Good-bye to All That


I think it is safe to say we all have times in our lives that feel more like endings than beginnings. Generally these tend to be times when change is forced upon us rather than sought out. The passing of our parents, for example, can feel like the end of childhood with the loss of those who knew us and loved us most intimately as children. I have been spinning through one of those periods for the last couple of months.

I got a call a while back from my friend, Chrys, who had bad news to share. He had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. His prospects were grim. And indeed, last week I got a call from his son to let me know that he had passed away on September 17th.

We met when we were both students at California State University, Fresno. I was 28 and he was 34, thirty-four long years ago. There were times when we drifted apart but we always managed to stay in touch despite the fact that he ended up in Iowa and I eventually landed here in Florida. I’ll have more to say about Chrys and our friendship in a later post. For now though, let me simply say that his loss has signified another one of those endings for me.

That period of time in California when we first became friends was significant to me for many reasons. My husband and I had recently divorced. I was living on my own for the first time, studying literature, yearning to write and trying rather desperately to figure out who I was. Chrys was the only person from that time in my life that I had kept in contact with. His loss, in many ways, closes the door on that part of my life. Oh, I’ll certainly still have memories of Fresno and of our friendship there. But memories become somehow less resonant and less trustworthy when we no longer have anyone to share them with. The young woman I was then now lives only in my own head and she has been changed (in some ways corrupted) by the selves I have evolved into through the years. When Chrys and I reminisced, we were able to see our younger selves with more clarity. Now the time has come to say good-bye to all that.

This is partly a way of talking about why I have been unable to write much recently. It has taken some time to let go of the ending and to look once more for a beginning. As I thought about writing this post, I was reminded of Robert Graves’ memoir, “Good-bye to All That”, as well as Joan Didion’s essay with the same title. Both were saying good-bye to certain periods in their lives and certain versions of themselves. Both managed to find new beginnings and to embrace great creativity. I hope that I can find at least a bit of that going forward.

8 thoughts on “Good-bye to All That

  1. Very sad news my dear friend … really sometimes life is not easy,I’ve been through all this as you … sometimes it is best to try to move on and not remember much, I can no longer look to the past … always hurts! I prefer pretend I forgot !

    Sometimes are moments that my us think about ourselves and what we have lost in our path but is important also to discover what we want t to do for future and concentrate on that goal, is not easy but helps a little ! Take care of you my dear Karen ! Love you my friend ! : )

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ms Karen … It seems that as we gain years … so much gathers momentum coming at us. From friends, parents, spouses and so forth we are challenged not to just sit down and let it all flood over us but to gather up our strength and take the next step. Personally, I am dismayed at everything and everybody dying all around me … You’re such a strong lady you’ll be back up to speed in no time. I look forward to your wonderful posts and magnificent photographs. An e-hug and prayer for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your story reminds me of these lyrics by The Byrds…

    “To everything (turn, turn, turn)
    There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
    And a time to every purpose, under heaven
    A time to be born, a time to die
    A time to plant, a time to reap
    A time to kill, a time to heal
    A time to laugh, a time to weep”


    by Seals and Crofts

    “Life, so they say, is but a game and we let it slip away.
    Love, like the Autumn sun, should be dyin’ but it’s only just begun.
    Like the twilight in the road up ahead, they don’t see just where we’re goin’.
    And all the secrets in the Universe, whisper in our ears
    And all the years will come and go, take us up, always up.
    We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again.
    We may never pass this way again.”

    Life is finite. At least this level of life is finite.

    I feel for your loss Karen.


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