Today is Veteran's Day. In South Carolina, county offices have the day off but schools do not. So I kissed my wife goodbye and came up to spend some rare relaxed time on Blogger.
Yesterday was different. I was rushed. I only had time to look five or six posts. Yours, of course, was one of them...the first one I always check. And you had written about putting your affairs in order. I stopped there and never looked at anything else. I wanted to leave a comment, but couldn't. Then I was going to email you. But couldn't. Last night, trying to sleep, I thought about you and Linda and Lindsey. This morning I turned on the computer, went to Blogspot, and just stared at the screen.
Finally, I decided that I had to write something. And I hope that an open letter to you is not too embarassing but, I think, probably not. One of the things I admire and honor in you is your amazing ability to journal so openly about your cancer. Your ability to both fight a strong fight while simultaneously accepting and preparing for losing it. And for finding joy in life, along the way, and sharing those moments with us as well.
I'm struggling this morning to tell you what I feel without sounding stupid or maudlin or just plain weird. One of the things I want to say is, "I love you." And Linda and Lindsey. It's a bit odd because when Bagman, Butler, and I first started blogging last year, Bagman was really enjoying flirting with the women. In fact, he was kind of shocked when he discovered that some old guy from Scarborough was following us. But over the months, I have grown to feel very close to you. In fact, last month, I even mentioned to Karen, "Why don't we drop everything and take a month and drive up to Canada." But with a new grandson and another on the way, we have affairs of our own to keep in order.
The other thing I want to say to you is really problemmatic. Because the timing is wrong. But, then again, it will never be right. I want to say, "Goodbye."
I hope that you, or anyone else who reads this, doesn't interpret that as negative or fatalistic or depressing. It's a kind of putting affairs in order for me. Over the years, I have lost many friends and family. Three years ago when my mother-in-law passed, it was sobering to realize that I was now at the head of the queue. A few I was blessed to be able to be with. Too often, however, it was unexpected and I was left with things I wish I had said. Like "I love you" and "Fare well."
So I hope it is not terrible form to say goodbye to you this morning, even though I fully expect to continue reading your adeventures for at least the two years the doctors have given you on the high side. And none of us ever really know. Today might even be my time. I assume not. God! Wouldn't it be aweful I dropped dead at the end of this sentence and you never got to read it! I can imagine the scene:
First Paramedic: "He's trying to say something."
Mark: "Push the Publish Post button."
Second Paramedic: "He must be delerious."
First Paramedic: "Clear!"
Anyhow, when I kissed Karen this morning as she was heading off to work, I held her a little longer than usual. Because of you, my friend.
I will never forget you. Whenever it does come my time to leave the front of the line and get on the ride, I know I will be thinking of you and what you have taught me. Courage, sympathy for others, awareness, dignity, humor.
Of course, what I really need to learn is to shut up and write shorter blogs.
I love you, Barry. Goodbye.
PS: See you tomorrow.