WILLIAM A SLOAN
Blog 393. Parting Gifts
We never say,”Goodbye.” Instead we say, “Big Hugs til next time.”
This year the Muse will become the age his mother was when she took flight. This year I became the age my dad was when he left this world. It gives one pause.
Some would say we are now in that age group when many in our circle take their leave, and while that may be true, we, along with most of our friends, lived through the drug era, the Vietnam era, the AIDs epidemic, and a pandemic, so we’ve both lived with unexpected passings our entire lives. It’s never something you get used to (I hope) and it’s never something you become hardened to. In fact, quite the opposite. But you develop skills for coping and perhaps these are skills that can be shared.
Not long ago, the Muse’s lifelong friend, we’ll call him Apple, took his final bow. He was a wonderful man, a remarkable man, an accomplished man, and hands down, the most generous person I’ve ever met. He was an enormous, brilliant, inviting presence and his family of friends knew no bounds. When he left there was a void, a palpable void and because of how we live now, with distance as a constant, it was easy to believe it wasn’t actually true. He hadn’t passed away at all, he was probably in Prague with bad Internet service, so you could always catch up with him later.
But there is no later. There’s only now. And that’s why we’re so embarrassingly passionate about living each day fully and completely and never leaving good thoughts left unsaid. We don’t edit. Ever. And we hug a lot. Get used to it.
When, after the news of Apple’s latest voyage was made known, we found out that he had designated the Muse as executor of his estate, the guardian of his last will and testament. And as anyone who has performed these duties knows, it’s an honor and an enormous responsibility and, in fact, a parting gift that says,”I trust you and always have, I respect you morally and ethically and always have, and I am asking you to protect my legacy as I am no longer available to do so.”
So, this has been a fondly bittersweet time in our home, filled with thoughtful moments and unexpected memories and wonderful laughs and personal sorrows. But I always come back to what I personally believe and intuitively know and that is this – that no one ever really dies. An ugly word that.
They move on, they’re unreachable, they’re in Prague with bad Internet, but their presence, their influence, their goodness are always right there in the air you breathe and as a shimmering form in the distance.
God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.