Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dear Barry,

Dear Barry,

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.



  1. What a tear jerker, Mark. You have me crying because this is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read and it touches my heart so deeply, as I am sure it will touch Barry. What a wonderful sentiment and gift to give to your friend whom you've never met.

    This is so wonderful.

  2. Dammit, there goes a perfectly good mascara day.

  3. Courage has many forms. I have been avoiding saying the wrong thing so not saying anything at all. This took courage of the best kind. I salute you. and am passing a hug - not sufficient but ....

  4. This did indeed take courage and it is beautifully written and wonderful of you to say/write it before it's too late. We all need to remember that even without a fatal illness, life can be taken so quickly and sometimes without warning. If we could just make the most of every day/minute we have friends/family whether we have ever met them in person or not, it would make losing them a little easier. Easier just knowing that we had always let them know of our love, caring and appreciation.

    A very moving and beautiful post, Mark. Thank you for the example and the reminder.


  5. First I cried all the way through Barry's entry, and now I've cried all the way through your post. You older guys with the big brains and big hearts, and gifts for words are really good at tugging my heart strings.

  6. This is my first visit to your blog. Thank you for sharing that. It was very moving. I will be back.

  7. Mark, as soon as I started reading your post, I knew to whom you were referring. Everyone loves Barry. I have been very concerned about him, but I have not wanted to intrude and ask him how he is doing.

    The people in the blogging world really do care about each other, don't they? I don't have as much time as I would like to visit all my bloggy friends -- certainly not on a daily basis. But all of the folks in the blogosphere are a real community.

    Your post here is wonderful, and my mascara is running all over my face.

  8. A truly loving post from a gentle man.

    I have to say my body constricted a bit with the 'goodbye' piece. It seems a bit premature somehow . . . And although I know it was said with love and the best of intentions, I can't help but wonder if the goodbye is for you or for him?

    Touched me deeply to read your 'I love you, Barry' - many of the men I know do not have the courage, yet, to confess their deepest feelings so publicly.

  9. "You have to read Mark's post today," Linda told me.

    "Sure. I always read Mark's blog."

    "No, you HAVE to today. Its all about you."


    "Well actually, maybe you shouldn't go, it's very moving."

    After that, of course, I couldn't not come here to visit.

    And be moved.

    Saying goodbye is just about the hardest thing, the only thing harder is realizing you never took the opportunity to say goodbye when you had the chance.

    So, thank you Mark. And goodbye, even though I intend to stick around to watch you flirt with all the women for many years to come.

    Love you guy.

  10. Mark, I am an old tough lady. I don't cry easily. Maybe that is my protection. A coping mechanism, which I know you understand. I cried at this post. The skill and sincerely that went into this post had the power to move my coping mechanism aside and allow me to feel the grief that I feel while reading Barry's posts. You said the words for many of us. Now does that show the power of your skills or not, over all these wires of cyberspace. You moved me to speak my truth. The tears came when you said you hugged Karen just a little longer this AM. Amazing. Sincerely

  11. Wow. This was a good reminder to not leave words unsaid, and to not take friends for granted. We all know that quite possibly Barry could outlive every last one of us; I'm just grateful we're all here at the same time. Thanks.

  12. oh you are beautiful.
    i love Barry too, very much, the same way you fell for him.
    you made me tear up with joy, then made sure i was alright at the end by making me laugh... with joy also.
    Honestly Mark, if more people lived with this attitude then the world could have the potential to be such a different place.
    Wonderful :)
    oh .... and just in case, I love you.
    p.s see you tomorrow too.

  13. I went to Barry's blog, but did not make any comment there, as I have never visited him before and am unknown to him... I also read Barry's comments here.
    This is real blogging community at its best!

  14. Thanks for posting what many of us wanted to put into words, but were unable. I think about him every single day. I send him my best energies, but it is nice of you to write this.

  15. Mark,
    I am not ready to venture out of my "denial" place right now. Barry is still very healthy "outside". Still, say what needs to be said while you have the opportunity. Your post is really heart felt and Barry was really touched. I had to wait until Barry responded before I did. Do you have any idea how much we have been relying on your cancer experience to help us through? Thank you so very much.
    I wouldn't even know where to begin to say thank you for keeping us laughing all the way through this horrid place were in. Wait, what if I go before I figure out the word verification? Paddles....
    Barry exploded with joy when he read that bit at the end. That is so rare to hear from him these days. Please, keep being our how to live with cancer guide, Mark. You get the Oscar!!!!!! Love you so much.xoxo

  16. Mark, I think you spoke for many of us. I think you expressed what many of us feel but don't have the words to convey. Thank you.

  17. That's perfect, Mark. All the things I want to say too! Thank you.

  18. That was a really sweet letter, a moving example of how real friendships can be formed within this internet universe. Thanks for sharing, C

  19. Beautiful post, but I do not intend on saying goodbye to my friend. I really think about Barry everyday and wonder how he is doing.

    But I am a stubborn old lady - flower child of the sixties - and I say Barry is going to be around for a long time. So be it.

    We have all met so many friends on Blogger. Barry is one of those people I feel like I have known all my life - or perhaps wish I had known all my life. I don't intend to give him or Linda or Lindsay up any time soon. Just because I don't have time like I used to to sit and post does mean I don't love everyone of you. Besides, I have never been known for my social skills. I am faithful like a dog, though. If someone needs me, I am there. And friends know I may forget their birthdays and anniversaries but I love them like I love all of you. Really.

    Oh, now I am rambling. See what your post did to me, Mark?

    PS: Dorothea thinks about Bagman everyday and feels jilted.

  20. Mark, this is truly touching, and honestly beautiful.

    Barry is amazing, isn't it amazing - how blogs have changed our lives?

  21. Mark, your letter was very appropriate and heartfelt. It had to have meant much to Barry. It is good to visit. I feel at home. Thanks for the tribute to Barry.

  22. Hi Mark, tonight I was wandering around blogland, visiting Linda & Lindsay, making another trip to Barry's blog. Somehow I landed here and I'm sorry to say I haven't visited you in quite a while, don't know why, guess life just got in the way.
    Anyway, I just want to express my approval for your "goodbye" letter to Barry. It is perfect and I know he thought it was perfect as well. Lovely sentiment you express... and I loved reading Barry's & Linda's response to your open letter.