The Way We Said Good-Bye

by | May 27, 2001 | Death, Grief

I hadn’t seen her for almost a decade. Time had been good to her, but life wasn’t her best friend.

“I’ve had some health problems, Bob. But I have learned to deal with them,” she said.

“I’m told that we’re at that age when little things start creeping up on us. It’s pay back time for the way we lived when we were younger,” I told her.

She smiled in agreement as she talked about all her aches and pains.

“I faced the biggest challenge when they discovered I had cancer,” she said. “I survived only to lose my husband two years later.”

“I’m so sorry. Did I know him?” I asked.

“No, but I wish you did. You would have liked him, Bob,” she said.

“Tell me about him,” I said.

Whenever some tells me about the recent loss of a loved one I always ask them to talk about them. Their face lights up. Their body language changes. They smile as they page back through their memory recalling all those special things they loved.

She talked about his hobbies, the way he made her laugh and how very much she missed him.

But then she said something that really touched me.

“I loved the way we said goodbye,” she said.

It nearly took my breath away. I hate goodbyes.

“You were with him in the final moments of his life?” I asked.

“Oh, yes, but I’m not just talking about that. It was the way we said goodbye everyday,” she said with her voice weakened by grief.

Then, after a moment of collecting her thoughts she said, “We left for work together everyday. Although we were in separate cars, we stayed within sight of each other until he had to turn onto the highway.”

I never interrupted her choosing instead to let the story unfold as she remembered it.

“At the very last moment, with just a few feet between us, he would turn his head toward me and using sign language, would hold up his hand, sign “I love You!” And smile.

I struggled to watch him as his car turned onto the ramp,” she said.

Her head shot skyward as she fought back the tears, and sighing, she continued.

“I loved that moment so much that I found it difficult to face days when our schedules wouldn’t permit our moment on the road.”

We sat quietly.

“So, you had your last goodbye together?” I asked.

“Yes. At the very last moment…he signed “I love you!”

“You know, it was at that moment that he turned off the road, too. The road of life. One day when it’s your turn, he’ll be waiting for you there on the side of the road for the rest of the journey. Then there will be no more goodbyes.”

Until then, she’ll get through remembering…”The way we said goodbye.”

Bob Perks


The Way We Said Good-Bye