Hello Goodbye/Goodbye Hello

“Well, you said,
He’s better off dead
You think that I might have heard a word
but I was much too young
and much too cool for words
Look at me now”
“Rock and Roll Ghost”
-The Replacements

I’m getting older now and most of the time I don’t mind it. The body can ache a little more, creak a little more; I’m a little more grey, a little softer in the middle and, thankfully, a little softer on the inside. I’ve found that as I age, I tend to look back and say “I wish I had done that differently”, “I wish I had handled that better”, “I wish I had treated that person more kindly”. And, if you are anything like me, you pray for the day when maybe, just maybe, you’ll have the opportunity to correct it or apologize for it.

But then you find out that they’re dead.

About a month ago, some weird stuff started happening around the apartment I share with my girlfriend. My glasses (yea, another part of getting older) were chewed up, which is easily attributed to one of the two moronic dogs we have, BUT more interestingly, they were folded nicely and put on the bench in our entry way. Without the benefit of opposing thumbs, I’m not entirely sure the dogs could’ve done that.

About one week later, my wallet went missing. Once again, neatly placed on the same bench were my two debit cards and my MetroCard (albeit with a couple of tooth marks in them). The wallet turned up chewed to bejesus in our bed, which again is one of the two morons. Certainly odd to me and I was left scratching my head, but no big deal.

Now, I’m typically not one to believe in all of that sort of ghosty stuff. I believe more than I don’t but…And we do live in an old factory, so it is possible (well, probable) that someone died there but…And it would make sense that given my messy nature, if we were being haunted, it would be by a tidy ghost. It was freaky, but it only happened those two times.

I dated a girl wayyy back when. Back when The Replacements were still together, R.E.M. was still an independent band and MTV played music videos. And we dated for about 14 months, told ourselves we were in love and then we broke up. I don’t know the circumstances under which we broke up, it’s been well over 20 years now. I recall it being bad and painful. But in hindsight, I think it was bad because she broke up with me. I have rejection issues I suppose.

I saw this girl twice in the ensuing years and neither time did she see me. I just turned and walked away. And to be honest, I did have much to apologize to her for, but ego and shame always got the better of me. As time wore on, I began to realize any apology I made would have been self serving. I would have been the only one with the weight lifted. What was done was done and I had, over time, learned to forgive myself. And believed that by living a more honest life, I could come to terms with the shitty stuff. But in the back of my head, I never really have been able to forgive myself on that one.

Throughout the years, I would promise myself if I ever had the chance I would find a way to apologize. And sometimes I would close my eyes and throw that apology out to the universe hoping she picked up on it (yea, I know hippy dippy shit, but I did do it). And then along came the internet and periodically I would look her up. Never did any cyber stalking or anything like that, just a quick Google search.

About six months ago, a quick search led me to her name in reference to the company I work for. So I looked her up and low and behold, there she was in our company directory. And she worked in a department where I had friends. But I never found the time to ask them if they knew her. Actually, I probably didn’t wanna know if they knew her. And as soon as I found out we worked at the same company, I put it away. Maybe if we continued at the same place our paths would cross. I’m fairly certain they would have.

A few days after the glasses and wallet incidents, I went to Florida to visit my parents and my aunt and uncle. When I came back, I, for whatever reason, did a search for her again on Google. And to my shock, I saw an obituary from her hometown newspaper. Surely, this wasn’t her. Sadly, it was. She  had died suddenly. The obituary didn’t state the reason why. So, I reached out to the friends I knew who I thought may have worked with her and low and behold, one of them knew her well and worked with her very closely. They told me she died of a stroke of some sort. I was floored. It just didn’t make any sense to me. But then, life has often left me confused.

So, she’s dead. And it affected me. Immediately after learning she had passed, I went outside to smoke. As I stood outside having a cigarette, shaking with my eyes growing a little misty, I once again threw an apology out to the universe. I wanted her to know I was sorry. And if you have made it this far, you’ll probably wanna know what it is I feel I need to apologize for? That’s between us.

She passed on September 10. The date that my glasses were chewed and left on the bench? September 10. The wallet incident the next week. An odd coincidence to be sure. Something tells me she may have heard my apology this time. We haven’t encountered any odd tidying up around the house lately.

Goodbye __________.
I’m sorry.
Love,
Keith

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