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How Do You Say Goodbye to Friends?
In My Opinion...
Editor
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 • Posted January 25, 2012

The last week was a tough one for many people that I know. From very young to the not so young, there were people I knew that had to say goodbye to someone they loved.Menard County, already beset by repeated tragedies over the last month, suffered yet one more when they lost a young man from the Menard schools.He had spent a summer playing baseball with the boys of Mason, and he came to know many of our own youth. That made his loss even more difficult for our own youngsters, and they joined their peers at the hospital in San Angelo to share memories of Jonathan and to find their own ways of saying goodbye to him.It is always difficult to tall a friend goodbye. When we were kids and someone would move away, it was difficult to tell them farewell. We had difficulty comprehending why they had to leave, and we didn't have enough understanding of the world to grasp just exactly where it was they were going. Yet, we could occasionally revel in the moments when they would return for a visit.As we got older, we learned about losing someone to death. Though our maturity and religious learning allowed us to have a greater comprehension of what such loss meant in the bigger picture, it was still no less painful dealing with their death.As part of our own aging, it becomes part and parcel of our beings to have to deal with losing people we love to death. I've already lost classmates, grandparents, a parent, a partner, and friends from along the journey. Each loss has its own unique effect upon our own lives. And, we grieve for each loss in our own way.Some people hold in their feelings and deal with them privately as they heal. Others grieve fully and publicly, and require the help and assistance of their friends and family to make the healing occur. Some are stoic, and seem to move beyond the loss with little trouble or pain. No matter how they deal with the death of a friend or loved one, everyone has to, sooner or later, say goodbye to that person.Last Thursday night, one of my oldest friends from Austin, Charles Gentry, suffered a grand mal seizure. He was discovered by his housekeeper on Friday afternoon, unconscious and nonresponsive. He was taken to Brackenridge Hospital and placed on life support. That is where he stayed until his family and the friend who held power of attorney for him could arrive and make the decisions that had to be made. And then, he was gone.When we lost Lilly, we were able to be with her and to tell her that we loved her. When I lost my mother and John, I was able to have conversations with them and to tell them how I felt, and to receive their own words of encouragement in return.But, when you lose someone suddenly, as occurred with Charles, there is a multiplied sense of loss. You think back to the last conversation, the last email, the last text. You replay over and over in your mind what was said and what was done, and pray that you remember the good times. For many of my friends who were in Austin, a goodbye occurred as they went to his room at the hospital and said their farewells. By the time I learned of the situation, he was already gone.Being a writer, I have the opportunity and the ability to still say goodbye. I've already went to his Facebook tribute page and made one small comment; but, for my own healing and to honor him, I felt that I should say in words how important he was to me.I knew Charles for many years. I met him just as his marriage was ending and he was starting over. We discovered that my origins in Katemcy and his beginnings in Rockmart, Georgia, made us alike in many ways. We both had small-town attitudes; but, enjoyed the lives we built for ourselves in the city. We could be just as happy floating down a river in an inner tube as we could be at the opera, and we both enjoyed our friends as a major part of our lives.And now, I won't have another opportunity to see your smile, to hear your laugh, or to enjoy one of your great hugs. But, I have my memories of a great friend and a great person to carry with me for the rest of my life.So, goodbye, Charles. Heaven will be a brighter place with you there.

It’s all just my opinion.

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