The first time was when I moved into my first apartment. Everything was packed, loaded into the car, just waiting to fill up my new life.
I was standing in the kitchen with her, not wanting to leave, because I knew once I left, once that door closed, this wouldn't really be my home anymore.
We stood in the kitchen, living out the last little bit of my childhood, her drinking coffee, me not knowing how to say goodbye.
She moved to get another cup of coffee, her face half-hidden from me, and that was the first time she sang it. Soft and slow, and when I was finally able to hug her goodbye, I tucked that song away. For later.
When I brought my first "real" boyfriend home to meet her, we stood in the kitchen while she worried over the weight I'd lost. She started packing up things from the pantry, the refrigerator, the cabinets.
While the boyfriend took these things out to my car, I hugged her goodbye. While we stood there, she sang it to me again.
The third time was about six months into my one year lease. My room mate met some guy one night and by the next morning decided to get married.
I was working about sixty-five hours a week, and I called her, thinking how she'd soothe me, tell me I would be all right. How I could say those words to myself, but somehow when she said them, they meant something more. Her words would mean that it really was going to be all right.
As soon as she answered, I asked her to sing the song. As she did, I sank against the wall, phone in hand, silent tears running down my face. "Better?" she asked. "Better." I agreed. And it was.
A couple of weeks ago she had to have some tests. For her heart. There's always the denial that comes with news like that. It's nothing, nothing's wrong, just some tests, it'll be okay. Then, the bargaining. Please don't let anything be wrong, please God, me, not her. Anything.
She started treatment, started taking meds, and when I saw her, it wiped out every hope I had.
Her blond hair was lank and lifeless. Her skin, normally soft and radiant, was like paper. Touching her too firmly would leave a black bruise.
Worse, when I was helping her get groceries, I asked her about the song. "What song?" she asked, not even turning. "It doesn't matter," I said.
But it did.
I decided to visit her at work. The way she looked that day in the grocery store had me worried.
When I walked toward the back stairs, I saw her. And I couldn't hold back my tears.
Her short blond hair shone in the sun, the color of dark honey. Her hazel eyes, so alive and aware, were sparkling at the sight of me.
When she saw my face, saw my tears, I saw concern and love and she asked what was wrong.
I hadn't realized how I'd resigned myself to her death. I thought I was going to lose her.
I hadn't even been able to look at myself in the mirror, because of how much we look alike. I don't have the beautiful kaleidescope eyes, that shift from brown to green, or the lovely blond of her hair, but the go-to-hell grin on my face is hers.
When she hugged me, I was shaking, because she was going to be okay, she was going to live.
Although my voice was shaking, and I cried through it, I sang the song to her. She joined me, and we ended up singing it together.
Sometimes that song was our way of saying goodbye, or I miss you, or it's gonna be okay. No matter what else it said, it was always I love you.
No matter how many times I hear it, the words never get watered down. It always hits me right in the heart.
She's not always there to sing it to me when I need it most, but she doesn't have to. If I listen really hard, and concentrate, I can remember the very first time.
I'm so glad we had this time together,
Just to have a laugh, or sing a song.
Seems we just get started and before you Know it
Comes the time we have to say, “So long".
There's a time you wanna sigh for dreamin.
And a time for things you have to do.
The time I love the best is any evening
I can spend a moment here with you.
When the time comes and I'm feelin' lonely
And I'm feelin' oh so blue.
I just sit back and think of you only
And the happiness still comes through.
That's why I'm glad we had this time together.
Cause it makes me feel like I'm along.
Seems we just get started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, "So Long".