So Hard to Say Goodbye

Original painting of softball glove -
Oil painting of Larry’s old softball glove

Larry died at 9:02 last night, April 2, 2019.   He was finally ready, but it was so hard to let him go, so hard to say goodbye.

His pain is gone, but the pain of loss is in every cell of my body.

Yesterday, he was with us and responding at 3 pm, surprising us all by saying goodbye to the CNA.  He nodded his head when I asked if he loved Cody, again when I  asked if he loved me, then nodding again when I asked if he thought I was beautiful.  Hey, why not go for it?

My daughter and her husband sent beautiful messages of love and admiration which I read aloud to him.  He was able to nod when I asked if he had heard them.  My son called and told Larry he loved him on speaker phone.   Cody read him Bible verses.  I read from a book he used to read to me at night – a list of 10,000 things to love in the world, like morning dew, and ball games,  and fireflies.

At five o’clock things started to change.  Instead of days, we knew we had hours.  We cancelled with dear friends who were coming to cook us dinner.

His son Cody and I sat at his side, holding his hands, crying and making jokes. We continually were in awe that Cody, who lives a busy life on Cape Cod, was with us for this moment, for this final transition.

This is my third death bedside watch, Cody’s first.  And the most intimate and irreverent.  He would have loved it.  I hope he did love it.

By 7, after canceling friends who were coming to cook us dinner, we were guilty to admit to each other we were hungry.  I didn’t want to leave him for more than a minute so I ran to the kitchen, grabbed a few beers, and some cheese, and fruit, and chips and guacamole.  We had a “deathbed picnic,” toasting him lying on the bed and passed the guac back and forth over him.  He would have loved it!

By 8 we thought he’d left us but after a long silence – his head relaxed against the pillow and his breathing stopped.  We started to cry with our foreheads against his.  All we heard was our tears.

Then…  he drew in a loud breath, scaring the heck out of both of us and started breathing regularly again.  Really, Larry?  Just like when he’d hide around a corner and jump out at me.

He did that repeatedly until finally Cody said, “I wonder if maybe they just don’t have his room ready so they keep sending him back.”  We got a good laugh out of that.

Cody sang a song to him called “Nobody Knows.”  The first line is ‘nobody knows how to say goodbye.’  Oh, &^^%%!

We felt all the love coming from all over the country, like those airport flight tracking maps with all the red lines of love joining in Osprey Florida.  And yet it was perfect that it was just the three of us in the room, no healthcare workers, no strangers.

Finally, at 9:02 he was quiet.

I didn’t know how hard it would be to say goodbye.  We had told him we loved him so many times over these last days.  We’d told him the wishes of love that so many others had sent.  What more was there to say?

October 5, 2018
October 5, 2018

Larry, you showed us how to live.  You showed us how to laugh. You showed us how to live and laugh while dying.  You were always you.  As Sam said  “you were just a good person all the way through.”  You were an incredible partner, an incredible parent, “which will forever be a gold standard for me,” said Krista.

You fed us great food, you made us happy.

You loved well.  You were loved.  You will always be in our hearts.

That’s why it’s just so damn hard to say goodbye.


24 thoughts on “So Hard to Say Goodbye”

  1. This is so so beautiful…and so sad. Your writing is incredible. I can’t believe how much love and loss that you and your family have had this past year. And though I didn’t get a chance to spend a lot of time with Larry, he made a really big impression on me as an amazing dad when I spent a holiday on the Cape with your family during college. What a great man!

  2. How beautiful for the 3 to share and witness such an intimate final moment. The divine works in amazing ways. Bob & I send our regrets & best to you Nancy, Cody and rest of family. Larry was a strong,charming man with a great sense of humor and a determination to strive for the stars. I am honored to have meant him!

  3. Oh Nancy, I’m so sorry to hear of Larry’s passing….I’m sending you lots of love, light, and hugs.

  4. Amazing, Nancy, how eloquent you are even in this time of such loss. So happy you had him! Now you can always look back on your love and be happy. I have found such solace in recognizing how lucky I am to have had him instead of complaining I didn’t get more. So many never had what we had. God Bless you!

  5. Like losing Jack for me this must be incredibly hard for you. Life can be be so unfair but it makes you realize that none of us truly knows how long we have on this beautiful earth and that we really should appreciate each and every day. You certainly showed us that. Love to you Nancy and your beautiful family.😘

  6. So beautifully written and no less expected from you.. I am so sorry at your loss and know intimately the sorrow of a good bye happening too soon.

    Sending all my love to you and your family.

  7. Oh, Nancy! So beautiful and so sad. I too have tears running down my face reading this. What a wonderful man! You were so lucky to have him as your partner for all these years. Love to you all.

  8. Nancy and family, our most heartfelt wishes to you all. Larry was truly a wonderful man and he will be deeply missed. Sending love to you all♥️
    Joan and Ralph

  9. My dear, there are no words that I can say or write to express our sense of heart ache for your loss. Know this…you are truly & completely loved & we are here for whatever, whenever, however.

  10. I’m so sorry for the loss of your wonderful Larry. His last days, and weeks, and years, were beautiful and peaceful because of you.

  11. I’m so sorry Nancy. Thank you for sharing this with us all. You two were true to each other through the end and that is beautiful. And while no one escapes death, many people don’t experience this kind of love and devotion.

  12. Oh Nancy,

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss.

    Your recount of the last little while with Larry were beautiful.


    Sharon Lewis

  13. Nancy, I’m so sorry for the loss of your beautiful husband and the immense challenge you and Larry faced together. Ever in love, always in love. My heart is with you.

  14. Nancy, I’m so sorry for all you and those closest to Larry are going through. Larry was a wonderful guy, even though I never had the pleasure of witnessing the legendary Thanksgiving “double turkey” presentation. That is both awesome and hilarious. Which sounds like Larry.

    All our love,

    The Bruces

  15. Nancy,
    You have so eloquently and touchingly described your final hours with him.
    When I think of him, it will always be of his endearing grin and the twinkle in his eyes.
    He will be lovingly remembered and missed.

  16. Dear Nancy,

    Twenty years ago, Howard and I moved to King’s Way in Yarmouth Port. There’s where we found you. We became friends. Then you moved on, and I missed you and have done so through the years. We now live at Thirwood Place in South Yarmouth. I am 88 years old and Howard is about to turn 90. He and I are facing the fact that our age and health problems are telling us that our time together is predictably short. We are, in many ways, saying “Goodby. I love you with all my heart.” I have just read your entry in which you describe your husband’s last hours and the immense sense of loss you and your family feel. I am bracing myself for our own parting. I talk to myself all the time, insisting that I understand my role, my job, at this time: This is now not about you, Arlene. It is all about making our late years full of laughter and comfort and expressions of love. I understand your words and am taking important lessons from them. I send you my heartfelt condolences and wish you peace. ❤️. Arlene Pollack

  17. Nancy,
    I was so taken by the wonderful goodbye you wrote about Larry.
    And I was so sad not to be seeing him with you again.
    You were a remarkable caregiver, and will never have regrets that you never did enough.
    You are an inspiration to us all.
    Please know that our prayers are with you and that we look forward to seeing you again when you are ready.
    with love,
    Diane and Dick

  18. Your writing brought me to tears. Tears for you and my old classmate Larry, but also tears for the love that radiates from your words. How lucky Larry was to have you as his wife. You have shared such pain and intimacy with others. Possibly a book with pictures should be considered. Something to share with other families experiencing a need for hospice and how to let go. Thank you for sharing this.

    Beverly WHS class of 1965

  19. Thank you Beverly for reaching out and for your comments. I was so lucky to have had Larry in my life for as long as I did. It’s incredibly hard to believe he’s gone, even now after a month.

  20. Oh,, Arlene, I do of course remember you both!!! You are lucky to still have each other but I so understand bracing yourself. I do that on a daily basis against the severe waves of grief that overtake me. Thank you for reaching out and for your understanding words. My best to you both!

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