Friday, March 18, 2011

On Not Saying Goodbye

It could all be gone in a heartbeat.

From the moment you step out from the curb, to the moment your child walks out the door, everything you love could disappear. I could write right now that I could die the moment I leave work today and then it could actually happen. These could be the last words you see from me. This could be my goodbye.

(Goodbye! You've all been lovely!)

Every fight you have with your spouse could be your last.

Every well wish a sayonara.

Only we wouldn't know it. Everything is so damned fragile. You never know when the tree branch could snap and take out everything below. You never know which combination of words might be the very phrase to end your relationship.

Have you ever lost a friend? Did you know it was the last conversation when you had it?

Did you lose a lover or a spouse? Which fight (one of many) was the one that tolled the death knoll for the relationship? Did either of you realize it? Chances are one of you didn't.

Did you ever lose a loved one? Did someone ever die? One day they're in remission and the next day they'll die in a hospital of unrelated complications.

None of it's right.

None of it makes sense.

It all reminds me that it's all so ... breakable.

It's foolish to think anything is permanent, that anything will last. Human beings and human bodies are collapsible things. Psyches change even though we promise they won't. Even careful drivers blow a red light.

Even healthy babies dies of SIDS. Hence the "Sudden."

And yes, even normal people descend into the winding staircase that is mental illness. Some never come back up to the parlor to sit and have tea with guests.

These are the things that could keep me up at night if I let them. These are the things that give me pause. These are the things I quickly rush over. These are the things we ignore to survive.

But every once in a while I glimpse the black gaping maw of forever and I remember that I'm not in it. You're not in it. Everything will be sucked up into that black hole of time and cease to exist. It's just a question of when.

That's when I take no comfort in reincarnation, an afterlife, or being buried in a deep green grave. I don't want any of that.

What I want is Repeat.

Play again.

Ad nauseam.

I want to live this life over and over again until I'm sick of it and everyone in it. I want to repeat the bad, the mistakes, the misery and, of course, the joy. I want to see my son when he was first born, to stare into those eyes that were as deep and unknowable as the ocean. I want to hear my step-father cackle again and give me a crossword puzzle clue. I want to lay on my driveway with my friends, a ring of Big Wheels and Green Machines all around us. I want to go to college for the first time and to walk along the river. I want to land in Paris at seventeen. I want to cry into my pillow for the boy who stopped calling. I want to hear my little girl's baby-laugh. I want to meet her dad on I want to read his letters. I want to know that our last fight was not our last.

I want to do it all over and over again and know for certain that I'll see each and every one of you once more.

That way we'd never have to say goodbye.

(I wrote this about seven months ago and thought it wasn't good enough to post. Now it doesn't look half-bad so here goes...)


  1. Dude, what other heartfelt gems that say it all so well do you have stashed away in the vault. And to top it off, accompanied by a photo with a midget!

    I fear death because I love my life and everyone in it so much. So I push all those thoughts far far away. I know its not good, but that is what works for me.

  2. You know I needed to add some levity. Thus the image of Fantasy Island.

    I have a lot of unpublished emotional crap, er, I mean, many posts.

    I just started a new blog, "Buddha Mama Sans Drama." Maybe I'll start posting my serious stuff there and my lighter stuff here.

    That way I won't inconvenience the folks that are just here for a nice laugh.

  3. Talk about reincarnation. The old MySpace name... *cold shiver*

  4. Well if I'm going to write about Buddhism what other name would I use?


  5. I loved this, Mandy. Beautifully written. And the timing is perfect. Thanks.

  6. Well-worth hitting 'publish' on this. Probably on many others. I feel like I know you a little bit better right now. Thank you.

  7. Sere: Thanks for reading. And I'm glad the timing was perfect. Maybe seven months was the time it needed to "age."


    La Fourchette: Thank you for saying so. Blogging is such a delicate balance between trying to write with an open heart, and trying to protect that heart just a little.

  8. When my dad died suddenly a couple months ago, I racked my brain to remember if, in our last conversation I told him that I loved him. I think I did. Maybe.

    We had a shaky relationship and I spent most of my life mad at him. But I sure would relive a whole lot of that bad just to have a dad again.

  9. This was beautiful. I toyed around the edges of this theme in my most recent post, and I've been laboring over another that just won't quite say what I mean. Maybe I'll put it away for a while; that worked spectacularly for you!

  10. This was beautiful. I am having similar mortality issues, and this did express my feelings on the matter very well. Although, there are a few points in my life I don't know if I could survive having to go through again. *shudder*

  11. I was just thinking very similar thoughts this morning: about the finiteness of this life.

    What would it be like to do it all again? If I could, would I get the benefit of knowing more, because I'm having a do-over?

    But that would kill the poignancy of so much of it, wouldn't it?

    I'm glad this life is not all there is: this I believe.

  12. The whole "we'll all be gone someday" scares the bejeezus out of me. So I prefer to eat Girl Scout cookies until I pass out instead.

  13. I thought it was just beautiful.

  14. Meditations like this used to frighten me. ("Used to"? Pshaw.) I use them to remind me to breathe even deeper and love with less bias than yesterday. Sometimes it works, sometimes I lay in bed sniffling at the dark.

    I'm very glad you posted this. :)

  15. So back when you wrote this you thought it wasn't worthy. As I was reading this I kept seeing images of Japan. Proof that every word you wrote is true. You never know what's going to happen in the next second.

    I lost one dear-dear friend as you described it: a branch that suddenly cracks. And oddly enough I remember the last time I saw him, he came to visit late one night when I was already in bed, my BF yelling up at me to come down, and me yelling down "Hi! I'll come by tomorrow for a cup of coffee!" But the branch and all that is sudden happened before the cup of coffee.

    Life is like that!

    And it's what makes it so wonderful! The unexpected, the unknown, the suspense... Great post!

  16. That was truly lovely, Mandy. Don't question yourself again.



  17. You should really stop doubting your writing skillz. :) I'm always ready for your next blog. And I wouldn't mind seeing an archive of your blogs from the MySpace days. I enjoyed those so much when I found you that I went back to the beginning and read them all (because I'm a scary stalker). [Not really - I'm just a little one. LOL]

    Where is your new Buddha Mama blog? Is it on BlogSpot, too?

  18. my sister asked for one of your old blogs the other day. the one about breaking up that was so eloquent. we need it for a friend that got dumped two days after the fella took his bar.

    be sure to send me your link to the new blog - you know i'm down with that.

  19. Regarding the idea to have a "serious" blog and a "light" blog, it is the combination of both that is attractive.

    It's like radio stations that attempt to appeal to this teeny, tiny demographic ("All 90's west coast hip-hop all the time!") when there's a huge world of music out there.

    Sorry for the hoary old cliche, but variety IS the spice of life.

  20. So fragile, so beautiful, and so profound. My, you are a talent, Miss.

    As for compartmentalizing your writings for the reader, I personally say it's all the shades and depths of you that make you so gifted and rare. If you start another blog elsewhere that's fine, too, but now I will have to go and find it.

    In summation, I like the whole you very much. Even when somber and thoughtful.

    Even and especially on repeat.

  21. This was great. Very wise and probably, mostly lived. I resonated with all of it. Of course most of my posts are a pity party but it is a way to cope and a way to release.

    I have always been told we have the answers within. But I believe we get beautiful signs along the way the remind us to be still. Be still to listen, love, appreciate, hold on and let go.

    Thanks for the sign.

    BMSD- share your link. That is were I met you many years ago as well as that goofy reader wow.

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  23. I guess I've been lucky so far that no one has died on me after a regrettable exchange.

    But no sense in tempting fate.

    This is a better post than you think. (or at least "thought.")

  24. This is beautiful. I'm glad you posted it!

  25. And sometimes we get a little reminder of how fragile we are when we are not even doing anything at all. I was extremely tired a couple nights ago. I was not drunk or anything ,just needed to sleep. So I just laid down on my bed with the laundry and other junk I was too lazy to move ,went into deep rem and next thing I was dreaming I was falling(Cause I Was!) and the floor woke me up. after rolling off my bed hitting the floor and some other crap on the floor dug every thing into the bone shin ,.my toes were bashed so hard and hurt so much I thought something was broken, and my head smacked into the edge of the night table I think? . I was (excuse my (English) fucking fucked up, like some guy laying on the ground after Nazi storm troopers beat him up. A 3 foot fall does not sound like much ,but while totally asleep ,I think you can grasp the dynamics. It was also the weird angle I had hit(face down) helped.
    ) Anyhow, I felt very mortal and fragile. I thought I was pretty strong but out of nowhere I am reduced to a groaning injured man on the floor in my own bedroom. I am fine, nothing broken as far I can feel.. We are very fragile indeed Mandy. Good Post

  26. Also I have lost people I loved . My brother is my best friend . He is only 13 months older. So he has had a tough time with his health and its been a lifetime of ups and downs for him. I can not imagine him gone but I also think how he would feel if something terrible happened to me. I guess we are all alike in this way. )

  27. Thank you Mandy - so well said, I'm glad that you shared this with everyone. You're a wonderfully insightful writer.

  28. Sounds like you where in a pretty bleak place 7 months ago, hope everything is looking a lot brighter for you now.
    Before I had children, I was fascinated by death & the afterlife. Now I still am, but not how it relates to me, or my loved ones. The thought is too terrifying.

  29. @Elizabeth: Wow. Your comment moves me. I'm so sorry to hear about your dad and thank you for the reminder to call my parents. I think as a parent it is our job to know that our kids love us, even if they're mad at us, so I bet your dad knew.

    @Blissed Out Grandma: I find a lot of my writing needs to marinate. Or at least I need to get some distance from it so I can see it more clearly.

    @Amelia: Yeah, I wouldn't want to go through adolescence again necessarily. Or some unusually difficult break ups, but it's better than the alternative, I think. Which is nonexistence.

    @Susan in the Boonies: You are spot on with the poignancy.

    @Just Me: This is a perfectly reasonable response. Let's call it Cookieism and start a sect.

    @Maggie May: Thank you for reading it!

    @See Kate Run: Thankfully, most of the time, I let such thoughts pass over my brain and slip away rather harmlessly. Glad you liked it.

    @Nikki Rules: I recall reading about some tree branches breaking in Central Park and one killed someone or a family. I was frozen by the suddenness of it. Horrifying to contemplate and yet useless to try and avoid branches from falling from overhead. *SIGH* I'm sorry to hear you lost your friend.

    @Pearl: Oh, Pearl, you know I will!

    @Blu: It's on Blogspot too, you can get a link on my Profile here on this page if you click on "Read More." The address is And yes, I'll be posting some oldies but goodies from Buddha Blog Mondays.

    @Char: I'd be happy to send it to you. I saved all the old blogs here on my computer.

    @Algernon: Thanks! And thanks for stopping by my post!

    @La Piazza: That's a good point. I guess I wanted to have a buddhist blog and a secular one. Perhaps that's a better description.

    @Christina's World: I'm glad to hear that you like the full spectrum! I'll try not to feel so guilty for posting the serious stuff! And thanks for your nice words.

    @Nice Peace of Buddhy: The link is on my profile here, and I will include it here for you too:

    @Bluzdud: Thank you for the encouragement. I'm so lucky to have you and others reassure me about my writing!

    @Amanda G.: Thank you! I'm glad you read it.

    @The Last Santa: Yikes! I'm so sorry to hear about your fall. But thank you for sharing that reminder that we are indeed so fragile and so vulnerable, in a way. I feel the same way about my sister as you do about your brother, I think. We are lucky to have them.

    @Amy: And you are a wonderfully insightful commenter. :-) Seriously, though, thank you for taking the time to read my post.

    @Mrs BC: I wasn't in a bleak place at all, just one of those normal moments where you wonder all the "What If"s that your dark little mind can go. A fleeting moment, but a scary one. They do make for good writing material, though. ;-)

  30. bummer. that image reminds me of my dad, who used to pretend he was tatoo and sit on his knees in his shoes to do so (he was over 6 ft tall). he died when i was 14 and I'd love to push rewind and see him again. beautiful post.

  31. Thanks Mandy, this was a great topic. I heal fast. )

  32. Hi Mandy,
    As I read "On Not Saying Goodbye"
    I know you have touched many, including me, with your beautiful words. Your words are forever as even God can not change history.
    ...Forever...thank you, Mandy.

  33. @Sherri: Aw, your dad sounds like quite a card. I wish you could replay him again too.

    @Raao: I like the idea of my words being forever. Well, at least the good ones.


  34. Beautiful post, Mandy. And how lucky you are to have a life that you adore so much. Maybe afterlife will turn out to be an opportunity for us to keep reliving this life. We can hope, right?

  35. After spending 23 days in the hospital and emerging with a new heart valve, this post resonates beautifully with my mood right now.

  36. I'm so glad you were willing to press publish and share. Don't worry about the serious and not-so-serious posts. I think a mix is just right as our lives are made up of the light and the not-so-light.

    I've lost more than a few people I loved and would do anything to get them back, so my life on a loop is exactly what I'd like to have. Good or bad, mistakes or success, I choose this life.

  37. This is one of those posts that you read with a cup of your favorite tea. So good.

  38. Lovely post. Kundera said it, too: "Happiness is the longing for repetition."

    It seems to be confirmed by several other sources therefore - according to the rules of citation - it must be true.