Thursday, November 10, 2011

See You Later, Alligator!


One of the deepest sorrows and regrets about your dying is never having the time to say goodbye. When my grandfather died, he was 82, lived a good long life, struggled with cancer for his final few years, and finally succumbed to everything thrown at his now tired body. In my heart, I said goodbye on many levels as his health deteriorated so that when he died, it hurt...but, it was also ok. When my father died, the relationship was so estranged and damaged that Daddy (many years ago) made his peace with not having a father on any level, so this was just physical confirmation. It still hurt and was a bit weird, but Daddy was at peace with his death as well. The ability to say goodbye seems to make the impact of death less painful and easier to come to grips with its physical finality. For many different reasons, both my grandfather and my father live on in me and help make me who I am today, as well as who I am not. They live in the very real person that is your Dad as well as in Daddy's memories and do you, but I got to make peace and say goodbye to both of them in my own way, and that made each experience something Daddy could accept.

Not being able to say goodbye to you reminds me of the final episode of M.A.S.H. called Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen. In the episode, BJ and Pierce do not get to say goodbye when BJ is given discharge papers with Pierce still in a mental hospital. Lots of things happen in between (thus the link if you want to tie it all together) and BJ is back at the 4077th, giving Pierce another chance to say goodbye. In the end, Pierce wants to say goodbye, assuming they will never see each other again while BJ refuses to say the words. Finally, BJ rides off on his motorcycle while the chopper carrying Pierce lifts off revealing the word "goodbye" written with stones. The episode ends with the chopper flying off as Pierce smiles. My point of all this is that tight bonds, no matter the circumstance are painful to break and the finality of "goodbye" is tough enough when you have time to face it and reconcile with it, but when you do not, finding a way to let go while still holding on is a very daunting at which I am currently failing. You see, your Daddy is very much like BJ...he needs his own way and his own time to find the best way to say goodbye. Until then, see you later, alligator!

I love you, son!

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