Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Saying goodbye

How do you say goodbye to someone before they go into a casket?

That was the question posed from the back of the van.

I told them about Frank and his call from the hospice. It was a Monday evening when they were four and a half years old and the baby had turned one year old. We had all just walked in the door. I was still in my suit when the phone rang. No one had been fed. I broke the family rule of turning on the TV before dinner to keep the kids quiet.

We talked a little about our shared memories. We met in Florence during my junior year abroad. He and his wife were American ex-pats and would take me in when I wanted to get away from the other students. Whenever we went out for a cappuccino he would always pay with a loud "Let your father's tax dollars pay for this!" He was retired from the Foreign Service and told wonderful stories about bringing his piano to Afghanistan, speaking fluent Hindi in India or getting drunk with Soviet operatives.

That night, with the kids watching television, I asked him how he felt. It was hard for him to speak. The cancer was eating away at his brain.

Frank was in his 70's so some may say he lived a long life. But he still composed symphonies and recorded them in Prague. He was working on several compositions. He had to cancel a trip to Europe because he was too weak.

He said "I'll see you this summer when I visit" I knew this wouldn't be true. That this was good-bye.

"That's right. I'll see you. Bye."

I hung up and burst into tears. He died that Wednesday morning, 36 hours later.

I told the boys this story. Crying while driving.

It's hard to say good bye to someone before they go into a casket. Very very hard.


chelle said...

ugh never ever easy to say good bye ... sorry for your loss.

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

you need to read my Oma post. It was verymuch like that . Ill send it. Hugs.