The Long Goodbye

Our mourning for Mr. Reagan didn’t begin this week

Ten years ago,
removing a cloak of suspicion,
Ron donned a vest of vulnerability
and admitted what many had feared.

The rumored vandalism was true.
Without invitation or welcome,
Mr. Alzheimer’s disease had broken into his mind
and begun to rob Mr. Reagan
of that brilliant sense of reason, wit and recall
we all had come to love.

Back then we began our goodbyes.
It was as if Nancy’s Ronnie
had mounted one of his much-loved horses
and slowly rode beyond his ability to hear us.
So we waved so long
and mused how short
eight decades of life really is
(and how cruel it can be sometimes).

Out of sight (and out of mind),
it seemed our 40th President left us then.
But he hadn’t really.
His slow private ride into a mind-blinding sunset
provided us plenty of time to make peace with
what has become the dreadful destination of too many.

And so it seems appropriate that we would mourn
a good long time this week.
It seems only right that his corpse be carried
from one coast to the other and then back again.
This one for whom America was truly beautiful
had to go from sea to shining sea one last time
before his pastor could pronounce
“ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
It was a must.
After all, the boy from the Midwest
left his mark in the west and the east
and not least of all in our hearts.

Filled with heads of state who respected him
and tales of a great leader who proved himself,
the National Cathedral is an appropriate sanctuary
to honor God and acknowledge a man of humble origins
known for both his patriotism and faith.

The church perched high above the city of monuments
is the perfect place to memorialize a leader
too many (sadly) took for granted.
And so a House of God
not far from what was once his House of White
shelters his flag-draped earthly dwelling
while a grateful grieving nation watches.

But we would do well to remember
it is his earthly dwelling only.
While we are left to contemplate our own
forthcoming journey through Death’s Valley,
the man we mourn is quite alive
and at long last
clothed in his right mind.