Last Goodbye


Since I’m already married and I haven’t been accused of a crime, my dressing in a suit today can only mean that it’s time to say goodbye. I’ve grown to despise putting on pants that don’t contain the word “jeans” in them. When I pull the dark blue and black tie to my aging neck, I’ll cringe, knowing this will be the fifteenth time I’d performed this sad routine in past twenty years.

A kind, warm-hearted woman with a great laugh and an awesome old-fashioned name will be laid to rest a little after lunch. I called her Aunt Tense. One of my daughters called her “the funny lady”. Cancer is evil. It’s taken a very good person.

If a day can be described as funereal, then today is such. The sky is several shades of gray. Rain has been steady for several hours. Helping carry a casket while wearing a flower won’t be easy, but it’s the right thing to do.

Without overthinking, which is rare for me, I started listening to Jeff Buckley’s 1994 album, Grace. After my wife left for work and my teenager got on the school bus, I turned up the computer speakers and now I’m on my second play.

As a Christian, I believe Aunt Tense is in a better place. But for the love of that God I have Faith in, don’t say that to me, or my beautiful cousins who are without their beloved mother, today. Let us play Jeff Buckley, cry, and wish she was still here, in this gray skied less of a place.

Goodbye Aunt Tense.


25 thoughts on “Last Goodbye

  1. I know this was a personal post, but it struck me on a much different level than just the words on the page. And at the risk of sounding callous or superficial, which is not my intention, It’s this kind of honesty that separates good writers from great writers. I can only hope that when it is my turn to leave this Earth, there is someone who is able to express the way that they felt about me as beautifully as you have.

  2. This was beautiful, Lance. I’m with Goddess–I know it’s a personal piece, but since you put it here, maybe it’s okay to say what I liked about it? I liked the contrasting images of the flower and the carrying. I liked the anger. And I loved the sentiment. Anger is a gift. Hang on to it for another day or two, maybe.

    I’m so, so sorry for your loss. Aunt Tense sounds like a wonderful person to have known. My thoughts are with you.

  3. I’ve been to our local Relay For Life every year since it started 10 years ago, attending it in honor of the family and friends I’ve lost to cancer, as well as covering it as a writer for the newspaper. Every year I tell myself it probably won’t have the same emotional impact it’s had in me in the past because of the passage of time and a certain degree in cynicalness that has crept over me through the years. And every year, when they light the luminaries and I see the hundreds of lives affected or ended by cancer, I crumble into a teary mess. In those moments I realize that because of the love I have for them, I’m not as desensitized as I feared. Even after they’re gone, their love is still positively impacting my life. It sounds like your Aunt Tense will do the same.

  4. Lance, as a AIDS activist and as a pastor’s wife, I’ve been at many bedsides of the dying. I’m sorry for your loss, but I’m also happy in a way that we know she is “in good hands,” the everlasting presence of God. I’m attaching a poem about healing, because really, she did have a healing. The final one. It sucks for everyone left behind, but she’s out of pain, and that’s at least some small comfort, I hope. Cancer is a bitch…. Blessings, Amy

  5. A beautiful song, and a beautiful post. Sorry it took me so long to catch up on reading to see this. Having lost someone special to me to cancer, and with friends who have lost someone special, I know how much it hurts to let Aunt Tense go in such a way. Even though I’ve never met her, she was in my thoughts on the cancer walk. Every step, another step closer to a cure. I will continue to walk 60 miles in 3 days until I no longer have a reason to walk. Maybe next time we’ll walk Atlanta.

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