Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Goodbye Letter

You've won the lottery! No, not that lottery -- the Goodbye Lottery. For some reason, as Death comes to collect you, he gives you leave to write a farewell letter to your family and friends. What do you write?

Dear Everyone,

I know that sounds a bit stupid, but you will have to forgive me.  Not everyone gets this chance and I can't decide if it's a blessing or a curse.  Death is standing here and will be taking me soon, but has given me time to write a note to say goodbye.  I guess most would consider it a boon but I'm finding it a very uneasy task.  Concentrating on what's most important to say to you as I am also contemplating the fact that I will be dead when I'm finished is a very surreal feeling.  I'm sure you'll all understand and forgive me if I'm a bit incoherent.

Katie & Christina, y'all have been wonderful friends.  It's so nice to have women friends to share my life with - especially since our kids' lives are so intertwined.  I've always thought it important to know my kids' friends' parents but seldom have I ever been so close to them.  I will always smile (if there's still smiling where I'm going) when I remember the fun, goofy times we've had together.

Jeannie, there's just something about you, girl -- something that makes me feel I can share my deepest, darkest secrets knowing they will never go further, but more importantly, they won't make you run screaming from contact with me.  I haven't had a friend this close in at least a couple of decades and I forgot how important it can be to have someone like you.  Not only can I share all my secrets with you, I don't have to explain feelings to you (like I sometimes do with King Charming - you know how that male/female communication can sometimes be a bit stilted).  I hope you one day find true happiness and a soulmate to share your life with.  I don't know anyone more caring or more deserving.

Brandy, I want you to know I do love you.  I know we've had a hard time the past couple of decades because I'm so strongly opinionated about the "mom" thing.  It must have been hard on you for me to call you Mom when I was younger but to feel so strongly about it now.  I hope you understand that my feelings stem from knowing what a mom is now and from knowing how hard the job can be.  But I want you to know that I do understand why you made the decisions you did and I recognize that were I in your place I might do the same thing.  It must have been hard on you and I want you to know I recognize that.  And know that I love you.

Michelle, funny how things work out, huh?  Remember that song "Seasons in the Sun"?  It definitely is hard to die when all the birds are singing in the sky.  I always had a hard time with that song.  Maybe some part of me knew this day was going to come just as it has.  You know there have been times when we didn't get along but know that I always loved you and all I ever wanted was for you to be happy.  You deserve so very much to be happy and not to have to have dealt with some of the trials some of the men in your life have put you through.  You have such a wonderfully big heart -- I think that's why you needed the heart surgery.  You are sooo loving and kind and give so much of your heart to the people around you that it just needed a bit of renewing.  Love ya, Kiddo!

Bobby, you're growing into a fine young man.  I know there was a time there when you had Meme very worried about you but I kept reminding her that we all go through our wild times.  You had to go through your own.  Now you're settling down and paying your bills and becoming quite a responsible young man. I'm very proud of you, Buddy.

Mom, what do I say to the woman that gave me my life?  Everything I am is based on the foundation that you and Daddy laid.  Intellect, inquisitiveness, drive and ambition, they all came from you and I thank you for always being that wind that allowed me to soar so very high.  But more than that was the love.  You have sometimes mentioned a wish that you were more expressive in your love but I want you to know that there was never, ever any doubt in my mind that you loved me and only wanted the best for me.  Sometimes you and I disagreed with what "the best" meant, but the older I grow (I guess it should be "grew" now) the more I understood that was the sole reason for our occasional disagreement.  I want you to know that my life turned out wonderful and I was very, very happy and a large part of the reason for that was the values you taught me and the love you've given me all my life.

James and Joey, what do I say to you, darlings?  I'm so glad this day didn't come sooner.  I was always worried when y'all were younger.  Remember how I used to tell you that mommies and daddies always come back?  I was so scared that decision would be taken out of my hands and then not only would I be gone but I would have lied to you.  I know you're both old enough know to understand that this is not my choice.  Oh, how I so wish I could see you finish growing up.  I want to meet your children!  I want to see the kind of men you become - even though I already know you'll both be wonderful men.  James, I hope you never lose sight of that firm sense of right and wrong you have.  Yes, there are shades of grey in the world and you have to recognize that they're there.  But it's a balancing act because having that strong sense of good and evil is a wonderful thing.  Joey, never lose your funny outlook on life.  You have such a wonderful wit and it so often made me smile.  That's a gift, baby, being able to make people smile.  My soldier and my hippy... I couldn't have asked for more wonderful children than the ones I was blessed with.  I sure am gonna miss y'all.

Jim.  You know.. I was hoping by the time I got to this part of the letter I'd have some clue as to what to say. But I still don't.  Maybe I should tell you why I love you but I'm not even sure that would be coherent.  I know it has to do with your intelligence and wit and how much fun you are, but it's so much more than that too.  How do I put into words how much you've meant to me?  I was so very young when we found each other so in a sense you finalized my growing up.  You've taught me so much over the years -- even about mechanical orange pickers ;-).  But the thing you've taught me the most is the value of loving someone completely and being completely loved.  Because there has never been any doubt in my mind that you love me completely.  And I hope you know how much I love you.  That will never stop.  No matter what lies on the other side, you should know that my love for you will continue, unending, throughout all of time.  And somehow, someday we will find each other again.  There's just no way this huge a love can be meant to be contained in one lifetime.

I guess it's time to go now.  I wish I had longer to write this and make more sense of these feelings, but Death is tapping his toe.  I guess he does have other appointments to keep.  So for now I'll just say farewell.  Whatever is on the other side, know that I'll be looking for you when you arrive, but don't let it be too soon.  Enjoy life and be good to each other.  I love you.

Copyright © 2011 Denise Duggan

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