Saying goodbye has never been easy, at least not for me. This past week I said goodbye to a man I attended church with for several years (he moved to Colorado with his family) and a woman who worked with my wife and whose husband I knew and cycled with long before that (she died […]

Saying goodbye has never been easy, at least not forme. This past week I said goodbye to a man I attended church with for severalyears (he moved to Colorado with his family) and a woman who worked with mywife and whose husband I knew and cycled with long before that (she died of lungcancer although not a smoker). On Saturday, I'll be saying goodbye to my elementaryand junior high school friend who lived and farmed in the town where I grew up,Cherokee, Oklahoma (he came down with the flu in February, which developed intopneumonia and other complications; he died on Tuesday).

Then there was a letter I opened Tuesday eveningfrom TIAA CREF in which I discovered that my ex-wife, Julie, had died. Theletter requested certain documents related to our divorce. It's really strangeand hard to describe the emotions that rush through you, not to mention thesurprise, when you find out that someone you once loved has passed beyond theveil of mortality. A lot of memories you haven't thought about in a while burstforth. We were married for only seven years and didn't have any childrentogether, so we had very little contact after the divorce was final, in 1996.However, I still have contact with Julie's mother, once a year at least, whenwe exchange Christmas cards; we've done this every year since Julie and I splitup. In fact, the last time I saw Julie was ten or so years ago when Kathie andI were vacationing in Wyoming and attended church at our old ward in Gillette,Wyoming. Julie was a bit surprised to see us, to say the least. Thankfully Julie'smother was also visiting at the time and that helped things to go fairlysmoothly.

One of the more difficult things I've done in my lifewas to say goodbye to our marriage. I consider the two or so years following thedivorce as one of the darker periods of my life. That time also included thedeath of my brother in an automobile accident and the death of my maternalgrandfather. There was a bright light during those two years, however, and it cametoward its end: I met my wife of now 20+ years, Kathie at church in Gillette; shehad moved to town from Pennsylvania to work at the local hospital.

In this life, we never know just how it will allturn out. We don't know who we'll be saying goodbye to or when, but most of uswill have ample opportunity to do so. I am sad for Julie's family, her husbandand two boys. She died at the end of January, so the grieving process is stillvery fresh and tender for them. In any case, my sympathy and prayers go out to theSimon family. And my gratitude to yet have Kathie in my life only grows.