How do you say goodbye?



My darling Bob,

Last week whilst I was busy living, you were busy dying. I was boating on the Gulf, sipping Prosecco and cutting into a birthday cake and you were leaving.

Separated by thousands of miles, you left your old age on the day I entered mine.  You slipped out, while I slipped in, no, burst in, “To rage against the dying light.”

We emailed until you couldn’t anymore and then the disheartening phone calls, your voice feeble and confused with pain. I choked. We both knew what was coming.  How do you say goodbye forever?  I couldn’t.  You couldn’t. Words left unsaid.

All the emails and phone calls.  You were the constant of my life, my love, my joy.  You were my Christmas, my Easter, my Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving.  We marked the seasons together.

Who will I count on now to show me the way?  Whose voice will be calm, steady, always there, saying:  Yes.  Go.  Do. Enjoy.

I guess that voice will have to be mine now.  Being that voice is a responsibility.  I don’t want to be that voice.  Do I have to be that voice? Of course, yes.

The adjustment. When someone leaves, we stare at the space until we figure out how to fill it.  When someone is born, we need to move over, make room.

You’re free now.  Why is life something we need to be freed from? You showed me a hard lesson: that up until the end one is tortured by unanswerable questions. That questions remain unanswerable your entire life.  You never  “arrive.”

I know you have the answers now.  I know you are at peace and filled with love and wonder. “The death of an old man is not a tragedy,” goes the saying.  But it is my tragedy.

A life well lived.  Carry on my brave friend.  In my heart forever.

xo Liza

P.S.  My lovelies, I’m sharing this with you not for sympathy, but so we can talk about our experiences of friends and loved ones leaving.  It never gets any easier with time.

Bob Julien (1927-2016) was the last surviving friend of my parents’ generation. We became friends after my parents passed away, writing and phoning each other several times weekly. Bob was fluent in Internet matters and lived a big, intellectually fascinating life, until he died on July 30, 2016 at age 89.  A mere month before he passed away he was teaching his popular music appreciation at Noble Horizons in Salisbury, CT, bringing joy and inspiration to so many lives.

Hello my lovelies.  Have you ever had a friendship with an older person?  It is such a gift.  I love having friends of all different ages. Do you have any rituals you follow when you experience the passing of a dear friend?  Write your words below.  They don’t even have to be coherent.  Write a poem if you like.  Do share Camp Liza with friends via the clever buttons and enter your email in the box above so you don’t miss a thing.


12 thoughts on “How do you say goodbye?

  1. What a topic. I lost my husband last October and am still working my way ahead. When you lose someone you love, it is an immediate lesson in learning to live in the moment and appreciate what you have every day. Sorry, for your loss. There are really no words.

  2. My condolences, Liza. I am awkward with words when it comes to the loss of someone dear. So in mind I just sit with you, quietly, and let you feel what you need to feel, knowing someone is there to catch you.

  3. I love everything about your piece. It brought tears. In April, I lost my friend, brother in law, mentor, teacher of all things rich and wonderful. I sat with him, held his hand while he slipped away from cancer. He was 65. My sister died nineteen years before him. Having lost both of them, there is a gaping hole that will never be filled or at least I don’t know how it can be filled…though as you say we have to figure out how to fill it. And there are so many things I want to ask him…things that were unanswerable, even at the end…as you write. There is pain and wisdom in what you have written and that hard, cold reality…there is little solace in goodbyes. But to have loved so deeply still remains the most beautiful state of all. Thank you for this…

  4. There is a mother, father, 2 girls and 2 boys in this family. I am the oldest girl and the only one left. Dad died at 46 Mom at 66. Sister died at 32 and both brothers in their 50’s. The loss of my final brother was the hardest for me because I have no one left to share all the memories of our christmas mornings as children, the funny stories about Mom & Dad, the family vacations, birthdays, graduations, weddings. All the special “only a sibling would understand” memories and stories are gone for me and even though my last sibling died four years ago it still really hurts. I will be 70 years old on my next birthday in January and all the younger ones that I thought would be here for me are gone.

    I guess I needed to get this out of my system so thank you for opening up this subject. I am sorry for your loss Liza.

    1. Oh Dee…thank you for writing your reality for all of us to share. You must live for all your loved ones. Live for them! Carry on, beautifully.

  5. The description of your loss touches my heart since I just lost someone I loved dearly. We were contemplating marriage, and then came the diagnosis. I sat with him through it all. As painful as it was to watch him slowly leave our world, I deeply felt I was playing my role in the mystery of life. I am forever stronger having been in that place with him. Most of all, I relish the gift of life with less fear and renewed appreciation for each day. I want my latter years to embrace the adventure of living with the gusto that my Peter wanted for us both.

    1. Cheryl, thank you for sharing your poignant story. You are a teacher with this amazing lesson. What a strong, compassionate woman you are.

  6. I found your site through the ’60 & Me’ community.. Love your energy, writing and spirit. This post resonated especially… As we age there seem to be so many good-byes. Love, loss, gratitude, being present. I’ll look forward to reading your next post.
    Thanks, Rhonda

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