I recently heard a country song called “To Say Goodbye.” It talks about a woman whose husband left before dawn on a plane that went down on 9/11, and an old man in a nursing home whose wife slipped away into dementia. The song laments that neither of them got to say goodbye. As I listened, it, of course, made me think of how Bill died in his sleep on the night of my birthday, with both of us assuming that we would have another day, though we knew we would not have many.
“Goodbye” is one of a million things I’ve wanted to say to Bill over the past seven months. We tried to get the microwave repaired last week, and I couldn’t remember where we had bought it or when. He would have known, and known right where the receipt was filed and if it was still under warranty. I have a stack of papers on the dining room table that I suppose I need to take to the accountant, but I’ve already warned him that we likely are going to need to file an extension because I haven’t done my taxes 35 years and I haven’t got a clue what he needs or where it is.
I’d like to ask Bill what he thinks about selling this house, which now is too big. I’d like to talk to him about the new book I’m writing, and who I should ask to be our membership coordinator at church, which is about the 15th person I’ve had to recruit to replace him. What about our retirement fund? Do I need to move it to something more conservative before the president blows things up?
There are a million things I want to say to Bill every day, but I think “goodbye” may be the only thing important that was left unsaid. We were good about that. We treated one another with the greatest tenderness from, almost, day one, and not a single day passed when we didn’t find dozens of ways to say and show our love to one another. If I have any advice from the past seven month it is this: If you leave anything unsaid to those you love, let it be “goodbye” and never “I love you.”
Rev. Michael Piazza