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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Smile because it happened

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I've said a lot of goodbyes in the last 22 years and 10 months. Some were easier than others. Sometimes it was, "goodbye, see you tomorrow." Sometimes it was, "Goodbye, I don't know when I'll see you again." And sometimes it was, "goodbye, I don't ever want to see you again." The worst ones though are the ones you never get to say.

In the last few months I have said all of the above: Goodbye at the end of a long day at work, goodbye to somebody I just met at the bar, goodbye to a now ex-boyfriend, and there were even times when I didn't get to say goodbye at all.

The first separation that I can remember was at our old house on Ashland. Dad went somewhere and he tried to slip out without saying bye. He was probably just getting the mail. But I can still feel the heartache and distress. I recall screaming my lungs out for my daddy to come back. Goodbyes are important!

A little older now, I remember saying farewell at Diane's Daycare. I was the only "big kid" in my group at the time. I would wait for the bus to come and take me to afternoon kindergarten. I was supposed to signal to Diane that the bus was here by ringing the doorbell. Sometimes I would forget about the doorbell so Diane didn't get a goodbye either. Is it weird that I still feel guilty about this? I also remember my last goodbye at the daycare. We had a party. We all sat in a circle. Diane gave me a jewelry box that I still use.

A few more years down the road I bring to mind saying "peace out!" to middle school and hello high school. There were some things I wanted to say goodbye to forever, but there are those that will always be a "see you later:" Friends, Golden Dragon, and the Lamar Drive-In just to name a few.

When I got to college I was convinced my friends and I were all still going to hang out like high school. I wish I wasn't so naive. If I had known the reality, I would have said a better goodbye to people. College sucked even more. I said so long to my joints, my dignity, and my health.

The best getaway was the one I said in symbolism. I left my bedroom completely empty and the house key on the kitchen table for my roommate to find when she came home from work. Surprise! She had no idea of my plan. It still makes me smile. Sometimes goodbyes are good, excellent even.

I've mentioned my hardest goodbyes in a previous column. I retired from Missouri, I hung up my hat at Mizzou, and I separated myself from the sport of wrestling; the three biggest loves of my life. But time heals. Friends fix things.

Tonight I write my note of departure to one of the greatest men who ever lived. Most of you know him, and none of us will forget him. I could describe him in so many words, but that would put me way past my word limit. Whether he touched your life in the halls of Nevada High School, a year in biology, or four years of wrestling practice hell, I don't think his family, my family, will ever realize the true impact he had on so many, many lives.

I've known him my whole life. Therefore, I feel like it's my job to tell everybody I know how amazing he was. But I don't need to. Coach Larry Hurst needs no explanation. This is the man who bit off the head of a snake once at football practice. He went to church every Sunday. He coached the greatest wrestling team in Nevada High School history. Chuck Norris jokes quickly turned to Coach Hurst jokes down the halls of NHS. He was the proudest Marine Vietnam Veteran you would ever meet. Larry Hurst was admirable at everything he did.

I can't be there in person to tell Judy and Larron how much he meant to students over the decades. I can't be there to tell him goodbye, but it's comforting knowing it's a "goodbye, see you later!" He knows. He's doing just fine. I'm not worried. Love you Coach. See you later!