Goodbye and goodbye and goodbye and…
At every turn, there is another fresh ending.
We began you entered hospice, having danced around them for years. We said our so longs in between visits, hoping that the force of the words might keep you with us until the next trip. But the first real goodbye was the voice mail. “Anthony died this afternoon.”
Each one is a shock to the system, a punch in the face, a reminder that we never get to see you again. There are goodbyes in which I don’t have (get to?) participate. Sorting clothes. Shoes. Coats. The intimacies of domestic life, which were a way I never knew you. Seeing you in a casket, though… From a distance, I swear it looked like you could have stood up, stretched, and popped your neck and back. Up close, I couldn’t help thinking of the last man I saw in a casket and what your son must be thinking about his dad right now. Goodbye.
The church is a new beginning. Not a grand beginning, but we have to begin the service, there’s work to do. The hymns. The readings. There you are. And I do okay during my reading as long as I don’t look anywhere but the paper. Goodbye.
Six of us carry your casket to the hearse, and you know what they say about many hands making light work? For what it’s worth? Totally true. Emotionally and physically. Carrying you is okay. I stepped on Andrew’s heels, but it’s otherwise okay. Putting you in the hearse, that’s okay too. But shutting the door was awful, brother, and watching the car drive away? That ripped my heart, that latest goodbye.
You only died the one time. Why do we keep having to say goodbye?