I’m not ready to say goodbye yet, but here it is. It is time to say goodbye. The gift you have given to me is that it was gradual. I get to say thank you, along with the goodbye. Thank you for teaching me tennis. Thank you for giving me lecture 47, about everything from cleaning my room to having a fight with mom, and then turning it into a life lesson. Thank you for getting down on your knees to wrestle with me, and play horsey with me, and pray with me. Thank you for playing the only song on the piano that you know, and doing it well. At least the first part. Thank you for dinners together, and basketball games on saturday mornings. Thank you for teaching me the old man shuffle when running was too fast for me, at age 9. Thank you most for loving me, believing in me, and never giving up on me.
Thank you for instilling in me a desire to be more than just me. To be part of something bigger.. Greater. Thank you for teaching me to expect and give respect. Thank you for never raising your voice or your hand to me. Thank you for showing me how I should be treated as a wife and mother. And thank you for showing me what a father should be like.
I get to say my thank you’s along with my goodbye’s, but also my I love you’s. So here is an I love you…
I love that you didn’t like Ketchup, only Catsup. I love that you would sit with me out on the porch and watch the birds, and the neighbors, and the cars roar by. I love that you let me watch you milk the cows all those early mornings, and even tried to teach me how to milk one. I never got the hang of it, but you didn’t lose your patience. Not once. I love that you made up the game, Balloon Volley Ball for our Family Home Evening game times. I love that it turned into a neighborhood favorite. I love that you built the addition on to our home big enough that Balloon Volleyball fit so well in our family room. I love that you aged so well. You look great with a bald head. Like Jean Luke Picard. I love that you loved mom so well and so deeply. And I love that you loved us 8 kids so completely. We were your life.
All these Thank You’s and I Love You’s I get to say to you silently as I patted your cheek one last time. As I held your warm hand. As I kissed you on your forehead. Almost a goodbye. But not yet. And I am grateful, Your last breath is your first step into your next life, and I envy you your journey. But still. Still, I am not ready to say goodbye.
Not yet. So I just hold your hand while the hospice nurse is called. I look at your peaceful face when mom needs to be close to you. And still I can’t say goodbye. When the mortuary tenderly and respectfully brings your body to the facility to be readied for the funeral, I know you are gone, but can’t say goodbye. The viewing is hard, because your sweet presence is gone from the body that is in the casket. I know that.
It isn’t until now, when the man in the suit is ready to close the lid of the casket, and asks that any of us that want to come by your body to say the last goodbye, that I realize that this is it. This is the moment that, whether or not I am ready, I have to…need to…say goodbye.
And so I say goodbye silently.
Goodbye to the past heartaches and pain. Goodbye to Cancer. Goodbye to awful pills and hospital beds and walkers with tennis balls on them. Goodbye to all that. And Thank You for all of who you are and have been. And I love you for being strong through this last part.
Goodbye for now.