George Clooney knows how to say goodbye

This afternoon I saw the new George Clooney movie “The Descendants” and I’m a blubbering mess. 

Mind you it’s not quite as bad as the time I went to see Colin Firth in “A Single Man.”  I didn’t know anything about the plot but I like Colin Firth and thought that a movie would be a good distraction for me after the weekend of my partner Bill’s funeral. It turned out that “A Single Man” is the story of a gay man coming to terms with the sudden death of his long-time partner. I sat through it in shock watching my life up on the screen. I came home afterwards, cried for four hours, and then cleaned for four hours.

I had seen the movie trailer for “The Descendants.” It looked like a comedy to me. And I’d go to a movie with George Clooney reading the dictionary.

“The Descendants” is not a comedy. Well, not mainly.

I don’t have to issue a spoiler alert here because I’m not going to give away any key surprise elements of the storyline.

Early in the film we learn that Clooney’s wife is dying. He has to help various people say their goodbyes to her – two daughters, the wife’s parents, close friends.

And, he has to say his own goodbyes, made rather challenging because theirs is a complicated relationship.

But what relationship isn’t complicated?

Every one of us will at some time in our lives be confronted with the imminent death of a loved one. Many of us already have. Our mother. Our father. A sibling, a child, a close friend. Our partner, lover, soul-mate.

All of these relationships in our lives are complex and replete with some resentment.

There is the temptation to postpone saying our goodbyes. Perhaps, we’re refusing to acknowledge the inevitable. It might be a hesitation grounded in pride, regret, or anger. Maybe we’re too traumatized or just too awkward.

My advice, not that you’re asking for it, is: Don’t be afraid. Do it before it’s too late. Say your goodbyes.

Bill and I said our goodbyes — for which I am forever thankful. I describe our story on the short 2 minute YouTube video at

If you don’t trust my word, go and see George Clooney’s character in “The Descendants” say his goodbyes. You may be forever thankful.

* * *

My memoir “August Farewell” tells the story of the two weeks between Bill’s diagnosis with pancreatic cancer and his death. Interspersed among the scenes are vignettes from our thirty-three years together as a gay couple.

Information on “August Farewell” and on my novel “Searching for Gilead” is available on my website at

Both the memoir and the novel are available for order from your local bookseller or on-line retailers including,,,,

The picture below is self-explanatory:




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2 responses to “George Clooney knows how to say goodbye

  1. You’ve certainly got me interested in this movie! I’m with you on the George Clooney fandom. Guy’s a fantastic actor.I’d like to extend my condolences, 2 yrs. late in coming, on the loss of your partner. Sounds like you two had a great relationship, and the way you said your goodbyes was absolutely replete with grandeur.Blessings to you during the rest of your voyage. May the winds of 2012 be always at your back.

  2. TDMargaret

    I do agree with what you say about ‘goodbyes’ David and think we should always tell loved one’s on a regular basis that we love them, in case we don’t have the chance at the end.I can understand how The Descendants would affect you but personally I found it disappointing. The 2 best things about it were George and the scenery. I did not find any depth to the characters and at the end really could not feel their pain. Also found it hard to see how it has 5 Oscar nominations. This is just my personal opinion.I have Single Man on DVD but haven’t watched it yet. That must have been so hard for you to watch at that time. I will think of you now when I watch it.xx

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