Saying Goodbye, Again
At what point do you eliminate a contact from the virtual Rolodex in your phone? For some contacts, it’s easy to say goodbye. A former customer who’s no longer in the business, a loosely connected neighbor that moved away, or a cab driver, for example, can be cleared with little remorse.
But what about someone who is deceased? I was recently scrubbing my contacts and stopped in my tracks upon seeing the name of a good friend, who passed away in 2015. There it was: his phone number, e-mail and home address. I studied his contact profile for a while. I didn’t know what to do.
My wife and I often met with Josh and his wife, before they moved to New York. We used to go out to dinner, play cards, discuss literature. Josh was a fellow writer, and I credit him for encouraging me to keep refining my craft.
Time marched on, of course. He and his wife divorced. The cancer he had had when was younger, returned. My last contact with him was about a year before his death. He was in the thick of his cancer battle, asking friends for title recommendations for a book he was writing.
I had a moment of silence for him looking at his information in my phone. I reflected on the times when we were friends. How we first met in Oregon at the Tin House Writer’s Workshop, and how quickly we connected. How gifted a writer he was, and how he found humor in everything.
The painful understanding that I won’t ever need to call or e-mail him helped me decide to delete his contact. Seven digits and an address are not how I want to remember him anyway. They are not his epitaph. What endures are the memories. The shared times. The gratitude to have been, for at least a few minutes in our lives, at the same place, at the same time.
Dedicated to Josh Goldfaden 1972-2015
Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker.