Monthly Archives: May 2011

Why I wrote “August Farewell”

About a month after Bill’s death, I found myself becoming very anxious.

Anxious that I would gradually forget details about:

  • those incredible sixteen days between his diagnosis and his death from pancreatic cancer, 
  • conversations that he and I had about our life together, our travels, our friends, our families, our faith,
  • poignant visits of friends and family as they came to say their goodbyes to him,
  • the wonderful assistance of the palliative care doctors, nurses, and homemakers who came to our home daily,
  • his last moments of life.

If I were to forget those details, it felt to me like I would be losing him all over again.

I wanted to keep and treasure those memories, something like a precious photo album in words.

So I started to write. My heart broke open and the story came cascading out.

As I wrote, I was constantly reminded of experiences that we had had together over our thirty-three years as a gay couple. Quite spontaneously, I began integrating vignettes of our long life together into the chronology of those sixteen days.

I wrote almost non-stop for about six weeks.

August Farewell was the result.

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Excerpt from August Farewell


After the X-ray is finished and the technician thanks Bill for the new joke, she pages an orderly to deliver us to the next testing site. Bill’s bed is wheeled to a distant wing in the hospital and we are placed in the corridor queue for a CAT scan. There are several patients ahead of us, but the line moves pretty expeditiously and within fifteen minutes or so a technician comes into the hall and asks Bill if he is William Conklin. This time I am not allowed to go into the room with him but am directed to a nearby waiting room.

I wonder if he is telling her the dead duck joke.

For the first time today, Bill and I are separated. I have nothing to do but sit and wait. And think.

I replay the day’s activities in my mind. It has been frenetic since Bill’s early morning wake-up call. Because of the pace, I have not digested the implications of the activities. We are here at the hospital because Bill’s doctor was concerned about the most recent tests results. We are now in the medical imaging department because the emergency room doctor was concerned about what we told her about Bill’s recent history and about what she saw when she examined him.

Maybe we are finally going to get some solid answers as to what is going on with Bill.

But now as I sit here wondering what the CAT scan may show, I find myself having qualms about whether I really want to know after all.


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