reasons I miss the guy because it would have made an interesting conversation.

****

Anyhoo, when I think about that song I can’t help but put myself in Campbell’s shoes. It has to be terrible to know that your mind is slipping away and that it is likely that one day you won’t recognize the most important people in your life.

I hope that my family never has to go through it. I hope that we never face a moment where I don’t recognize their face and they don’t recognize mine.

How Do You Say Goodbye?

I am not a big fan of saying goodbye, never have been. Most of the time I say  “see you later” or “so long.”

If I say “Goodbye” it is usually in the context of ‘I am done and this is over.’

Can’t say that is how it is every time because it is not, but it does go like that. Kind of funny to write about it because there are people who think I can’t say goodbye but that is not true.

It has happened more than once and it probably will happen many more times in my life. When I am truly done with you, I am done.

*****

When you know as many people as I have who have died from terminal illnesses it is hard not to think about saying goodbye. Hard not to think about what you would do in their shoes.

I never want to find out but if I was forced to learn I am not certain if I would want a chance to sit and have a last conversation(s) with many people.

I suspect there would be a small number who I would want to see and the rest, well…

Quick and painless would probably be my choice and my request but we don’t get much say in that matter now do we.

*****

A final comment to share here.

It is important to me to shine a light on the shadows inside my head and see what lies under the dust. Sometimes I like thinking about the hard stuff so that I can communicate my wishes to those who are likely to be here when I am gone.

If my gut is right that won’t happen for another 90 years or so, but it could happen tomorrow so it is worth thinking about.

Shit happens and people get surprised so I might as well do the best I can to live fully.

What about you?

How do you say goodbye?

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