Goodbye. Saying “goodbye” is never as easy as it seems. It is something we do a thousand times a year and often without a second thought. If we bother to reflect on it at all, we quickly dismiss those thoughts when we realize we aren’t so much saying “goodbye” as we are “see you again real soon” or “so long for now.” Saying goodbye to a friend after lunch or a relative on the phone is merely a postponement of your current conversation sure to be picked up again at the next opportunity.
Some goodbyes are harder than others. Some goodbyes actually are a goodbye that is meant like breaking up with a girlfriend or selling your first car. Saying goodbye to a place you visited or an experience that captured your heart and imagination. Those goodbyes are said not knowing the next time you will see that thing or talk to that person. There may very well be a chance that you never cross paths again but deep down you’re feeling like you can always go back. You can always book that ticket again, you can always pick up the phone and find that person, and you can always try hard to recreate the magic of that special night.
Very rarely do you say “goodbye” and know it means “goodbye forever.” Last month, I had one of those goodbyes that cause you to pause and hang on to that word. To let it roll around in your mind and contemplate what it really means. To let the gravity of that word sink in and to feel the weight it carries as it settles on your heart. My dear friend Maury Frankel was calling to say “goodbye.”
In saying goodbye to Maury, I wasn’t merely saying goodbye to a friend. This thought has crossed my mind and caused it to wander almost every day since his passing. You see I commute up and down the PA Turnpike every day for work which means twice a day my GPS shows a little dot that says “Maury & Beth Frankel” as I pass by in close proximity to their house. Each time the map scrolls and those words finally appear I find myself saying goodbye again. Not just to the man that is no longer here but also to every aspect of my life he touched. This meant goodbye to the friend on the other side of the phone, goodbye to the adventures that could happen with a moment’s notice, goodbye to the opportunities to drive new roads and reflect upon everything Honda and later Mercedes did right with our cars and finally goodbye to future explorations that never happened because our time was up sooner than we thought.
This latest goodbye happened while traversing a new circuit near my house. On a Sunday afternoon drive with a few friends, we discovered some terrifically fun roads to drive. As we continued to dive deeper into the country on these roads, every new twist and turn brought about more and more fun. The thought flickered across my mind that I couldn’t wait to share these roads with Maury and was instantly replaced by the cold realization that I had said goodbye and would never have that opportunity. In this moment of time, I was overcome with grief yet I refused to let that continue. This shouldn’t be a sad story but rather a celebration.
You see Maury was a great guy. Everyone that has ever known him will attest to that. All of the stereotypical words and thoughts that people share in a time of death about the deceased really do apply. Maury was the kind of guy that God broke the mold after He created him. Sure we all have our faults and our idiosyncrasies, but Maury was larger than life and you always had to look hard to spot his faults and never had to try hard to ignore them. He will continue to be the benchmark for how to treat people and how to be a great friend.
I wasn’t going to let his passing become something I thought about only in hushed tones and depressed thoughts. It was then I remembered a phone call I received from his son Dan the weekend Maury passed away. Dan had called to ask that we plan a memorial drive. The family wanted another chance to do what they had done on countless previous weekends. They wanted to hop in a car, drop the top and blast their sadness away on some great roads surrounded by close friends. These roads we had just discovered and this route that we had just enjoyed would serve this need perfectly. Rather than get caught up in a memory we could never fully recapture or lost in a moment of time that had already crumbled, we could create something new. Why drive the same roads we had been over together before when something new and wonderful could be experienced?
I know how much Maury would have loved this route. I know how many fun afternoons we could have had blasting through the gears after another stop sign and dropping down into the next blind curve in the road. It was then that I realized we hadn’t truly said goodbye. It wasn’t even a “so long for now.” It was a “see you again real soon!” kind of goodbye. You see the next time I hop in my S2K and I depress that clutch, I turn that key and I press that red button, I know no matter what old and familiar or new and exciting roads I find myself on, Maury will be right there with me. He will be there in my memories and on my thoughts wondering what it would have been like to cruise together again or share a story over a drink at the end of another long road.
When that engine roars to life, I will instantly be transported to a place where the cancer hadn’t wracked his body and left him frail and weak. Maury will have a full head of hair again and that smile that lets you know he can talk us out of a speeding ticket and get us the best seat in the restaurant afterwards.
This goodbye wasn’t one to regret or look upon with sadness but was one to recall every time I missed him and needed a smile brought to my face. The goodbye to regret is the one that never happened for those of you who never got a chance to meet Maury in person or are hearing about him for the first time in this article. You didn’t have a chance to say goodbye because you never got to say hello and you honestly will live poorer lives because of this.
Goodbye Maury. You know what I mean buddy!
For those of you who don’t know the story on Maury “Jumpy Guy” Frankel passing away in February 2013, please see the memorial thread: Maury Frankel (Jumpy Guy)
– Bryan (HannibalACP82)