The Music of Goodbye

(At 18, my husband went from his mother’s home to his girlfriend’s–and later to his wife’s.  At 44, he sets out on his OWN.)

Music comes of its own accordlyrics with meaning, sometimes encoded… like the song that flowed during the spring of my 23rd year when I returned from Europe to the arms of my first love.

How do you keep the music playing?
How do you make it last?
How do you keep the song from fading too fast?

Most tunes came for a day or two, but this one wouldn’t fade…

How do you loose yourself to someone, and never loose your way?
How do you not run out of nothings to say?

I began to suspect that my dental work was picking up a radio station because this melancholy tune had no place in my “reunited” bliss.

I know the way I feel is now or never…

By the time summer rolled in, that song burst into meaning–so much so that after too many drinks, I LET IT OUT–torching it at the piano bar above the restaurant that I managed…

The more I love, the more that I’m afraid,
that in your eyes I may not see
forever, forever…

Hearing it now, it still gives me chills. He was cheating. The one who begged me to be his, the one pleaded with me to come home, to be a wife, instead of a world traveler. I’ve never forgotten that lesson. Now, I listen closer to the songs that come.

Renoir (

This one had been a beautiful duet, but I had been singing it alone–and  never noticed.

A quarter of a century later, in the spring of my 47th year, another tune has come to stay:

After you go, I’ll have a lot more room in my closet.
After you go, I’ll stay out all night long if I feel like it.

But this one isn’t much of a mystery.

And when you’re gone, looks like things are gonna be a lot easier.
Life will be a breeze, you know.
I really should be glad.

In fact, I’ve known about this departure for a long time, so I’ve been daydreaming about how nice it will be without him:

After you go, I can catch up on my reading.
After you go, I’ll have a lot more time for sleeping.

Only now that it’s just days away, I have to face the broader impact of his leaving than lines from corny hits from the 70’s.

Because it’s going to be hard. So while my mouth keeps going on about all the reading and sleeping I’ll get to do, my mind has sneaking behind my back to make a list of all the things that HE does–that I DON’T.

Like wash pots and pans and sticky tupperware and condiment-laden bottles.

It’s painful (and embarrassing) to witness just how much I come to rely on this man, and the list goes on:

Who will check the mouse traps?  Who will get up in the middle of the night when I hear a sound?  Who will fetch water from the pond when the power goes out?  Who will fix the cabinet, the faucet, the chair, the fill-in-the-blank-here, when it breaks?

Each day, my mind is a little less willing to be lulled by the song about how good it’s going to be, insisting that I deepen to the complexities of this goodbye.

Who will play Bad Cop to my Good Cop (and vice-versa)?  Who will take the kids for a ride so that I can find my way back to center? Who will put them to bed so that I can open us a bottle of wine?  Who will listen to my regular conundrums?

I’ve been wanting to write this post all week, but I thought I’d call it: Razor’s Edge–after a favorite film of ours where the characters manage loss by thinking of all the things that annoyed them about the recently departed.

As my husband becomes a middle-ager, the “annoying” list grows thicker:

He gets up to pee too many times during the night.  He crumples tissues into tight little wads that he leaves beside trashcans. He leaves countless whiskers around the bathroom sink.  His mood swings rival any woman’s.


To have a month apart from each other can only be a good thing. Only he’ll be fed organic meals prepared by others while he immerses himself in yoga and learning and stunning women from around the country, while I’m left behind with the house, and the land and the two kids.

That Razor’s Edge process is looking more attractive than dealing with the reality of all that.  But behind the cutting loose a loss is the love. And that’s the part that’s hardest to bear:

No more tea brought to me in the morning. No more extra covers at night. No shoulders rubbed after I’ve spent too long at the computer. No melting hug to soothe my anxious mind. No loving, breathing body beside me, entwining his legs with mine.

There is much more to this goodbye than all these lists, but some things must wait to be knownlike the mystery of a song–and a marriage–and the discovery of all that “is” between a man and a woman.

Which brings me back the words of that bittersweet love song from my twenties. I finally hear and have the “happy ending” that I wanted–the one that defines a romance that knows how to grow within the letting go~

If we can be the best of lovers
yet be the best of friends,
if we can try,
with every day
to make it better
as it grows
With any luck
than I suppose

the music

Kelly Salasin, June 2010

ps. but I am looking forward to having a room to myself

pps.  Bonus tracks

RAZOR’S edge:

True heart:


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